Branden Dawson talks about what Clippers fans can expect from him

Branden  Dawson

Branden Dawson/Photo courtesy of Michigan State


Branden Dawson, who was picked 56th in the recent NBA Draft, was asked at a recent news conference what Clippers fans can expect to see from him in the upcoming season.

The 6-foot-6, 225-pound forward was not shy in his response.

“I’ll say definitely my energy, my toughness, and I’m just a team player,” Dawson said. “I come from Michigan State. Always been competitive, playing with (coach) Tom Izzo, it’s something that he instilled in me, just being competitive, playing with energy and I’m going to do whatever it takes.

“I love to win and I like being around a good group of guys. And I’m willing to do anything, so I’m excited.”

Dawson averaged 10.3 rebounds in the recently concluded Orlando Summer League, second only to the 11.7 averaged by Aaron Gordon of Orlando Blue.


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Cole Aldrich stoked to be with Clippers after escape from New York

Cole Aldrich

Cole Aldrich/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


You have to wonder who might have been the happiest guy in the room Tuesday when the Clippers hosted a news conference at Staples Center to re-introduce DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers to L.A. reporters, as well as introduce newcomers Paul Pierce, Wesley Johnson, Josh Smith, Branden Dawson and Cole Aldrich.

Well, since Jordan just signed a four-year contract worth an estimated $88 to stay with the Clippers, he was probably the most stoked in a room that also included coach Doc Rivers. But Aldrich was, perhaps, almost as thrilled because he went from the rebuilding New York York Knicks to the contending Clippers in a New York minute.

“I love it,” said Aldrich, a 6-foot-11 post who will back up Jordan. “You know, going from New York last year, where we struggled, to being on a contending team, it’s going to be awesome. You’ve got a bunch of guys that are going to come in every day and work hard and have fun doing it.”

Aldrich, 26, played his college ball at Kansas. He has career scoring and rebounding averages of 3.1 and 3.4. But he’s coming off his best season, in which he averaged 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds as well as 1.1 blocks.

Aldrich signed a two-year contract with a player option for the second season. He is slated to make the veterans’ minimum this coming season, which for him is $1,100,602.

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Wesley Johnson may have changed teams, but he’s still in the West

Wesley Johnson

Wesley Johnson/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Lakers


Wesley Johnson recently moved down the hall to sign with the Clippers. He may have changed teams, but he’s still in the ultra-tough Western Conference.

“It’s tough,” said Johnson, who played the past two seasons with the Lakers. “Everybody can see that. Night in, night out, the teams you go up against, it’s a battle. So definitely with the people we added to the team and me coming along, I think we’re able to compete every night with them and stand toe to toe with anybody. But night in, night out, the West it’s a tough conference.”

Johnson averaged 9.9 points this past season for the Lakers.

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Clippers agree to terms with guard Pablo Prigioni on 1-year deal

Although no contract has been signed, the Clippers have come to terms on a 1-year agreement with guard Pablo Prigioni, a league source has confirmed.

Prigioni, out of Argentina, would be paid the veterans’ minimum, which in his case is $981,348. Prigioni, 38, has played three seasons in the NBA. He played two-plus seasons with the New York Knicks before being traded to the Houston Rockets in February.

Prigioni has a career scoring average of 3.8 points. He’s also averaged 3.0 assists.

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Doc Rivers has an idea how his rotation might go, but he’s not saying

Los Angeles Clippers press conference to announce new and returning players Tuesday July 21, 2015 at Staples Center. Players from left holding jerseys are Branden Dawson, Deandre Jordan, Austin Rivers, Josh Smith, Cole Aldrich, Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson.  Photo By  Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

Clippers coach Doc Rivers poses with five new players and DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers at Tuesday’s news conference/Staff photo by Robert Casillas


It was Tuesday, about 12:30 p.m., and Doc Rivers had just finished playing host to a news conference at Staples Center. He was there to re-introduce DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers (Doc’s son), as well as five new players, to the Los Angeles media. The five included forwards Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Wesley Johnson and Branden Dawson and center Cole Aldrich; Dawson was picked No. 56 in the June draft, the other four were signed as free agents.

The question now is, what’s the lineup and the overall rotation going to look like?

“I have an idea,” said Doc Rivers, who will be entering this third season as head coach.

With small forward Matt Barnes now gone via a trade, will Pierce start in his spot? Perhaps it will be Smith. Or Lance Stephenson, who earlier this off-season was introduced after coming over in the trade with the Charlotte Hornets for Barnes and Spencer Hawes.

Doc Rivers wouldn’t say.

“I want to make them play,” he said.

In other words, there will be a fight for that spot, as well as for playing time in general.

At 37, Pierce may be better suited to come off the bench. And since Stephenson could be used at three different positions – guard, point guard and small forward – he might be more useful as a reserve as well. That would seem to leave Smith with the best shot at starting at small forward. Smith, who can play power forward as well, could spell Blake Griffin at that spot, too.

This is not to discount Johnson, who played the past two seasons with the Lakers. He can play both small forward and shooting guard.

The obvious starters at this moment are J.J. Redick and Chris Paul at the guard spots, Jordan at center and Griffin at power forward.

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DeAndre Jordan talks about his alleged discord with Chris Paul

DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


A beef with teammate Chris Paul was supposedly one reason why DeAndre Jordan initially accepted a deal to leave the Clippers and sign with the Dallas Mavericks. Jordan on Tuesday was asked about that when he and several other Clippers played host to a news conference at Staples Center.

