Coach Doc Rivers said the Clippers will likely keep a roster spot open just in case they find another player who can help in some capacity.
“It’s nice to have the flexibility, it’s nice to look out there and see who’s out there and sometimes guys become available and sometimes they don’t,” Rivers said. “We did it almost every year in Boston and got lucky a couple of times, and sometimes it didn’t work. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the chance.”
During one All-Star weekend in New Orleans, Rivers grabbed a couple of Celtics and went to knock on the door at the home of P.J. Brown, who was not playing at the time. Brown eventually signed with the Celtics and hit a key shot in the playoffs during Boston’s championship run.
“He made the biggest shot in the playoffs,” Rivers said. “If somebody helps you win one game in the playoffs, they’re worth it.”
Rivers got to make a couple of discoveries during the Clippers’ seven-game road trip and one of his favorites was veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu, who joined the team just in time to leave for the trip.
“He’s playing great,” Rivers said. “I was even surprised in the first game by his ballhandling. Usually when you’ve missed the amount of games he’s missed, that’s the last thing that comes around because of the speed of the game. His passing — we run that 4-5 pick-and-roll, which is unorthodox — and he’s making passes that it looked like he’d been playing all along.”
Entering Wednesday’s game, Turkolgu was averaging 2.7 points and 3 rebounds in 12 minutes. But his presence has been felt by the Clippers off the court as well.
“The first game that he dressed, DJ came out and lost his mind over some play and before I got to him, Hedo ran out on the floor and grabbed him, told him he was wrong and let’s move on,” Rivers said. “I looked at them, and that’s a stranger talking to him right now.
“They listen because they know he’s been around. It’s easy for players to listen to each other when they have the right thing at heart. I think that makes a good team.”
On Thursday afternoon, the balance of the All-Star teams from both conferences will be announced to complement the five starters voted onto the team by fans.
The reserves are voted on by the respective conference coaches, and Clippers coach Doc Rivers admits he’s done his share of lobbying on behalf of center DeAndre Jordan.
Jordan leads the league in rebounding (13.9 per game) and shooting percentage (64.5) and is fourth in blocked shots.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a tough one, though, at the position,” Rivers said before the Clippers took on Washington Wednesday at Staples Center. “I got a great response but that’s why you go under a curtain when you’re stumping and they vote for real. ‘Yeah, I’m going to vote for him,’ then they yank that other lever.”
In other words, Rivers said he got a lot of positive feedback on Jordan but has no idea what to expect. And only seven reserves will be named to each side, though there has been rumbling about the league to increase the size of the rosters in the 30-team league.
“You don’t know, so I’m hoping,” Rivers said.
Forward Blake Griffin was voted onto the team. It also remains to be seen if Chris Paul will be among the reserves, but with the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant now apparently sidelined for the event, Paul appears to be a lock if his injured shoulder is healed in time.
Paul was last year’s game MVP.
The Clippers’ musical chair saga among backup guards continued Thursday.
Darius Morris was re-signed to a second 10-day contract and Maalik Wayns was waived for the second time in two weeks.
Morris has appeared in three games since his first signing on Jan. 6. Wayns, who missed the first 33 games of the season after undergoing surgery to repair torn meniscus in his knee, had appeared in two games.
It’s official: The Clippers signed veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu Thursday after doing enough to impress Coach Doc Rivers in a workout last week.
The 34-year-old Turkoglu last played for Orlando but hit a bump in his career last season when he was suspended for 20 games for testing positive for a banned substance.
Rivers said that signing Turkoglu doesn’t necessarily reflect the Clippers are signing players for a certain need other than finding the best players available.
“He’s another shooter,” Rivers said. “Sometimes you don’t bring in a guy because someone else is not doing something, you bring a guy in because he does something that our other guys do as well. He’s another shooter, he can space the floor, he’s very skilled and we’d like to take advantage of that.”
In his 13-year career, Turkolgu has averaged 11.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game and is a 38.2 percent 3-point shooter. He joins the team today in New York, where the Clippers start a seven-game road trip.
Before the game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle took time to marvel at Dirk Nowitzki, who’s avering 21.2 points and 5.8 rebounds in his 15 th NBA season.
“He’s just more skilled than everyone,” Rivers said. “It almost comes down to that with him. He’s 7 feet tall, he’s maybe the best shooter in the league if not top 5, still, and at that size, he’s very difficult to guard.
“As a staff, you’re sitting around, you concoct all these ways that don’t work to try to guard him. It’s amazing how many different ways I’ve seen him guarded.”
Carlisle was asked how Nowitzki has been able to return to form after missing the first 27 games last season due to knee surgery.
“Never underestimate greatness at any age,” Carlisle said. “And 35 ain’t that old. I’ve had a lot of guys, Reggie Miller playing when he was 39, his last game was a playoff game against Detroit and he had 26 points and he decided to call it quits. He could have easily played two or three more years.
“I’ve been lucky, I’ve had some guys that have been really terrific players – I had Reggie Miller, Ben Wallace became a great player in Detroit, (Chauncey) Billups was a great player and great clutch player, Jason Kidd played ’til he was 40 years old and Dirk’s the best of the best within that group, and they’re all tremendous.”
When Clippers coach Doc Rivers said the signing of veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu is imminent, he also admitted to revealing one of the league’s worst-kept secrets.
“How do you pronounce his name?,” Rivers asked with a smile. “Because I may have to get used to that.”
Turkoglu has apparently passed enough informal entry tests and is a phyusical exam away from signing. Rivers said that Turkoglu’s 20-game suspension for banned substances was among the topics that were covered in the vetting.
