Los Angeles Clippers: Ryan Gomes

The Italian Job

July, 10, 2012
7/10/12
10:42
PM PT
Blake Griffin is locked up for the next five years. Jamal Crawford will soon be introduced. Chauncey Billups is coming back. So is Lamar Odom. That's a nice core. But who fills out the rest of the roster?

One of the players the Clippers have interest in is Italian sharpshooter Marco Belinelli, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Belinelli averaged 11.8 points a game for the New Orleans Hornets last season. He's a career 39 percent shooter from beyond the 3-point arc, something the Clippers desperately lacked after Billups was lost for the season with an Achilles injury.

The Clippers have discussed signing Belinelli with their bi-annual exception and various sign-and-trades with the Hornets, one of which involves small forward Ryan Gomes and a pick heading to New Orleans.

Report cards: Jordan

June, 1, 2012
6/01/12
6:22
AM PT
Here is the 12th player capsule in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until next week, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.

We started with Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, quickly moved on to Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and continued with Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Nick Young, Mo Williams and Caron Butler. Now, we do DeAndre Jordan.

2011-2012 contributions: Was Jordan's 2011-2012 campaign what the Clippers envisioned when they matched Golden State's four-year, $43 million offer sheet to him last December? No. Was it a complete and outright disappointment? Not that, either. The question is which of those it's closer to, and an argument can be made for both. The same on-again, off-again defensive struggles he had his first three NBA seasons were plain to see again this season, and it's hard to name something he got better at, other than free-throw shooting -- which was still poor at 53 percent. One definite positive: He has proven to be an effective rebounder, and that didn't change either, as his per-minute rebound rate was actually better than Blake Griffin's. But he pulled a gradual disappearing act all season, with his points per game declining each month. And then he went the first 10 playoff games without finishing in double digits in points or rebounds a single time.

2012-2013 prediction: Jordan is a Clipper to stay. Going forward, it's vital to the franchise's success that he learns how to become at least a serviceable offensive player in non-dunk situations. Developing reliable post moves has been a focus in his first four years, but that effort has yet to result in anything tangible. Luckily, he's still just 23 and has time to learn. Also, if Jordan can get his free-throw rate to flirt with 60 percent, then Vinny Del Negro could actually keep him on the court late in games. And an $11 million man should be able to play 3o effective minutes per game, which Jordan has yet to do for extended stretches of his NBA career. Plus, it'll help his per-game numbers look a little better.

Grade: C+

Report cards: Young

May, 30, 2012
5/30/12
11:57
AM PT
Here is the ninth player capsule in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until next Tuesday, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.

We started with rookies Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, moved on to small forwards Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and then Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans and Eric Bledsoe. Now, we do the last of the bench players: Nick Young.

2011-2012 contributions: Young did not play well in his first few weeks with the Clippers this year, once he was acquired for next-to-nothing at the trade deadline. Then he began to bounce back in April and peaked with a 19-point performance in an end-of-year win over Oklahoma City. He then matched that output in Game 1 of the first-round series against Memphis and hit several other big shots in the 10 remaining playoff games -- while memorably dealing with significant pain from impacted wisdom teeth that he has since had removed. Young still shot better than 50 percent from the field in only two of the 22 regular-season games he played for the Clips.

2012-2013 prediction: Young is probably the most likely Clipper free agent to be brought back next season, partially because he played well toward the end of his brief tenure last season and partially because he actually fits their long-term needs fairly well. But his contract demands are an unknown, and he's proven to be a bit of a loose cannon when it comes to free agency. Few could have predicted a year ago that Young would end up re-signing with Washington after the lockout for just one year and $3.5 million, but that's exactly what he did. If he does come back to the Clippers, he probably steps into a starting role alongside Chris Paul in the backcourt -- because if the Clips are paying him enough to return, then they're not going to be able to bring in much else at his spot.

Grade: C+

Report cards: Bledsoe

May, 30, 2012
5/30/12
11:57
AM PT
Here is the eighth player capsule in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until next Tuesday, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.

We started with rookies Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, moved on to small forwards Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and then Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans. Now, we do Eric Bledsoe.

