Clippers still in need of roster shuffle

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
10:00
PM PT
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A day after the NBA trade deadline, the Los Angeles Clippers stepped into FedEx Forum with 12 jerseys hanging around their locker room.

It was three fewer than the Clippers had last week and two fewer than the team expected to have when they boarded their flight for Memphis on Thursday morning. Such is life in the NBA this time of year as teams shuffle their rosters for a playoff push.

[+] EnlargeDoc Rivers
Justin Ford/USA TODAY SportsDoc Rivers will do some recruiting over the next week as he tries to reinforce the Clippers' roster.
After Thursday's 102-96 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, it's clear the Clippers aren't -- or at least shouldn't be -- done with shuffling their roster.

The Clippers have three available roster spots after deciding not to extend Sasha Vujacic's 10-day contract and trading away Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens.

There will be plenty of players for the Clippers to choose from when they return home Tuesday from their three-game trip, notably Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who played for Rivers when he coached the Boston Celtics.

"You always do," Rivers said when asked if he would be recruiting this week. "I'm not going to say any names, but there's more than one team that wants all these guys, at least a lot of the guys. You have to talk to them, for sure."

Rivers was cautious not to say Davis' name after Davis negotiated a buyout with the Orlando Magic earlier Friday but said he wasn't surprised to hear Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are reportedly trying to lure Davis to Brooklyn.

"I think they always liked him," Rivers said. "It doesn't surprise me at all. That group won a title together and came one game away from winning another one. You'd think there's a kinship."

When Rivers picks up the phone this week or next week to speak to prospective free agents, his sales pitch won't be particularly long or extravagant. He said he doesn't necessarily think it needs to be with a championship contender in Los Angeles.

"We want to win," Rivers said. "That's it. Other than that, I'm not a beauty queen or anything; they're not going to come play for me for my looks or anything. But, it's the opportunity of winning is what anyone should want. And we're one of a lot of teams that has that opportunity."

The need for the Clippers to add some players, preferably in the front court, to bolster their second unit was on display Friday as the bench was outscored 43-7. On Tuesday, when the Clippers lost to the San Antonio Spurs 113-103, the bench was outscored 41-20.

Rivers seemed more concerned about the team's lack of defense than the play of the second unit. The Clippers have given up more than 100 points in six of the past seven games and are 3-4 during that stretch.

"When we don't score, that's fine, but you've got to be able to get stops," Rivers said. "Our second unit didn't kill this offense. They gave up 32 points defensively, and that's what hurt us. I think we scored 23 points in the second quarter, so it wasn't the offense, it was the defense. We have to get better at that."

Chris Paul didn't want to blame the second unit as he sat at his locker after the game. Players such as Darren Collison and Jamal Crawford, who have been thrust into starting roles with injuries to Paul and J.J. Redick were a big reason the Clippers were 14-6 without Paul this season.

"There's going to be nights like that," Paul said. "I just said that in our locker room. We are going to have nights where we are not clicking and the bench is going to have to carry us and vice versa. That's not a big concern, because we are a team. We just have to pick each other up. We can learn from it. We fought down the stretch. We have to figure out how to come out of the gate like that."

The problem for the Clippers is Redick is going to be out for the foreseeable future because of a bulging disk, meaning Crawford, who is the current favorite for Sixth Man of the Year, is now a starter. Also, after the Clippers' trades this week, the only real big man they have after Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan is Ryan Hollins. That's not going to cut it in the playoffs and certainly not against the likes of Memphis.

That's why the Clippers need to not only sign Davis -- who has been part of a championship team -- but perhaps another player or two to bolster the bench and the front court.

The current 12-man roster doesn't have a player with a championship ring. Rivers, whose résumé and cache with players was certainly bolstered by his championship ring, however, didn't seem to think that was important.

"The Seahawks didn't seem to be bothered by that, they did OK," Rivers said of the Super Bowl champions. "I just think at the end of the day, you have to be playing well and you have to be mentally ready, and that's more important."

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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