In a surprising move, the Clippers announced Saturday afternoon that their fifteenth and final roster spot would be filled by Lester Hudson, the ten-day point guard coming straight out of China. It was widely expected that Nate Robinson would be inked, but Doc Rivers ended up predictably going with a player who had played with him before (instead of a player... who had played for him before).
Robinson played two ten-day contracts with the Clippers, but suffered a knee injury at the end of the second contract that prevented the Clippers from re-signing him immediately for the rest of the season. While waiting to see if he would recover (similar to what they did with Jordan Hamilton, who they ultimately did sign for the rest of the season), they brought in Hudson to try out, and liked him enough to keep him going forward.
According to Rivers, Robinson hadn't completely recovered, but was healthy enough to sign to a contract. So it seems Hudson wasn't just the backup option, he was chosen over Nate. Per Dan Woike, Hudson's defense factored into the decision:
"I liked his toughness," Doc Rivers said. "I like his defense. He has a chance to be a really good defensive player in our program."
Hudson picked up five steals in his last two games against the Nuggets and Lakers (you can see those here and here). Defense was definitely an advantage he had over the smaller Nate Robinson, who was more of a liability on that end during his nine-game tenure in Los Angeles.
Chemistry has also been a major factor in Doc Rivers' end-of-the-bench signings this year. While Nate is well-known for his prankster nature and chummy relationship with Big Baby, Rivers valued Hudson's contributions in that arena too. From Ben Bolch:
"I just think when you add guys, it helps," Rivers said. "Lester is not young, but he's a good solid guy to have in your locker room, so I like that."
What does this mean going forward for the Clippers? Not much, really. The overall sentiment of many fans on social media has been negative, but it's a complete overreaction. The fact of the matter was that neither player would get significant minutes going forward anyways; the only reason either got meaningful minutes to begin with was because Jamal Crawford was out with injury.
Now that Crawford's back, the only minutes either player would get would come in garbage time. Perhaps some fans still remember Nate Robinson's playoff performance with the Bulls a few years ago, and expected that he could provide the same thing here for the Clippers. That ignores that he hasn't matched that level of play since, and only recently returned from an ACL tear.
Some of it also stems from fears of Austin Rivers underwhelming in his first playoff appearance. But even if that happens, it's more likely that the Clippers cut him out of the rotation entirely and proceed with a three-guard group of Paul, Redick, and Crawford. In the grand scheme of things, this signing doesn't really affect much.
One more note: Hudson was actually signed to what was described as a multi-year agreement. This shouldn't alarm fans, though; Woike later reported that the deal includes a partial guarantee for next season. This is likely similar to the contract signed by Jordan Hamilton, which gives the Clippers the ability to exercise a team option on him next season.
The Clippers' roster now appears set for the playoffs, with fifteen players under contract for the rest of the year.
|PG||Chris Paul||Austin Rivers||Lester Hudson|
|SG||J.J. Redick||Jamal Crawford||C.J. Wilcox|
|SF||Matt Barnes||Hedo Turkoglu||Jordan Hamilton|
|PF||Blake Griffin||Glen Davis||Dahntay Jones|
|C||DeAndre Jordan||Spencer Hawes||Ekpe Udoh|