Shams Charania and Jovan Buha of the Athletic are reporting that the Clippers are re-signing Johnathan Motley to a two-way deal for next season. Motley was on a two-way deal for the Clippers last season, but was not given a qualifying offer at the end of the year, making him an unrestricted free agent. It hasn’t been reported that he’s been in discussions with any other teams, so it’s possible that he and the Clippers agreed that they’d bring him back later in the summer.
Motley, 24, is going into his third NBA season, and played in 22 games for the Clippers last year, averaging 4.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game in 7.7 minutes. A productive player in the G-League, Motley has the tools to be a strong offensive big man in the NBA, but needs to work on his defense if he’s going to solidify his role in the “big leagues”. Still, anyone with his ability to score in the paint can bring some value, and he’s put up big numbers in the NBA whenever he’s been given a chance. The Clippers are still rather thin at center, with only Ivica Zubac, Montrezl Harrell, and rookie Mfiondu Kabengele as true big men on the roster, though JaMychal Green can certainly play there for stretches when the Clippers go small.
Motley is the Clippers’ second two-way player, along with Amir Coffey, leaving the Clippers with just two regular open roster slots to fill. While Motley is promising, the Clippers probably don’t want him playing in the rotation much this season. My guess would be that if one of Zu or Trez gets injured, they might add a veteran center to sop up the rotation minutes, though it’s possible they trust Motley or Fi with some spot minutes here or there. The other roster slot will most likely be filled by a point guard, the other position where the Clippers’ depth chart is a bit lacking.
Regardless, it’s good to have Motley back on the Clippers — there aren’t many more promising players out there who the Clips could have signed to a two-way deal anyway. This is just a small move, but it’s another good signing in my book.