The Clips already have their starting lineup of Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Although A Tribe Called Bench looks different than last year, Clipper Nation should expect regular minutes for Darren Collison, Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford, with Ryan Hollins, Antawn Jamison, Louis Amundson and Byron Mullens backing up the frontline.
While the Clips are loaded in the backcourt, they are a bit thin in the middle, and could look for some extra relief. With four potential bigs backing up Jordan and Griffin, who might be the odd man out when it comes to getting consistent minutes?
We will look at three potential roster moves that coach Doc Rivers and Co. might consider prior to opening night.
Signing Jason Collins
Having been feverishly working out in his Los Angeles home all summer, Jason Collins might get a call from Clippers’ brass in the next few weeks.
At 34, Collins does not have the on-court value that he once had, but he is a specialist against opposing big men. Demand for such players has been limited as the NBA has transitioned away from back to the basket play. Nevertheless, a conference contender could use another big body.
Last postseason, Jordan and Griffin struggled to contain the Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Beyond Memphis’ burly big men, the Houston Rockets’ Dwight Howard, the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan and even the Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Bogut present challenges in the paint.
Collins could be the perfect extra body to spell Jordan against opposing big men. Collins’ brother Jarron is a Clippers’ scout, and his ties to the area could lead to a call from the Clips. A return to his native Los Angeles could be a great fit for the center.
Willie Green Falls Out of the Rotation Entirely
The starting shooting guard for much of last season, Willie Green found himself playing the role of placeholder for the often-injured Chauncey Billups.
Billups appeared in just 22 regular-season games last season, and Green was the beneficiary of Mr. Big Shot’s absence. Former head coach Vinny Del Negro trusted Green as a low-risk option alongside Paul. Moreover, Green’s consummate professionalism and veteran savvy was a compelling contrast to the high-flying theatrics of last season’s iteration of Lob City.
With a new coach in the fold, Green might find himself riding the pine for much of the season. Although Billups is now back on the Detroit Pistons, Green will find himself below both Redick and Crawford on the depth chart.
Rivers is unlikely to employ the hockey-like substitution patterns that Del Negro utilized, thus shortening the rotation in the process. Barring an injury, Green’s role on the team should be reduced.
Lou Amundson Breaks Into the Rotation
Big man Louis Amundson earned regular minutes playing under Alvin Gentry for the undermanned Phoenix Suns.
With career averages of 3.7 PPG and 3.6 RPG, Amundson does most of his damage outside of the box score. A solid team and individual defender, Amundson plays a physical style of basketball intent on frustrating his opponent.
Which big will earn the most minutes behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan?
What Amundson might compromise in talent he compensates for in effort and hustle. The 30-year-old UNLV product has a career average total rebound percentage of 16.0. Splitting time between the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Chicago Bulls and the New Orleans Hornets last season, Amundson finished with a 16.7 defensive rebound percentage. As a benchmark, the uber-athletic Jordan finished last season with a 17.6 defensive rebound percentage.
Amundson’s familiarity with Gentry’s offense will benefit him as he integrates into Lob City. Like Green, he is a low-risk option in the post who makes few mistakes and contributes effectively. With no big man enforcer on the roster, the Clippers will be looking for Amundson to take the role of someone like Reggie Evans or Kenyon Martin from the 2011-12 season.
Amundson is also the best backup big defender on the roster, a key step-up from offensive-savvy guys like Jamison or Mullens. The Clips should have a top-five offense this season, but Rivers has spent the majority of training camp integrating his defensive system.
Given the problems on defense presented by Jamison and Mullens, Amundson could catapult himself into Rivers' rotation.
All statistics used from Bsketball-Reference.com, NBA.com and ESPN.com.