Davey Bales: A
In a shrewd decision, the Clippers front office matched the New Orleans Pelicans offer sheet for Tyrone Wallace and continued to show off its burgeoning competency. Surveying the logjam on the roster as a whole, the Wallace situation gave me the unfortunately familiar feeling of seeing yet another useful NBA player slip through the Clippers’ fingers and wind up playing significant minutes elsewhere. Instead, it appears that the front office will keep him in the fold and look to release or trade other players on the fringe to bring the opening day squad down to 15. Upcoming roster manipulation aside, the Clippers have retained a player who proved his worth in 30 games with the team last season. Though he’ll likely never be even a league-average shooter from deep, Wallace consistently impressed with his crafty ability to get into the paint and finish. He is a capable rebounder from the wing and showed flashes of his playmaking ability last season, averaging 2.4 assists per game while playing predominantly off the ball. Though his path to playing time is not immediately clear in a crowded backcourt, maneuvering to hold on to a young wing with a still-developing all-around game is the kind of move that a successful franchise makes every time.
Sabreena Merchant: A
Keeping Ty Wallace was a smart decision for the Clippers, even if it means they’ll have to make some unpleasant choices down the line. For a team that doesn’t figure to be in title contention in the near-term, it makes sense to stock up on young players with potential, which is exactly what Wallace is. He showed an ability to create his own shot and get to the basket regularly last year, where he was a solid finisher. He was also a better defender than you’d expect for a rookie. There is obviously a ton of improvement necessary for Wallace to become a quality rotation player, most notably in terms of his shooting outside of the paint, but that is to be expected for anyone coming off of a two-way contract. Ultimately, the impact of resigning Wallace won’t be fully clear until we learn who else the Clippers have to part with as a result, but this is still good business. The Clippers are better off having a guy with a little bounce like Wallace—on an incredibly cheap contract, to boot—continuing his career in Los Angeles.
Eric Patten: B+
This surprise move would have been an ‘A’ if not for the roster gymnastics it will require in October. With 16 players guaranteed, it was seemingly inevitable that Jawun Evans would be the odd man out. Now, it has to be Evans and another guy (Wes Johnson?). The only other question for me, is what do you plan to do with Wallace? He should be valuable as another two-way athlete on the wing. His spot minutes last year were outstanding, and he was arguably the best of the Clippers’ six rookies. Remember the way he was unafraid in the blowout victory at Golden State? That was awesome, and there’s something to be said about a guy who has gone through some things in his career (60th pick, 2-way purgatory). Despite the glut of backcourt options, Wallace makes the Clippers better and deeper.
Michelle Uzeta: B
In exercising their right of first refusal to retain Tyrone Wallace, the Clippers locked in a versatile player who can contribute immediately for mere pennies. What’s not to like?
Wallace was of great benefit to the injury-ridden Clippers last season. The 24-year-old leftie played in 30 games for the franchise, starting in 19. He had great energy and moved well, averaging 9.7 points on 44.5 percent shooting, 3.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 28 minutes per game. At 6-foot-5 with a 6-10 wingspan, Wallace adds another lengthy body to the Clippers’ backcourt, joining Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome Robinson, and Sindarius Thornwell; the front office clearly has a vision in place.
Wallace also fits the culture of the “new” Clippers: blue collar, tough, and competitive. If he can improve his long-range shooting (he was only 25% from beyond the arc last season) and exercise more restraint when handling the ball, he could develop into a solid two-way player off the bench.
Getting minutes in the Clippers’ rotation may prove difficult for Wallace, as he is currently buried on a guard-heavy roster, with a number of players who are younger or more skilled than he is. Retaining Wallace probably also sounds the death knell for Evans and Wesley Johnson, who I believe the Clippers will shed in the upcoming weeks. Win-win, in my opinion.
Robert Flom: A
Tyrone Wallace was a good NBA player last year in his shortened rookie season. He can play defense at multiple positions, pass, and get to the hoop and finish. For a player who will probably end up as an off-ball player in the NBA, that’s an enticing (and rare) skillset. Just 24 years old, Tyrone’s only tangible weakness is his utter lack of a jumpshot. And there are concerns that if he doesn’t develop one, his effectiveness will diminish as scouting reports on his game are drawn out. Still, there’s no reason he can’t improve on it, and even if he doesn’t he’s probably an NBA rotation player. With one, he could be quite good indeed. And considering his contract is incredibly cheap, just 2 years for $3 million with a very low guarantee? That’s a fantastic signing.