“It’s no concern now for me,” Rivers said of the suspension. “He’s going to do his physicals whenever we finally get all the stuff done but we do anticipate signing him. At least we hope. Nothing’s official til it’s official. I usually don’t say stuff but I think everyone pretty much knows.
“You always address (all issues) when you bring guys in and you talk to them. You talk to them about anything that’s happened in his past, not only just that, but he was in Orlando and didn’t play. Every guy you bring in, that’s nothing new.”
Rivers added that if he’s signed, Turkoglu would be available to join the club for their seven-game East Coast road trip that begins Friday in New York. He’s confident Turkoglu will fit in with the club.
“Yeah, you never know how (locker room chemistry) goes,” Rivers said. “I think with the veterans it usually goes pretty well. Veterans are pretty easy to fit in in the locker room. Young guys for the most part don’t know what to do in the locker room. I don’t really have a concern when you bring veterans in.”
Veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu worked out for the Clippers on Thursday, but Rivers said that no signing is imminent.
“It was good. He made shots from everywhere,” Rivers said. “He looked good, it was a good workout, but we’re not doing anything anytime soon. But he did look good.”
Rivers refused to comment on speculation the Clippers might make a bid to sign former Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who was traded by Cleveland to Chicago and then cut the next day.
“I won’t say. Playing poker right now,” Rivers said. “We’ve had internal discussions about everyone.
“We do talk about everyone. I like our team, though. I tread very cautiously with change.”
It turns out that J.J. Redick, back for the Clippers Friday night after missing 21 games, could have come back a game sooner.
Coach Doc Rivers seemed to wish he had given the green light to Redick to play on Wednesday against Boston, when the Clippers’ bench scored only 12 points (seven for Willie Green, five for Matt Barnes).
With Redick back in the starting lineup, Jamal Crawford and his 16.9-point scoring average can bolster the bench.
“He may have been able to play against Boston, but we went the extra practice with him,” Rivers said. “Honestly, the thing that convinced me . . . but the game the other night and the second unit’s inability to score, let’s get Jamal back in that group as soon as we can.”
Which is fine with Crawford.
“Yeah, you know me, I’m a team player,” Crawford said. “I’ve been Sixth Man (of the Year), I’m comfortable in that position, starting, as long as we’re winning I’m fine either way.”
Redick is finally healed after breaking a bone in his hand and partially tearing a ligament.
“You never know until the day of I guess, but Tuesday when I was able to go through the full practice I figured Friday would be a decent shot if I continued to progress,” Redick said. “There’s no pain. The only issue is just a little stiffness just from being casted for three weeks. I don’t feel things when I shoot or dribble or things like that. My extremes in terms of flexibility are the same as my left hand. I’m good to go. I wouldn’t be playing if I wasn’t.”
Chris Paul woke up Sunday morning and the healing had begun. Even if the hurt lingered.
“I’m cool,” he said Monday, three days after suffering a separated right shoulder. “It’s one of those situations where it could have been worse. I woke up yesterday and was done feeling sorry for myself. I’ve got to approach the rehab and get back as soon as I possibly can.”
Paul was injured in the third quarter in Dallas and an MRI revealed a grade 3 AC joint separation. The good news for Paul was that surgery won’t be required, but the Clippers said he will be out for as many as six weeks.
When he hit the floor and landed on his shoulder, Paul knew it wasn something he’d be able to shake off right away.
“I was mad, that’s why I slammed my mouthpiece,” Paul said before the Clippers tipped with Orlando at Staples Center. “I felt it when it happened, I could sort of hear it and I knew that it was pretty significant.
“The thing that made me mad too was I feel like as an athlete, you prepare and do everything possible to try to not get injured. That’s all that preparation, that strength training, stretching, everything. That was the most frustrating part.”
Paul is averaging 19.6 points and leading the league in assists with an 11.2 average per game.
What the Clippers might miiss most, however, is the hard-driving competitiveness he brings. The Clippers lost a bit of that earlier in the season when J.J. Redick went out with a broken wrist.
“Oh, you’re going to miss it. We miss J.J.,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “J.J.’s one of the more competitive guys on our team as well. Those are the intangibles people don’t see. Clearly we miss J.J.’s drive and his mean toughness, and now the other guy is Chris, and we’re not going to have that. Those are the intangibles beside the play when you lose a Chris Paul or J.J. Redick.”
On the court, the Clippers will make a go with Darren Collison and Jamal Crawford as the starting guards. Crawford has been starting for Redick, who is expected back within about two weeks.
Meanwhile,the Clippers’ bench, already crowded by perhaps the deepest coaching staff in the NBA, one more voice will be heard.
“I’m going to be there every game, sitting out there,” Paul said. “I couldn’t sit out there at San Antonio because I didn’t have a blazer because I wasn’t expecting to get hurt, but I’ll be there every game, every night cheering and talking to the guys, but also being respectful because it’s one of those things where it’s tough to be that voice and that leader when you are in a suit.”
Rivers had a chance to talk to Paul and the the coach quietly enjoyed the reaction Paul had.
“A lot of my friends and family reached out to me,” Paul said. “Everybody was like ‘Everything’s going to be all right, you’ll come back stronger and tougher. I’m one of those people like ‘Right now, it’s not all right,’ honestly, because I want to play and I feel like I need to play.
“You just want to be out there to help your team. Now it’s about doing everything possible day in and day out to get back. And I always say rehab is a lot harder than playing.”
Rivers said the MRI exam result was more of a relief that he didn’t lose his All-Star for longer. Then he went into coaching mode.
“The one thing I told him is we can’t get this injury back, it’s happened,” Rivers said. “Let’s try to look at this that it’s a blessing you’re going to have fresh great legs for the stretch run. That’s the only way you can look at it.”