TALKING CLIPS: DAN WOIKE
Eric Patten, Clippers.com
Orange County Register reporter Dan Woike, who has covered the Clippers from day one of the Chris Paul era, sat down with Eric Patten of Clippers.com during halftime of a Summer League game in Las Vegas. The two talked about the ownership transition, where the Clippers might see the most improvement in year two under Doc Rivers and much more.
Here is the full transcript of their conversation:
Eric Patten, Clippers.com: You were around the Clippers all season, as close as anybody. What affect do you think, if any, the potential ownership transition is going to have on the franchise moving forward just from a standpoint of what the team feels or looks like?
Dan Woike, Orange County Register:“Assuming that the sale, or the deal, goes through, it seems like it will eventually, I think you’re getting an owner who has tried to be in the NBA multiple times. And because of that I think he’s a guy who is not going to pinch pennies at all. From a quality of life standpoint, which is a weird phrase to use because the quality of life is already really good, you’ll see little things. It’s not like the team can just go and say, ‘We’ve got a crazy rich owner let’s go sign LeBron and whatever.’ The salary cap prevents that, but I think the biggest change is going to be infrastructure and things like that; more money spent on scouting, assistant coaches, things like that that elevate the organization as a whole and make it a more attractive place. To be honest, even when some of those things weren’t in play over the last three years because of the talent it’s been a pretty attractive place.”
EP: What have you made of what the Clippers have done in the first few weeks of the offseason? And where do you see them going, in terms of additional moves they might make?
DW:“It’s been interesting. I think it’s pretty clear the thing they felt was available that they valued most was shooting. And this was a team that scored a lot of points last year and to spend on more offense is interesting to me. A lot of that comes from Doc [Rivers] and his defensive system. I think he believes that it’s easier for him to get a guy to be a better defender than for him to take a guy who’s not a shooter and turn him into a shooter.
EP: In a way, then, is it déjà vu to last summer because we’re having the same conversation when Doc’s introducing J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley?
DW:“It’s funny. It’s one of those things that you look at them last year and say, ‘They’ve got all these great shooters.’ But they were [in the bottom third] in the league in percentage. If you can move that up to eighth, how many more points per game is that? Is that two more makes per game? Now they’re talking about them scoring 115 points a game almost. They can be that kind of an offense.
“They’re kind of locked in at this point moving forward. They don’t have a lot fof money left to spend. They’re locked in under the hard cap. They’ve got to use veteran minimums or make a trade. I think they’re counting on some in-house improvements to make up for some of the moves they weren’t able to make in free agency and via trade. I think you look at a guy you mentioned, Jared Dudley. I think you look at Jared Dudely and say last year was one of the worst years he’s ever had as a pro. He’s too good to repeat that. And I think they are counting on that.”
EP: So, you speak of in-house improvement. How much does Reggie Bullok, particulary, but also C.J. Wilcox missing Summer League affect that arc of improvement?
DW:I think for Reggie it would have been really important to just get out here and play 30 minutes per game and take charge.”
EP: You see Tony Snell in Clippers’ game against the Bulls [when he scored 27 points].
DW: "Yeah, Tony Snell’s a great example of a guy who played sparingly his first year, but comes out here as a pro gets his confidence and the offense runs through him. He’s kind of gotten to be the playmaker. That would have been good for Reggie. For C.J. Wilcox, I think it would have been good to just get a taste of professional basketball. It’s unfortunate because you wind up watching a Summer League team of guys that are mostly being showcased for other jobs and really the Clippers are here because they agreed to be. If they find a guy they like out of it, awesome, but I don’t think they’re expecting that necessarily.”
EP: Sticking with Summer League, you’ve talked to Delonte West several times already. Can he add something? Can he be a piece to the Clippers or another team?
DW:“I think so. I think he’s a guy who’s still really talented. He’s not that old. He’s experienced. He’s played in big games. He’s tough. The problem with him is that he’s got an off-the-court stigma where the stuff he’s been involved in have given people an idea about him and it’s hard to prove people wrong. I think so far from everyone I’ve talked to he’s handled himself very well here. I think he’s still got to prove he can do certain things; be a better defender and stuff like that. It’s tough. I would think he’s good enough to get a chance with someone in camp.”
EP: Last thing, when you think about what DeAndre [Jordan] specifically did and the way he played with Doc being there. What is an offseason for Blake [Griffin] and DeAndre going to look like now having played for Doc for an entire season as opposed to last offseason when they get an idea from talking to him but they don’t really know what the system is like and what truly his expectations are as a coach?
DW:"You look at a guy like Blake and you look at the stuff he did well last year: facing the basket, attacking, ball-handling, strengths that he already has for his size. I think he’ll work more on that and get better at that stuff. I think you’ll see another step forward with shooting.
“For DeAndre, I think so much of it with him is confidence and he’ll understand the rotations and expectations mentally more. I think he can become a better offensive player, but that’s not his job on this team. His job is to know where everybody needs to be defensively. We watched them last year and saw some of the rotations hiccup at times, so having another a full year with the same core players… I think that’s got to be really valuable.”