News broke yesterday on three of the Clippers’ walking wounded. Doc Rivers said that he doesn’t really know when Avery Bradley will be back, but did mention one to three weeks as a kind of range of return. He also dropped a nugget that Bradley might need surgery in the offseason, but that it wouldn’t happen during the season. Right after this, he clarified that Jawun Evans’ injury (he’s been out since January 20) is similar to Bradley’s, and he might also need surgery over the summer. None of that is good. The positive news is that Danilo Gallinari is day to day, and his return is dependent entirely on his comfort with the pain level. While it’s rough that Gallinari is hurting, the fact that there isn’t any structural damage is a very good sign.
The Bradley and Evans news has the most impact. Tyrone Wallace and CJ Williams each have but a day or two left to play for the LA Clippers before their time in the NBA is up, and it sounds like Evans and Bradley are going to miss more than that. That leaves the Clippers with several options. The simplest is to convert one of their contracts to an NBA minimum deal (they have cap room and a roster spot) for the rest of the season (and possibly extending to next year as well). The second is that they could leave both guys in the G-League, and just sign veterans on 10 day contracts for the rest of the season (or even sign one to a regular deal if they like him well enough). The third is that they could cut a current member of the roster that isn’t in the rotation (Boban Marjanovic, Sindarius Thornwell), and then sign both Wallace and Williams.
Of the options, I think the first is the most likely. Wallace and Williams have played well for the Clippers all season, and deserve the roster spot ahead of a free agent. They also know the players and the system better than an outsider, and have shown good chemistry with their teammates. The free agent market is also very slim right now, and there’s nobody available who is better than either Wallace or Williams. As for cutting someone... no team really likes eating money, and neither Thornwell nor Marjanovic is entirely dead weight to be sloughed away.
The question then becomes: which of the Williams/Wallace duo should the Clippers sign? While Williams’ outside shooting gives him a boost up on Wallace in terms of offensive reliability and roster fit, Wallace has shown a better and more versatile overall game, and he’s also several years younger than Williams. Williams is a nice player, a perfect 10th or 11th man on any NBA roster. But Wallace has displayed flashes of far more, and letting him go into the summer as a free agent seems somewhat foolish. I think trying to nab Wallace on a contract that extends into next year is the ideal, though I certainly wouldn’t mind if they chose Williams just as a more reliable vet for the playoff run this season.
Anyway, the Clippers can make do without Bradley for a week or two, though his absence will hurt. They really, really need Gallinari to not miss too many games, however, as his offensive presence is badly needed on this Clippers’ team. Best wishes to all the Clippers’ on their recoveries, and let’s hope we see them all back in action relatively soon.