The Los Angeles Clippers were the big winners of the NBA’s buyout season, adding two of the top players on the midseason free agent market in Danny Granger and Glen Davis. These are just the latest veterans that were drawn to Los Angeles this season, as the Clippers previously signed Hedo Turkoglu, Stephen Jackson and Sasha Vujacic earlier in the year (only Turkoglu remains on the roster).
The Clippers have become an attractive destination for free agents because the team is a star-studded contender with a top-tier head coach in a very large market. Granger and Davis – a former All-Star and an NBA champion – each received interest from a number of teams, but couldn’t turn down the chance to join the Clippers.
“You want to come here and play,” Davis told Clippers.com. “Because of the weather, the atmosphere, and what they’re trying to accomplish. But I’m playing for an NBA championship. I’m not here to do the Hollywood thing and be in movies and commercials. I don’t want that, I want another ring. That’s why I came here, that’s why I chose to come here. You don’t get any younger, you get older. And being my age, and being still in my prime, why not come here and play for something like that?”
“I’m very familiar with the way Doc [Rivers] coaches,” Granger told the team’s website. “And I think you always have a desire to play with a point guard the caliber of Chris Paul. And I think in the West it’s a really tight race out here and I just thought I would be able to help this team the most.”
The Clippers were already a very talented and deep team before they inked Granger and Davis to contracts. L.A. is currently 40-20, which puts them in the fourth seed in the Western Conference.
Now, they’re even more stacked and Rivers has countless lineups that he can tinker with going forward. Both players were bought out by Eastern Conference bottom feeders (Granger by the Philadelphia 76ers and Davis by the Orlando Magic) and now they’re excited to get a fresh start on a team that could make a deep postseason run.
“I’ve always made the playoffs in my career and not playing for something was crazy,” Davis said. “Being on this team is some fresh energy, knowing that you can help a team win a championship is important. It feels good.”
“It’s still kind of surreal honestly,” Granger said. “I’ve been in Indiana my whole career. I’ve always seen ‘Granger 33’ with Pacers on top of it. So, it’s going to be a change, but I’ll be happy. … [Their] offense isn’t very structured and when you have that freedom you can really thrive. The last time I played in an offense like that was probably three or four years ago where it’s up and down, you throw it ahead, you can attack the rim, you have lobs because you’re spacing the floor. When you have Blake [Griffin] and DeAndre Jordan you just throw it by the rim. It’s a really unique way to play and a lot of fun.”
Both players believe they have a unique skill set to offer the Clippers that will help the team in the long run.
“I think I bring another dynamic,” Granger said. “I’m a bigger small forward. I can play the four as well. And I can shoot the ball and when you add that to the type of offense that we have: up-tempo, shoot a lot of threes, go out and space the court. That’s the kind of offense that I think I would thrive in.”
“What Doc wants is for you to play hard and play the right way, give yourself up for the next guy,” Davis said. “That was embedded in my brain as a rookie and my four years playing with him. That’s just a part of my game. The think he noticed it and asked me to come along.”
The current Clippers are thrilled with the additions, because it’s clear that the team is bolstering the roster for a title run.
“It changes the team,” Griffin said of adding Granger and Davis. “But we [will] just try to do a good job of meshing them in and getting them in the mix as fast as possible.”
“I think at the end of the day with our team we understand that it’s all about winning games,” Paul said. “We’ve dealt with injuries and things like that. Depth, especially at this point in the season, is very crucial. When I was out, [Darren Collison] stepped into a starting role and was amazing. When I came back, we still kept that dialog. Out here it can’t be personal; it has to be all about winning games.”
The question is, how much can Granger and Davis help the Clippers?
Prior to being traded and bought out, Granger was averaging 8.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 22.5 minutes with the Pacers. The veteran small forward was playing a reduced role as he bounced back from injury. While his 2013-14 numbers don’t jump off the page, it was just two years ago that Granger was Indiana’s leading scorer and one of the better small forwards in the game. While he won’t be asked to be a focal point in L.A., the 30-year-old should be able to produce off of the bench in spurts. There’s a reason why every contender in the league was pursuing Granger in recent days.
While Davis doesn’t quite have Granger’s name recognition or All-Star credentials, he could actually end up being the better pickup. Davis is in the prime of his career at 28 years old and he has played well this year, averaging 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds prior to being bought out. He’s had a number of big games this season, including a 33-point game in early December and three 20-point games. And that was Davis “not playing for something,” as he said several paragraphs above. The last time he did have something to play for, in the Magic’s last postseason appearance in 2012, he averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks versus the Pacers and was a big reason Orlando was able to steal a game despite playing without Dwight Howard. There’s no question that he can still play at a high level, and the fact that he’s comfortable with Rivers’ system and knows exactly what the coach wants from him off the bench should help him thrive. Davis played under Rivers for four years on the Boston Celtics, and the duo won a ring together in 2008. Davis is going to play a significant role for the Clippers, who traded Byron Mullens and Antawn Jamison at the deadline. That opened up minutes at the four and five, and Davis and Ryan Hollins are the only reserve big men on L.A.’s roster.
Before these additions, it seemed that the Clippers were poised to make some noise in the playoffs. Now, after adding Granger and Davis to an already talented squad, anything less than a deep postseason run will be considered a disappointment in L.A.
Colangelo Admits That Raptors Tanked
During a recent panel at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, former Toronto Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo admitted that he tried to tank down the stretch of the 2011-12 season. The Raptors finished 23-43 that season and landed the eighth overall pick in the draft, which was used to select Terrence Ross.
Colangelo said that he’s in favor of a proposal that would replace the draft lottery altogether, for a system that doesn’t create an incentive losing. One such proposal was a wheel that determines where teams will draft for the next 30 years.
“I like (the proposal) because there’s no assurances (of getting a good pick) when you do tank,” Colangelo said, according to USA TODAY Sports. “Admittedly, I will say, I tried to tank a couple years ago. And I didn’t ‘come out and say, ‘Coach (Dwane Casey), you’ve got to lose games.’ I never said that. I wanted to have him establish a winning tradition and a culture and all of that, but I wanted to do it in the framework of playing and developing young players, and with that comes losing. There’s just no way to avoid that, but I never once said, ‘You’ve got to lose this game.’
“Just one less loss (that season) would have put us in a coin toss for Damian Lillard potentially (he was taken sixth), and that was a need that we had on our team that year, a point guard need. So it would have kind of taken us on a whole different route in this rebuilding process, and of course if we had lost a lot more games we would have had better odds to get Anthony Davis, the big prize that year. We’re looking at it, and it didn’t work out. … There’s no assurances (in the lottery). I do like the certainty of the (proposed) process. I think there are some merits to obviously take it to the next extent, except I wish we could start it sooner because there really is some ugly basketball being played.”
It’s not a surprise that the Raptors tanked. What’s surprising is that Colangelo decided to admit it and talk openly about it. Executives usually keep that kind of things to themselves. You have to love Colangelo’s honesty.
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