LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers paid their way into the NBA draft Thursday night to pick up South Carolina guard Sindarius Thornwell.
The 48th-overall pick belonged to the Milwaukee Bucks before the Clippers acquired it for cash.
Thornwell averaged 21.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals with the Gamecocks last season in helping his team to the Final Four.
“In regards to Sindarius what we identified early on is we wanted to add tough, competitive, hard-playing, high basketball IQ players to complement our team,” Clippers Executive Vice President Lawrence Frank said. “Sindarius has shown the ability to play multiple positions, and if you look at what he did as leader of the South Carolina team, take them to the Final Four, their program had never achieved success like he did. He’s just a winner.”
Now Los Angeles’ attention likely moves to trying to re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Both players can opt out of their contracts and become free agents. Frank would not say if they had done so yet. Guard J.J. Redick is an unrestricted free agent.
“Chris and Blake obviously are franchise players so we’re going to do everything we can to put together a team that competes for championships every single year,” Frank said.
Los Angeles went into the draft without a pick. If not for trades, the Clippers would have held the 23rd and 56th selections. Los Angeles dealt their first-round pick as part of a 2014 trade of Jared Dudley to the Bucks.
Los Angeles gave up their 2017 second-round selection as part of the trade for Austin Rivers in 2015.
The Clippers wanted to get a player in the draft and they saw using cash as the best way to accomplish it.
“We were really fortunate because the way we got the pick tonight was because (owner) Steve Ballmer paid for the pick,” Frank said. “Not everyone has that good fortune and with that being said we’re going to put together a roster that’s competing for championships and can sustain excellence for a long time.”
The draft was the first for Hall of Famer Jerry West with the Clippers. LA hired West last week as a consultant. He most recently worked with the Golden State Warriors.
Coach Doc Rivers still has final say on player moves, but the Clippers said they enjoyed having West in the room as they tried to shape their future.