The 2019 trade deadline was the busiest in NBA history. A total of 56 players moved teams in 20 deals across the league, with 26 out of 30 teams getting in on the action. The Clippers, in the midst of a season-long six-game road trip, were as active as anyone.
By Thursday’s deadline, they had acquired five new players and traded or waived six others in a 36-hour span, creating quite the logistical challenge for a basketball operations staff that works tirelessly to keep things running smoothly at all times.
In partnership with OGIO, our supplier of high-performance travel gear, we’re giving an inside look at the L.A. Clippers’ trade deadline experience.
Director of Team Operations Max Reza’s crew springs into action as Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline passes. The goal is to outfit all five new players with the standard gear package (including hoodies, tees, shorts and team-issued OGIO luggage) upon arrival in Boston. This trade deadline was tricky because it fell in the middle of the annual Grammy trip, but the equipment crew didn’t miss a beat: JP Cadena (Team Operations Assistant) and Gus Garza (Basketball Facilities Assistant) overnighted everything from Los Angeles for Friday morning delivery in Boston, so Reza was able to have OGIO bags waiting in their rooms before their first team meeting. It also falls on Reza to coordinate jersey numbers for the new players, which can be a challenge, but he says this year’s group made that task pain-free: “It could’ve been dumb luck, but all five of our new players got the number they wanted.”
The dust begins to settle on Saturday morning as the team comes together for breakfast at their Boston hotel. Doc Rivers takes a moment to welcome his new players before shootaround, reflecting on the three times he was traded as a player. At one table, rookies Landry Shamet and Jerome Robinson, two of the top scoring prospects from the 2018 Draft, get to know each other before taking the court together for the first time later that night.
Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green were with the Memphis Grizzlies in Oklahoma City when they found out they’d been traded. It was a quick up-and-back, so naturally they had packed light, leaving the veterans drip-less for the remaining two games on the Clippers’ road trip.
It would be hard to imagine anyone making a more seamless post-trade transition than Ivica Zubac, who joined the Clippers in exchange for Mike Muscala just one day after Muscala was part of the return for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott. The Lakers were already in Boston to play the Celtics on Thursday, so the 21-year-old center got to stay in the same hotel room as he waited for his new team. This made life easier on the operations crew, which was able to grab Zubac’s equipment from the Lakers’ staff at the hotel, and drop off Muscala’s, which had already arrived from the 76ers.
The Clippers had already overcome two 20-plus-point deficits on this trip, and the new group found itself in another hole as they trailed the Celtics by 28. Then something clicked, according to head coach Doc Rivers, en route to an improbable 123-112 victory: “At halftime I told the guys, ‘Everyone’s playing uptight… Stop trying to impress each other, get out of each other’s way and just start playing.’”
Zubac (12 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks) and Shamet (17 points) earned TV time with their strong first impressions. After the game, Rivers shared praise for his two newest young players: “Zubac can really play, and Shamet’s gonna be huge for us.”
After 10 nights on the road, the Clippers will fly back to Southern California following Monday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Manager of Team Operations Kyle Rohde orchestrates one final “bag pull” as the team prepares to depart the hotel in Minneapolis.
The Clippers were the fifth-oldest team in the NBA before their massive roster shakeup, but they got an infusion of youth after dealing away four veterans and waiving two more. Shamet, 21, is now one of nine players 25 and under. But for all his energy on the court, the rookie is ready for bed as the team lands in L.A. around 1:30 a.m.
OGIO is proud to serve as the team’s supplier of high performance travel gear throughout the NBA season and offseason. For more information on OGIO or to shop products, click here.