2011-2012 contributions: Bledsoe missed the first month of the season while recovering from an offseason meniscus tear and didn't even get into the rotation until March, but he was very productive in the final month and in the playoffs. In fact, Bledsoe was arguably the Clippers' third or fourth most important player in their playoff run, when he consistently came in and injected energy to the rest of the club during his limited minutes. He finished the team's 11 playoff games with averages of 7.9 points, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals, but those numbers don't do his production justice. Bledsoe was, to put it simply, a postseason revelation.

2012-2013 prediction: He's a key piece to the puzzle going forward, and it'll be interesting to see how his role changes over this offseason depending on what the Clippers do around him. His status will change significantly based on whether or not Mo Williams chooses to return next season. Ideally, Bledsoe would be a 20-25 minute per-game guard next season, serving as Paul's direct backup but also sharing the court with him at times. But if Williams comes back, that'll be different.

Grade: B+

Report cards: Foye

May, 30, 2012
5/30/12
3:44
AM PT
Here is the 11th player capsule in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until next week, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.

We started with Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, quickly moved on to Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and continued with Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Nick Young and Mo Williams. Now, we start the starting lineup with Randy Foye.

2011-2012 contributions: Well, he definitely did better than last year. After a disappointing 2010-2011 season, Foye proved to actually be a useful player when thrust into a starting role in 2011-2012, hitting 39 percent of his 3-point shots to rank in the top 40 in the NBA. His defense still left a lot to be desired, and there are inherent problems in the way he plays offense: i.e., he doesn't maximize the things he's best at, and he's arguably getting worse at playing to his strengths. Foye is a superb foul shooter, yet he attempted only 85 free throws all season -- good for by far the lowest per-minute rate of his career -- and missed just 12 of them. Part of that is because his role changed into more of a spot-up shooter once Chris Paul arrived in Clipperland, but part of it is also because he just didn't drive into the lane very much.

2012-2013 prediction: It's highly unlikely that Foye will be back with the Clippers next season. He just finished up a two-year, $8.5 million deal, and there's no reason the team would want to bring him back for anything around that money. It's hard to predict what kind of contract he'll fetch on the open market, but at least he put up a better season this year for his financial sake. If he does re-up with the Clippers, it'll likely be (1) a surprise and (2) a short-term, low-value deal struck late in the free-agency process when other opportunities have dried up.

Grade: B-

Report cards: Evans

May, 29, 2012
5/29/12
11:25
AM PT
Here is the seventh player capsule in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until next Tuesday, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.

We started with rookies Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, moved on to small forwards Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and then Chauncey Billups and forward Kenyon Martin. Now, we do Reggie Evans.

2011-2012 contributions: Evans did exactly what the Clippers asked him to do last season -- which isn't necessarily to say that he played particularly well. He just did what he's done each of his 10 seasons in the NBA: rebound well and do everything else poorly. The man simply cannot shoot. But, hey, he still rebounded at an impressive rate of 16.9 boards per 48 minutes, almost exactly matching his career averages. A crazy stat: He made 34 field goals the entire season, meaning he had eight times as many rebounds as made shots.

2012-2013 prediction: There's a reason Evans has bounced around the league so much despite being so good at something, and it's not because he's a bad locker room guy. (The young Clippers, Thompkins and Leslie, looked up to him this season.) It's because he's hard to hide on the court, especially on offense. And the truth is he's not a fantastic defensive player either, when you move him away from the glass. The next team Evans signs with will be the sixth of his career, and yes, that means we're predicting he's not going to be a Clipper next season. The team simply doesn't need both Evans and Martin, and Martin brings more to the table than Evans does.

Grade: C+

Report cards: Martin

May, 28, 2012
5/28/12
10:31
AM PT
Here is the fifth player capsule in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until Tuesday, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.

We started with rookies Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, moved on to small forwards Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and then did guard Chauncey Billups. Now, we grade forward Kenyon Martin.

Kenyon Martin

2011-2012 contributions: Martin was a late addition to the mix as a February signee because he signed a deal in China during the lockout, but he ended up playing a fairly large role in the Clippers' end of-year rotation. He finished the year averaging 5.2 points and 4.3 rebounds and kept producing at a similar rate in the postseason -- albeit in fewer minutes. Martin wasn't really a perfect fit with the rest of the Clippers' roster: They needed a 7-foot big man with offensive skills and they got an undersized four-man with a declining offensive game but nice defensive and rebounding acumen. Still, he was at times effective, and he did produce two big-time performances in the final two games of the Memphis series and just played well overall in the playoffs.

