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Clippers Retrospective: Ty Wallace Was a Steal for the Clips

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Tyrone Wallace might not be a star, but he provided a positive impact to the Clippers at very low cost, and was extremely fun to watch.

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Signed to a two-way deal on January 5, 2018. Waived by Clippers in August 2018, but re-signed after matching Pelicans’ offer sheet on September 7.
  • Played 92 games with Clippers over the 2017-2019 seasons, starting 19 contests (all in 2018)
  • Averaged 5.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game, shooting 43.5% from the field and 67.4% from the free throw line (1.5 attempts per game)
  • Had consistently positive on/off numbers, winning him the support of numerous Clippers fans
  • Waived July 6, 2019 by Clippers, and picked up off waivers by Timberwolves on July 8

Expectations

Tyrone Wallace had fairly low expectations when the Clippers signed him in January of 2018. His size, length, and mere warm body was needed for an injury-riddled Clippers squad, which at that point was starting second-round pick Jawun Evans. All that was expected was a handful of passable minutes a game until Milos Teodosic got healthy, though certainly people who watched the Agua Caliente Clippers knew Wallace had real talent. It seemed likely that he would get playing time, but the number of minutes and duration of time given to him in the NBA on his two-way deal were in question.

Reality

Ty immediately made an impact on the Clippers in the 2018, constantly pushing the pace and getting to the rim, where he was able to finish with his wide variety of floaters and flip shots. His length and lateral quickness made him a massive upgrade defensively over the undersized Evans, the lackadaisical Lou Williams, and the sieve-like Teodosic. Doc Rivers was quickly “forced” to start Wallace, and the Clippers surged during his first stint. Unfortunately, his 45 days ran out, and the Clippers had to move him to the G-League. While he was in Agua Caliente, the Clippers fell out of the playoff race for good. The two events were made not cause and effect, but there was certainly some correlation there.

It was surprising that the Clippers matched Wallace – even though he was a great find his rookie season, the addition of rookies Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson, and the retention of Teodosic and Avery Bradley made the Clippers’ guard rotation a crowded affair. It was even more shocking that Doc found room for Wallace, but he did. Ty appeared fairly consistently early in the season, and was the 5th man on the Clippers’ awesome bench unit. He did very little scoring, but his ballhandling, defense, and ability to push the tempo were all important elements to the unit’s success. After the All Star break, Doc shortened his rotations, and Wallace was slowly phased out for Wilson Chandler. Ty barely played in the playoffs, and his Clippers career ended with a squeak rather than a bang with some garbage time minutes against the Warriors.

Legacy

Ty Wallace island will float forever, though its property might be declining in value. Ty might have fallen off a bit in his second season with the Clippers, but he consistently made the team better when he played, and he deserves a spot in the second tier of players who made the two years between Lob City and Kawhi’s Clippers enjoyable and competitive. Ty was good, fun, and cheap, and while he doesn’t have a particular game or moment that cemented him as a Clipper to be remembered, he should linger in the hearts and minds of Clipper Nation for quite a while. Hopefully he has a nice NBA career, because his Clippers stint proved he deserves one.