“I love Chris,” said Jordan, who changed his mind and re-signed with the Clippers. “When Chris got here he changed the culture of our team. He helped me out in so many ways on and off the floor, just becoming a better player and a student of the game. I know it maybe looked that way on the floor because we were both emotional and vocal players. But when it comes down to it, we’re all criticizing each other because we want what’s best for the team.

“And I just feel like when you do butt heads on the floor, 30 seconds later it’s over because we’re all trying to win a basketball game. And I think that we let facial expressions and outside stories dictate what we believe. But Chris is like a big brother to me and other guys on this team.”

Paul allegedly was unhappy that the poor free-throw shooting Jordan did not spend enough time working on that part of his game.

Jordan has spent all seven seasons of his career with the Clippers. He signed on for four more at a total of roughly $88 million.

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The decision for Austin Rivers to re-sign with Clippers was not difficult

Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


When guard Austin Rivers first came to the Clippers this past season to play for his father, coach Doc Rivers, there was no shortage of reporters who wondered how it was going to work out. After all, it was the first time in NBA history a player was to toil for his head-coach pops.

By recently signing a two-year contract to remain with the Clippers for about $6.4 million, the younger Rivers put to rest any notion that a situation like this couldn’t work. Austin Rivers on Tuesday talked about what it was like when he first arrived in mid-January after being traded to the Clippers

“It was definitely challenging at first, just because I knew what I’d have to deal with just coming here and what it would look like for me, and also just the questions of how could a father-and-son relationship work on a professional level,” he said. “And I took that chance. It was a chance that I needed to take for myself because I honestly believed that if I came here, not only would I start to play the way I knew I could play, but also helps this team in an area where they needed help.”

The Clippers didn’t have much flexibility to sign players to long-term deals, but for now, the two-year accord Rivers signed just over a week ago was fine.

“Right now I signed a two-year deal because I want to come here and help this team win,” he said at a news conference Tuesday at Staples Center; joining Rivers were his father and teammates DeAndre Jordan, Paul Pierce, Cole Aldrich, Wesley Johnson, Josh Smith and Branden Dawson. “And that’s my focus right now. And I believe we can do so, so it really made my decision very, very easy to come back and really maybe not even try to venture out and see what else is out there because I wanted to be here.”

Rivers averaged 7.1 points and 1.7 assists in 41 regular-season games with the Clippers this past season. He averaged 8.4 points in the playoffs and had a couple of very big games.

Rivers won’t be 23 until Aug. 1.


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Clippers, forward Josh Smith have come to terms on 1-year contract

Josh Smith

Josh Smith/Photo courtesy of Houston Rockets


The Los Angeles Clippers had to have hated what Josh Smith did to them in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals. He scored 14 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to help the Houston Rockets overcome what had been a 19-point late-third-quarter deficit to shock the Clippers 119-107 at Staples Center. The Rockets ended up winning the series 4-3 with a Game 7 win at Houston.

But the Clippers were so impressed with Smith’s performance that Thursday they had agreed to bring him on board. A league source told this newspaper the accord was on the verge of being signed, and would be by the end of Thursday.

The deal is for one year for the veterans’ minimum, which in Smith’s case is just about $1.5 million.

Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward, played 55 games for Houston after being waived by Detroit in December. He averaged 12 points and six rebounds for the Rockets after averaging 13.1 points and 7.2 rebounds in 28 games for the Pistons.

Smith, 29, started eight of Houston’s 17 playoff games and averaged 13.5 points and 5.6 rebounds. He made 38 percent (27 of 71) of his shots from 3-point range.

Smith has 11 years in the league with career scoring and rebounding averages of 15.1 and 7.7, respectively. His best season was in 2011-12 with Atlanta, when he averaged 18.8 points and 9.6 rebounds.

The Clippers this off-season have now re-signed center DeAndre Jordan and guard Austin Rivers, signed free agents Smith, small forwards Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson and center Cole Aldrich; and traded for wing Lance Stephenson.

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Chris Paul to represent Team World in NBA game in August in South Africa

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


Chris Paul will play on Team World when it takes on Team Africa on Aug. 1 at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Team Africa will consist of players born in Africa and second-generation African players. The team is to be coached by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Among the players on that team will be Luc Mbah a Moute of the Sacramento Kings, Serge Ibaka of Oklahoma City and Festus Ezeli of Golden State.

Among those to play with Paul on Team World are brothers Marc and Pau Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies and Chicago Bulls, respectively. Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins will coach Team World.

“I look forward to representing Team World in the first NBA game in Africa,” Paul said in a statement.  “It will be my first visit to the continent, and I cannot wait to contribute to the growth of the game on and off the court.”

The proceeds will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs in South Africa, SOS Children’s Villages Association of South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

ESPN will televise the game live at 6 a.m. (PT).

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Clippers announce they have waived guard Lester Hudson

Lester Hudson

Lester Hudson/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


The Clippers on Wednesday announced they have waived guard Lester Hudson.

Hudson, who had been a star in the Chinese Basketball Association the past two seasons, came to the Clippers near the end of March. He played in five regular-season games, averaging 3.6 points and an assist. He appeared in seven of the 14 playoff games and averaged 2.0 points and an assist.

Hudson, 30, played his college ball at University of Tennessee at Martin.

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