2012-2013 prediction: Where does Martin fit in with the Clippers' roster of the future? He doesn't, really. But he does make some sense for next season, simply because he's a better option than anybody else the team could get for the veteran's minimum. They can use the non-Bird exception on him and pay him around $3 million, without having to worry about the cap at all. For that reason, he's probably the second most likely of the Clippers free agents to come back next season, after Nick Young. As long as Neil Olshey pairs Martin with a capable backup center and not someone like Reggie Evans, then bringing him back will probably be applauded.

Grade: B

Clipper report cards: Billups

May, 27, 2012
5/27/12
3:30
PM PT
Here is the fifth player capsule in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until Tuesday, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.

We started with rookies Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie and moved on to small forwards Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons. Next is guard Chauncey Billups.

Chauncey Billups

2011-2012 contributions: Billups, an unexpected and unorthodox offseason pickup, was the Clippers' third scorer and a key playmaker -- for the season's first 20 games, after which he tore his Achilles tendon on the road against Orlando and missed the final two-thirds of the year. When he was healthy, he was doing everything well except two-point field-goal shooting, and that was bound to bounce back up at some point. He finished averaging 15 points and four assists per game, nice numbers for someone adjusting to a new position on the fly. His most memorable moment as a Clipper was probably the game-winner he hit against Dallas at home in January, in a game that Chris Paul missed due to injury.

2012-2013 prediction: Good question. Billups is almost certain to miss a significant portion of the upcoming season while recovering from the torn Achilles, so his status is a complete unknown. He has maintained since the injury that he will play again in the NBA, and there's no real reason to doubt him. There is reason, however, to wonder when that comeback will be and where exactly it'll occur. A lot of that will have to do with his salary requests, and, as the Clippers pursue a more traditionally-sized two-guard this offseason, it's unlikely that Billups will be back in a Clipper uniform.

Grade: Incomplete

Report cards: Gomes and Simmons

May, 25, 2012
5/25/12
1:25
PM PT
Here are the third and fourth player capsules in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season.

The grades started with rookies Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie. We continue here with small forwards Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons.

Ryan Gomes

2011-2012 contributions: Gomes had his worst season as a professional this year, playing in fewer than half of the Clips' 66 regular-season contests and scoring in double digits only one time. The last time he played in a game was mid-March and the last time he played meaningful minutes was mid-February. Incidentally, that was also when he made a crucial mistake on an inbounds pass against the San Antonio Spurs and arguably cost the Clippers a big win against their eventual second-round opponents. Gomes lost his spot in the rotation to a guy on a 10-day contract, which we'll get to in more detail later, but that's never a good sign in the NBA.

2012-2013 prediction: Gomes, a fantastic locker-room guy, appears to have the best chance of any Clipper to be amnestied because of his contract situation. He has one more year remaining on his deal at $4 million, and his only real discernible value at this point would be as an expiring contract to add on to a trade. It's ironic -- last November he joked on Twitter that the amnesty clause in the new CBA could play a role in his future with the club after his poor debut season with the Clips in 2010-2011. That's no longer a laughing matter. If he stays with the team, it's unlikely he'll be anything more than an end-of-the-bench guy.

Grade: D

Bobby Simmons

2011-2012 contributions: Simmons did more than expected for this season's Clippers, which isn't necessarily saying much considering he was nowhere near the team's radar at the start of the year. With Simmons averaging 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds in the D-League in February, Neil Olshey picked him up off the scrap heap. He performed well defensively in the 32 games he appeared in from then on but really struggled shooting the ball -- making only 20 of his 60 field-goal attempts. He did start a playoff game for only the sixth time in his career and logged 32 playoff minutes.

2012-2013 prediction: It's unlikely that the 31-year-old Simmons will be brought back next season, because the Clippers are likely to seek out swingmen who better complement Caron Butler this offseason. He did prove this year that he's good enough to stick in the league on one side of the ball, at least.

