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2016 Not-So-Clippers Exit Interview: Alex Stepheson

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We kick off our annual series by reviewing the LA native's brief time with the team.

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Name: Alex Stepheson

Age: 28 (turns 29 in August)

Key Stats: 4 games played, 12 minutes played, 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 4 fouls.  1-1 from the field.

Years in the NBA: 1

2015-16 Salary: Two 10-day contracts with LAC, valued at $30,888 each.

Future contract status: Signed one 10-day contract with the Memphis Grizzlies after leaving the Clippers, now UFA

Summary:

Stepheson was a Clipper for just a brief time in February and March, following the trading deadline.  The Clippers had lost Blake Griffin to injury and had traded the malcontent Josh Smith back to Houston, leaving them with only two healthy and available big men, DeAndre Jordan and Cole Aldrich.  The Clippers weren't looking for a rotation big man so much as they were looking for injury/foul trouble insurance at center, and Stepheson provided that for a short time before Doc Rivers settled on Jeff Ayres.

Strengths:

Alex Stepheson is a big, raw, athletic big guy.  He just happens to be a less big and athletic, and a more raw, than DeAndre Jordan.  That's the difference between a maximum salary in the NBA and a fringe NBA player.  Stepheson's biggest strength is rebounding--he averaged 13.4 rebounds per game in the D-League this season en route to an All-Star appearance and All-NBADL First Team honors.  It's no wonder that teams thought he was a worthy call-up.

Weaknesses:

We didn't see a lot of Alex in a Clippers uniform, but his game isn't a skillful one, and at the NBA level his athleticism and strength didn't seem to allow him to dominate at his normal rate.  For Memphis, he had a 12-point, 15-rebound game, but it was in a forty-nine point loss to the Houston Rockets while the Grizzlies were drowning in injuries during March.  Alex might have a place in the NBA (he's sure to get a spot in Summer League and a training camp this year), but he doesn't have much margin for error, as he'll turn 29 in the off-season and teams are often hesitant to invest in depth signings that don't offer veteran experience or long-term upside.

Future With the Clippers:

As of now, there's no apparent future for Stepheson as a Clipper, seeing how they don't have his rights.  He's not the level of player that will be a priority for any team in July, but someone is going to give him a SL and camp spot, so it might be the Clippers depending on how their roster situation shakes out.  Because the Clippers play in the Orlando Summer League, Stepheson could potentially play for them before going to another team's Vegas squad.  If the Clippers find themselves in need of a 10-day depth signing at center in the coming seasons, I wouldn't be shocked to see Stepheson return now that Doc Rivers knows him and he is familiar with the team.

Favorite Moment as a Clipper:

It's always a special moment to watch a player score their first NBA bucket, and it was all the sweeter for Alex Stepheson, a native Angeleno and Harvard-Westlake/USC alumnus, to do so in a Clippers home game.