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Three Clippers Storylines in the Second Week of Preseason

Here’s a brief summary of some current Clippers’ related news topics.

NBA: Preseason-Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Finding clarity on the Clippers’ final roster spots: The Clippers now have under a week to get their roster from 17 players to 15 (not counting two-way guys), and there hasn’t been any real indication as to who’s out. Ty Wallace has played well enough to distinguish himself from the crowd, and Sindarius Thornwell, despite a poor Summer League, seems to have gotten a little too much hype and attention to be cut. Still, that leaves Jawun Evans, Milos Teodosic, and Wes Johnson on the theoretical bubble, with Thornwell remaining as an outside candidate to go as well. Evans has played fine in limited minutes in the 4th quarters of the past two games, but those very restrictions seem to be a mark against him. Milos has missed the first three games with a hamstring injury, a worrying sign for a 31 year old with a history of maladies who missed 36 games in his first NBA season. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s play so far means Milos might be on the outside of the rotation looking in, and he’s an expensive and far over-qualified 5th guard. Wes has barely appeared in two of the preseason games, and hasn’t acquitted himself well in that time. His baseline competence, positive locker room presence, and $6 million guaranteed contract work in his favor, but he too seems unlikely to get much playing time this season. I do believe Jawun Evans remains the most likely candidate to be cut, but I’m entirely unsure on what the Clippers will do to clear up that last roster spot.
  2. Things to look out for in the final two preseason games: Doc has rested veterans in each of the past two games, and I’m curious as to what he’ll do the final two. It’s possible he does the same blend in each, with most of the rotation playing, but I also think he might do a full dress-rehearsal type rotation for one game and then play the bench/young guys in the other. Either way, outside of hints as to who the Clippers might cut or trade, another question is who gets the final spot in the Clippers’ 10 man rotation. Pat Beverley, Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, and Marcin Gortat seem penciled in as opening-game starters, with Lou Williams, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Montrezl Harrell as locks for major roles as well. Shai has played himself into the rotation as well, I think, which leaves one wing/forward spot open. It would seem to come down to Mike Scott (has struggled shooting so far), Sindarius Thornwell (same), and Ty Wallace, who’s impressed, but can’t stretch the floor at all. Seeing who gains the edge in that race over the next two games should be interesting.
  3. The Jimmy Butler trade talks are sputtering: News broke yesterday that the Heat almost reached a deal to acquire Timberwolves’ star Jimmy Butler, but the trade fell through at the last minute due to the Wolves wanting further sweeteners. It’s now been almost three weeks since Butler demanded a trade, and nothing is imminent. The Wolves are asking for a lot, and teams don’t want to give up that much for a player who could leave in a year, will be costly to keep even if he does want to stay, and might be a locker-room problem. All reports are that the Clippers made some opening calls back when this whole process began, didn’t gain any traction, and haven’t made much a push to continue them. Really, the only team who has been connected to Butler recently are the Heat, and who knows if they’re still amenable to a deal after what just happened. Even if the Clippers don’t get Butler (and it’s looking like they won’t), it will still be interesting to see how the whole situation shakes out.