Grade: C+

The secret to the officiating

March, 17, 2012
3/17/12
5:31
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Randy Foye said he didn't want to talk too much about what was discussed in Thursday's players-only meeting following the Clippers' loss to the Phoenix Suns.

But, speaking after Saturday's come-from-behind win over the Houston Rockets, he did reveal one telling topic of conversation from the extended meeting, adding context to something Vinny Del Negro touched on that night in his postgame news conference.

In short, Foye said, the Clippers "have to hold ourselves accountable for our actions on the court."

By that, he mainly means in terms of the officiating. Keep complaining to the officials, he said, and you have to accept the fact that they're possibly going to pay you back for it.

"If you just play, you'll get more calls," said Foye, one of the Clippers' leaders this year, along with Ryan Gomes, Chris Paul and Caron Butler. "If you don't complain, you'll get more calls."

Many would say Blake Griffin could benefit from hearing that. And perhaps he did -- the star forward noticeably complained only one time during Saturday's win over the Rockets, putting both hands on his head in the second half after being called for a defensive foul in what has become his signature move this season.

Foye said one of the reasons the Clippers were able to win Saturday's game was that they didn't let calls get to them as frequently as they have other times this season.

"Tonight, we could have complained about certain things, but we let that go," Foye said. "In the past, we've complained too much, but tonight we did a better job."

Minnesota has what the Clippers don't

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
12:55
AM PT
What are the Los Angeles Clippers missing?

It's pretty clear after Tuesday's game, when Clippers stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul combined for 57 points -- 20 more than Minnesota's entire starting lineup -- and the team still lost by 12.

They're missing bench forwards who can score, guys like Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley, who were solely responsible for the Timberwolves' 109-97 win with their 54 points on 25 shots in Tuesday's game.

The Wolves have exactly what the Clippers need.

Minnesota coach Rick Adelman starts Wesley Johnson and Kevin Love in his forward slots but brings in Williams and Beasley off the bench for an average of 43 minutes a game.

Since Kenyon Martin debuted with the team earlier this month, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro has started Griffin and Caron Butler in his forward slots and brought in Martin, Reggie Evans and Ryan Gomes off the bench for an average of 45 minutes a game.

Martin and Evans are capable defenders and useful rebounders but leave a lot to be desired on the offensive end -- Evans especially. New 10-day signee Bobby Simmons took over Gomes' minutes in Tuesday's game, but the point stands.

The Clippers don't have anyone taller than 6-1 on their bench capable of going for 20 points in a given game. And when Mo Williams, the 6-1 player, and Butler don't shoot well in a given game, that will spell trouble.

Not so for Minnesota. Love had just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting and Ricky Rubio only two on 1-of-8, but Williams, Beasley and reserve swingman Martell Webster picked up the scoring punch for them.

"They have a lot of scorers," Del Negro said. And a couple of them got hot."

Del Negro has said all season that Williams is the Clippers' key guy off the bench. But that's the problem: good teams need more than one key reserve, more than one capable scorer.

But changes might be coming. The Clippers leave Wednesday for a six-game road trip that takes them to Minnesota and San Antonio, among other places.

By the time they get back early on the morning of March 10, the trade deadline will be only five days away.

Beasley might be available for trade. Other forwards who fit the need probably will, too.

Video: Del Negro on loss to San Antonio

February, 18, 2012
2/18/12
6:20
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Here's Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro talking to the media following his team's 103-100 overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday at Staples Center.

Del Negro discussed the final seconds of regulation in full detail but refused to take the blame for how the Ryan Gomes-to-Chris Paul inbounds pass ended up. The Clips' coach did like his team's overall effort.

Kenyon Martin: How he fits

February, 3, 2012
2/03/12
4:40
PM PT
When the Chris Paul trade was first announced, there was a small contingency of critics who felt the Clippers had sacrificed too much in the deal. A lack of depth was given as the primary reason they would be unable to contend for a title in a brutally condensed 66-game season.

Kenyon Martin
Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesKenyon Martin figures to bring a new element to the Clippers' bench as a threat in pick-and-roll situations.
Early on, despite the Clippers' current place atop the Pacific Division standings, there has been some legitimacy laid to those claims. The Clippers' second unit has been outperformed on a consistent basis, and coach Vinny Del Negro has struggled to find a way to rest his star players without losing leads. Without any real depth in the frontcourt, the Clippers looked more vulnerable than deeper contenders in the Western Conference such as Denver or Portland.

