DEADLINE COMES AND GOES FOR CLIPPERS
MEMPHIS – Less than five hours after departing Los Angeles, the Clippers conducted practice at FedEx Forum in preparation for their third and final meeting of the season with the Memphis Grizzlies.
But after practice the discussion was all about the passing of the NBA’s trade deadline.
“It wasn’t really as much as people thought,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “I was amused by all the stories. We were in discussions with a lot of people. But never got anywhere.”
The Clippers (37-19) made two minor moves in the waning minutes of Thursday’s noon Pacific Time deadline, sending reserve forward Antawn Jamison to Atlanta in exchange for the draft rights to 2005 second rounder Cenk Akyol and dealing center Byron Mullens to Philadelphia along with a conditional second round Draft pick for a future second rounder.
Rivers explained the two trades.
“That was more for flexibility for the summer,” Rivers said. “Those are tough ones for me. From a coaching standpoint, to do a move that is not necessarily making the team better is very difficult. But from a team standpoint it was the right thing to do.”
The 37-year-old Jamison, who was signed this summer, appeared in 22 games after waiting nearly a month before making his debut. Rivers said the decision to move Jamison was in part because of the Jan. 16 signing of Hedo Turkoglu as well as the prospects of playing forward Jared Dudley at the 4-spot in small-ball lineups.
“It really never came, but it was more me than him,” Rivers said. “I think Antawn did everything we asked him to do. What I really decided was if we’re going to go small, I like [Dudley] at that position more than a 4. Dud’s ability to stretch the floor and then we bring in [Turkoglu], so that’s probably why we did it.”
The Clippers’ roster stands at 12 players. NBA rules require that they sign a 13th man within the next two weeks. However, they are going to take time evaluating who is out there.
“I don’t think we’re in any rush,” Rivers said. “We’re out looking and there are some guys out there. Buyout season could happen pretty soon, too. That’s the next new thing we can talk about it.”
Chris Paul, who will make his fourth consecutive start Friday since returning from a separated shoulder that cost him 18 games, said he it was “extremely tough” to see Jamison and Mullens go. Paul, though, said he trusts that the Clippers, and Rivers, are making moves to help the team.
“I’ve got too much going on to be thinking or worried about that,” Paul said. “And I think our team’s been in a great place. When you have a coaching staff like we have, you know they’re all about winning and stuff like that. So, anything that happens is going to be for the betterment of the team.”
BARNES RELIEVED TO STAY IN L.A.
The trade deadline is always filled with wild rumors and speculation and no Clippers’ player heard their name mentioned as much as Matt Barnes. He said it was difficult to wait through the deadline while the team sat on the runway inside their plane prior to leaving for Memphis.
“The plane was a sweatbox,” Barnes said. “It’s the business. We sat on that plane for almost two hours and kind of looking around in silence, looking on Twitter and saw the trade was official, saw that it wasn’t, saw that [Antawn] got traded, saw that Byron got traded. We had to stop the plane to let them off. It’s tough. Any time you lose a teammate, your team is your family, so it’s tough to see those guys go. But for me, personally, I was sweating the whole time.”
Barnes, who is in the second year of his second stint with the Clippers, said the season has been “frustrating’’ for him as he’s fought through various injuries and struggled to find a consistent rhythm. But he is glad to refocus on basketball after not knowing what would happen Thursday.
“I’m just relieved it’s over,” Barnes said. “Now, our only focus is winning games with the group we have and we know we have enough of what it takes to win it. We’ve just got to start locking in right now.”