PLAYA VISTA, Calif. – The Clippers had initially planned to introduce Reggie Bullock on Tuesday, Doc Rivers said, but when the coach thought more about that plan, it worried him.
“I wanted to introduce this young man the right way as a Clipper before we run the heck out of him like two hours from now,” Rivers said. “The way we were going to run him today and tomorrow, I didn’t feel like he would have any breath to talk to you guys.”
He was joking – maybe. Bullock, the Clippers’ first-round draft pick, didn’t seem so sure. He didn’t yet know what he was in for when he met the media for the first time on Monday before the Clippers’ first practice of their summer league mini camp.
Bullock, a wing player who says he can play shooting guard or small forward, was selected 25th overall by the Clippers on June 27. He will be one of 14 players on the team’s summer league squad, which will play its first game on Friday against the Hawks in Las Vegas. The Clippers had only one pick in June’s draft; the rest of the summer league roster comprises undrafted free agents and players with minimal NBA experience.
On Monday, Rivers talked briefly about his relationship with Bullock; the coach has seen his newest player play a good deal, including in rivalry games when Bullock was at North Carolina and Rivers’s son, Austin, was at Duke. Rivers said that the Clippers are especially impressed with Bullock’s shot and his size and that his defense may prove surprisingly good by the time the season begins.
Bullock will play a reserve role with the team next season barring massive injuries or roster changes, and he seemed fine with the prospect of taking some time to learn from the veterans around him. If he forces his way into the rotation, that’s fine, but the Clippers hope to have such depth that they don’t have to rely on the rookie for much.
“I think Doc will do a good job with him because he’s so good at developing players,” Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks said.
Bullock described Rivers as a “father figure,” and he seemed almost overwhelmed by the prospect of playing for such a respected coach. Rivers isn’t Bullock’s only tie to the Clippers, though; the rookie played for Chris Paul’s AAU team growing up in North Carolina. He’s already in with the team’s biggest name, and he said that Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have also reached out to him since he was drafted.
“Those are the three important ones,” Rivers joked.
Other summer league notes:
– Malik Wayns, who played six games last season for the Clippers, and DaJuan Summers, who played in two, will both play for the Clippers at summer league.
– Jonny Flynn will join the Clippers’ squad after playing with the Pacers in the much-smaller Orlando summer league this week. Flynn was the sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft, and he played for the Timberwolves, Rockets and Trail Blazers before falling out of the league in 2012. He played the 2012-13 season in Australia for the Melbourne Tigers.
– Seven undrafted rookies will play for the team: BYU’s Brandon Davies, Alabama’s JaMychal Green, Kansas’s Elijah Johnson, Washington State’s Derrick Low, Oklahoma’s Amath M’Baye, Cal Berkley’s Jerome Randle and North Carolina State’s Scott Woods.
– Rounding out the group will be JaJuan Johnson, who played with the Celtics in 2011-12 and in the D-League ever since; Vernon Macklin, who 2011-12 with Detroit and last season in the D-League and in the Philippines and Samardo Samuels, who’s bounced between the Cavaliers and the D-League since 2010.
– According to Sacks, Tyronn Lue will coach the summer league team. Lue is a former NBA guard who served as Rivers’s assistant in Boston and has joined his Clippers staff.