Despite facing some pressure to do so, Neil Olshey, Clippers vice president of basketball operations, never put the cart in front of the horse. Instead of panicking and trading a red-hot Mo Williams for multiple role players, or moving the last young asset on the team in Eric Bledsoe, the Clippers remained patient for a solution to shore up their depth.

The Clippers have found that solution in veteran forward Kenyon Martin, who agreed to terms on a contract Friday for the mini-mid-level exception of $2.5 million.

Even if Martin, an All-Star in 2004, isn’t the player he once was after multiple injuries, he still represents a huge upgrade to the frontcourt. The Clippers have given combo-forward Ryan Gomes 16.3 minutes a game and backup center Solomon Jones 9.7 minutes a game only to watch them combine for a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of less than 5.0. For comparison sake, the league average PER rating is 12.7 this season. Martin, meanwhile, has a career PER of 15.4. Just by simply absorbing the minutes given to Gomes and Jones, Martin represents an upgrade.

Like his former teammate Chauncey Billups, Martin has found a way to cheat Father Time a bit and delay his decline. Defensively he remains a solid weakside defender who is capable of getting up and challenging shots at the rim. For a team lacking any shotblocking threat outside of DeAndre Jordan, Martin’s presence in the paint will be well received.

(Read full post)

What to watch: Clippers-Raptors

January, 21, 2012
1/21/12
9:24
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers finally let their fourth-quarter collapses get to them Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, falling 101-98 despite taking a 12-point lead early in the final period.

Sunday, they get a fairly easy chance to rebound against the Toronto Raptors before taking two days off and facing the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Here are three things to pay attention to once the ball is tipped at Staples Center.

1. Rebounding and beating the teams you're supposed to beat

No, not that type of rebounding. The Clippers have actually gotten quite the hang of the glass since adding Reggie Evans. It's not nearly the issue it was two weeks ago.

What is an issue, though: Rebounding from a letdown loss. The 8-5 Clips shouldn't have lost to the Timberwolves on Friday, and they know it.

"It's a game we definitely should have won," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Saturday, clearly still peeved.

It's a similar situation Sunday against the 4-12 Raptors, who haven't beaten a .500 or better team all season and have only won one game over the last 18 days.

The Clippers had their longest film session of the 2011-2012 season Saturday, and Del Negro held the players in practice over an hour after the scheduled end time, stressing some basics like down-the-stretch execution and free-throw shooting.

The message wasn't so much tied to the Raptors. It was mainly about the Clippers themselves and what they could to do to prevent the second two-game losing streak of the season.

(Read full post)

Postgame thoughts: Minnesota loss

January, 21, 2012
1/21/12
8:06
AM PT
Here are some items of note from the Los Angeles Clippers' 101-98 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Staples Center.

The final play

For the second straight game, the Clippers' fates came down to a final play at the Staples Center -- and 3-pointers both, at that. But Friday's shot was by Kevin Love of Minnesota, whereas Chauncey Billups hit a big 3-pointer on Wednesday to beat Dallas.

What happened on Love's shot?

The short answer: DeAndre Jordan, assigned to cover him, didn't know what was going on. He was screened well by Wayne Ellington and Ricky Rubio, but he didn't diagnose what was actually happening on the play until the ball was already almost in Love's hands behind the 3-point line.

When Love caught it, Jordan was at the free-throw line. He wasn't even a factor in defending the shot.

The long answer: The play that was run is well-established as one of Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman's go-to's in late-game situations, dating back to his days in Sacramento. But Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro and defensive assistant Dean Demopoulos evidently didn't plan for it.

As Love later said, you could tell the Clippers had no idea what was coming simply by the way they lined up. Three of their defenders -- plus Blake Griffin, who was chasing Derrick Williams -- were lined up on the basket side, which left Love completely open when he broke the opposite way.

Just like that, the ball was in the basket and the game was over. Del Negro made a point of saying after the game that the shot wasn't the only reason the Clippers lost, and he was quite right.

But it's also true that the game would likely have gone to overtime if the Clips had played the last shot right.

(Read full post)

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