Here’s the notebook I just filed:
For once, it wasn’t an injury that took down another player from the Clippers roster.
Monday afternoon, the club waived forward Paul Davis and recently-signed point guard Fred Jones, in an effort to create some roster flexibility before Wednesday, the date on which all players on the roster have their contracts guaranteed for the rest of the season.
After signing Jones last Sunday, the Clippers were at the maximum of 15 players, meaning all 15 contracts would’ve become guaranteed Wednesday. With a rapidly ballooning injury list –seven players are currently out with injuries — Clippers coach and general manager Mike Dunleavy said the club could not assume such risk.
“Had we not had all these injuries, we might’ve done nothing,” Dunleavy said. “But with all the guys out, we just figured this would put us in better position, buy us some time to figure out schedules and such.”
There is a chance one or both of the players waived Monday could be re-signed once they clear waivers on Wednesday afternoon. Of the two, a club source indicated Jones was most likely to return because of the team’s multitude of injuries in the back court.
Baron Davis (tailbone) did not travel with the team on Monday for its three-game road trip and could miss additional time after that. Rookie Mike Taylor (broken thumb) is out at least another six weeks. Jason Hart (elbow) is day-to-day, but doubtful for Tuesday’s game in Dallas.
Jones hurt his right foot in Sunday’s loss to Detroit and was expected to miss a week-10 days, though he said Monday after practice –but before he was waived — that he was going to try and play through the pain.
“Everybody sways on the caution side, but me right now, I feel like I’m one of those old school players that you know you put some ice on it and do what you need to do,” he said. “This is a job I love. Basketball is not just a job to me. I love this. Even when I was at home, I’d sit on the couch and watch games and study games. This is my first love.”
Losing Davis was a bit of a surprise. Davis was the team’s second-round draft choice (34th overall) in the 2006 NBA Draft. While the team remained high on him, Dunleavy said that the rash of injuries necessitated that it create some flexibility on the roster. And Davis, whose contract was not guaranteed until Wednesday, was waived.
“We like Paul, we liked his effort,” Dunleavy said. “We still have interest in him.”
The club could’ve waited until after Tuesday’s game in Dallas to make the cuts, but preferred, out of courtesy, not to bring both players on the trip and then cut them after Tuesday’s game. It also allowed the team to see which other players get waived before Wednesday’s deadline and decide the best course of action.
An hour after waiving Davis and Jones, the club traded a conditional draft pick in the 2015 draft for Denver center Cheikh Samb and cash considerations.
The Nuggets will pay the remaining $418,000 of Samb’s contract this season, meaning the Clippers essentially get a free look at a 7-foot-1 player with good shot-blocking ability and shooting touch.
Samb, 24, was originally drafted by the Lakers in 2006 (51st overall). He was traded to the Pistons, where he appeared in four games. In November, he was sent to the Nuggets as part of the Chauncey Billups-Allen Iverson trade.
Samb has played in six games with the Nuggets before being assigned to the Colorado 14ers of the NBA Development League on Dec. 10. Since then, he’s averaged 12.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.8 blocks in 10 games.
UPDATE: A couple of people have e-mailed about my listing of Wednesday as the deadline contracts become guaranteed. I probably should’ve been more precise. Contracts become guaranteed on Friday. But in order to clear waivers by Friday, a player must be waived by noon (Pacific) on Wednesday. Essentially then, decisions on who stays and who goes must be made by noon on Wednesday. Sorry if there was any confusion, I could’ve been more precise.
The Clippers decided to make their decisions Monday because it’s just not kosher to bring a guy on a road trip and waive him a day into it, then put him on a plane ride home. The Heat did the same thing later in the day when it waived Shaun Livingston before it left town on a seven-game road trip.
They also did it because it allows Fred Jones and Paul Davis to clear waivers by Wednesday afternoon, meaning one or both could be re-signed after that and theoretically back in uniform by the end of the trip.
Just from my own reckoning, that makes a bit more sense since Jones had a foot injury he was nursing. He said Monday he’d try to play through it in Tuesday’s game against Dallas, but it certainly couldn’t hurt to give him a few days to heal up, if indeed the club decides to re-sign him.