Clippers look to heal with decisions looming about future
LOS ANGELES (AP) The Clippers are finally out of their misery, a long season marred by significant injuries coming to an end just short of the playoffs.
They finished with a winning record of 42-40, but their streak of consecutive postseason appearances ended at six. They closed out the season Wednesday night with a 115-100 loss to the Lakers, dropping their last four games in a row.
They kept their playoff hopes alive until the final week of the regular season despite the injuries. Eleven players missed a total of 265 games.
Coach Doc Rivers started an NBA-leading 37 different lineups because of the injuries. The Clippers were forced to dip into the G League for starters, most notably C.J. Williams (who was signed to a multi-year deal) and Tyrone Wallace.
But injuries soon befell the newcomers. Point guard Patrick Beverley was lost for the season after right knee surgery; starter Danilo Gallinari missed 60 games with hand and glute issues; backup guard Milos Teodosic was out 36 games with foot problems; and guard Avery Bradley was out 24 games.
Some takeaways from the Clippers’ season:
BIG MAN’S FUTURE: DeAndre Jordan has a player option of $24.1 million for next season or he could explore free agency. He and the team have yet to agree on an extension. ”I want to be where I’m wanted,” Jordan said. ”I want to have a chance to contend. That’s really what I’m looking at.” He averaged 12 points and 15.2 rebounds, but just 0.9 blocks. Jordan has spent his entire 10-year career with the Clippers and he turns 30 in July. ”Let’s not write the script yet,” Rivers said of Jordan’s future.
DOC’S FUTURE: Rivers is entering the final year of his contract. He could either receive an extension or leave after five years in Los Angeles. He was stripped of his duties as president of basketball operations a year ago, leaving his focus solely on the court. ”I love where we’re at as a franchise,” Rivers said. While he has yet to match the success he enjoyed in Boston (two NBA Finals appearances and one title), he pulled off one of his best coaching jobs by keeping the Clippers in contention all season when it would have been easy for them to fold. ”I really commend him for sticking with us,” Jordan said. Rivers trusted younger players to produce and swingman Montrezl Harrell blossomed under his tutelage.
LOU WILL: Lou Williams led the team with career highs in scoring (22.6 points) and assists (5.3) coming off the bench in his 13th season and first in Los Angeles. His scoring average was the highest of any reserve in the last 25 years. He received a $24 million, three-year deal in February and was a key reason the Clippers remained competitive despite their injuries. ”My job this summer is getting myself prepared,” he said. ”There’s always room for improvement.”
DRAFT PICKS: Besides their own pick, the Clippers will have Detroit’s pick that they received from trading Blake Griffin in January.
FREE AGENCY: Besides Jordan, the Clippers could have decisions to make if starting guard Austin Rivers and Teodosic exercise their player options and become free agents. Rivers averaged career highs in points, assists, 3-point percentage and minutes. Bradley will be an unrestricted free agent. However, injuries blunted his impact. Harrell will be a restricted free agent, which allows the Clippers to match any offer he would receive. He was an energetic force off the bench.
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