Notebook: Joerger On Clippers’ Special Year, Olympic Centers, Injury Update, More
SACRAMENTO – As a Grizzlies assistant coach during their playoff battles, and as their head coach afterward, Dave Joerger got to see the Clippers firsthand often.
Now the head coach in Sacramento, Joerger said before Wednesday’s matchup between the Kings and Clippers he believes this year could be “the one” for the Clippers.
“This could be a real special year for them,” Joerger said. “Hopefully, not tonight."
Joerger said the Clippers don’t look like a different team as much as they do a group whose continuity is allowing it to perform just about everything “to the nth degree.”
“There’s just a natural knowing where everybody’s going to be,” Joerger said. “Bang-bang, J.J. (Redick) pops it to a guy, hands it back, comes blazing off, throws it back. It’s just flip-flip, here-there, flip screens. Defensively, they know what they’re doing. Their IQ is off the charts, so they’re able to switch a lot of stuff and confuse teams that are just getting started.”
Joerger called the Marreese Speights pickup “huge,” adding that there are few holes on the team. He compared Luc Mbah a Moute to Tony Allen, a defensive stalwart he used to coach in Memphis, saying while Mbah a Moute might not score 20 points, he can limit an opposing three from doing so.
“That’s where he wins,” Joerger said. “They kind of have that, and then they have always had a nice mix with Jamal (Crawford) coming off the bench. They know what they are.”
DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus Cousins served as the centers this summer on a Team USA team that took home gold in Rio, and that inevitably built a friendship.
At least, when they’re not playing each other.
“Once 7:35 happens, until about 10 o’clock, I’ll hate DeMarcus,” Jordan said during Friday’s shootaround. “Then, right after that, that’s my guy. We won something together, something that was huge for our country, and we’ll be brothers bonded for life with that. I love him as a friend and a teammate, but when we’re playing against the Kings, I don’t like DeMarcus – and I’m pretty sure DeMarcus don’t like me, either.”
Welch Returns To Sacramento
Clippers assistant coach John Welch can routinely be spotted working with players individually before every game. Friday, he did so in a familiar place.
While the arena is different, the location isn’t. Welch, who’s been an assistant for five different teams, spent last year as an assistant in Sacramento before going to the Clippers this year. As head coach Doc Rivers said Friday morning, the addition of Welch has been noticeable.
“It’s been great,” Rivers said. “He does a great job. He’s into it, he’s a strong guy, but he’s a great teacher.”
Johnson Out Again
As Rivers said would likely happen Wednesday, Wesley Johnson missed his fourth straight game Friday night with a left heel contusion.
“I think he’s coming along,” Rivers said. “When he did it, we didn’t know how long it was going to be. We thought it would be pretty quick, but it’s taken time. We just kind of keep rolling.”
Paul Pierce joined the backup rotation for the first time this year with Johnson out.
Diamond To D-League?
Rivers said the Clippers will most likely use the D-League for both of their rookies. For first-round pick Brice Johnson, the first order of business is getting him healthy from a preseason back injury.
As for second-round pick Diamond Stone, Rivers said they’ll likely send him to the D-League soon.
“Just to get him some run,” Rivers said. “He hasn’t been playing at all, and he needs to play basketball.”