Clippers sign forward Malik Fitts to 10-day contract

The LA Clippers have signed forward Malik Fitts to a 10-day contract.

Fitts, 23, appeared in 14 games for the Agua Caliente Clippers this season, averaging 11.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists. A training camp invitee this season, Fitts appeared in two preseason games for the Clippers.

Fitts played two collegiate seasons at Saint Mary’s, where he appeared in 68 games and averaged 15.9 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 47.3 percent from the field. Prior to transferring to Saint Mary’s, the 6-foot-8 forward played his first college season at South Florida, where he appeared in 27 games and averaged 7.4 points and 4.6 rebounds. A native of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Fitts was named to the 2019-20 All-WCC First Team and the 2018-19 All-WCC Second Team.

Clippers sign DeMarcus Cousins to 10-day contract

The LA Clippers have signed center DeMarcus Cousins to a 10-day contract.

Cousins, 30, holds career averages of 20.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 590 appearances with the Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. The 6-foot-10 center is one of 11 players in NBA history to average at least 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Originally the fifth overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft, Cousins is a four-time All-Star, a two-time All-NBA Second Team member, and an Olympic Gold Medalist with Team USA.

A native of Mobile, Ala., Cousins appeared in 25 games for the Rockets this season and averaged 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 20.2 minutes.

Lakers plan to allow limited fan attendance at home games starting April 15 vs. Celtics

STATEMENT FROM THE LAKERS

We are incredibly excited that the State of California announced guidelines [yesterday] that will allow Lakers fans to return to STAPLES Center.

Now that we have the guidance, we will work with LA County Public Health and STAPLES Center to finalize our plans to have fans safely attend our games starting with the Lakers vs. Celtics game on April 15.

We look forward to welcoming Lakers fans back to STAPLES Center to continue the journey with us to defend our NBA title.

Clippers plan to allow limited fan attendance at home games starting April 18 vs. Timberwolves

STATEMENT FROM THE CLIPPERS

With the State of California announcing that Los Angeles County has moved into the orange tier, we will continue working closely with the L.A. County Department of Public Health and STAPLES Center to determine the guidelines for safely hosting fans at Clippers home games this season.

With the new guidelines in place, we are planning for a certain number of fans to attend our game against Minnesota on April 18.

Clippers playing well lately, riding six-game winning streak

The Clippers are on a six-game winning streak, and playing much better basketball these days than they were early in the season. Via the LA Times:

There are myriad ways to measure the differences between now and a five-week stretch starting in mid-February in which the Clippers scuffled to a 5-8 record.

In those five weeks the Clippers’ offensive rating of 111.6 ranked 16th, their 113.8 defensive rating ranked 23rd and their rebounding rate ranked 12th.

Since the winning streak began March 20, the Clippers’ offensive rating of 126 points per 100 possessions leads the league by a mammoth seven-point gap — the same margin that separates teams ranked two through 11.

Their defensive rating of 106.1 ranks seventh. Their rebounding percentage ranks third. Their average margin of victory is 17.6 points. They are turning the ball over the third-fewest percentage of possessions, as well.

The Clippers are now 32-16 this season, which is the third best record in the Western conference.

Their leading scorers so far in 2020-21 are Kawhi Leonard at 25.9 points per game, Paul George at 22.5 ppg, and Marcus Morris at 12.7 ppg.

Hawks trade Rajon Rondo to Clippers for Lou Williams and draft picks

The Atlanta Hawks have acquired guard Lou Williams, along with two second-round picks (Portland 2023, LAC 2027) and cash considerations in a trade with the LA Clippers for guard Rajon Rondo.

“Lou is arguably the greatest sixth man to ever play the game, and he represented much more than that as a Clipper,” said Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank. “He is a leader and a connector, earning the highest level of respect from teammates and opponents alike. He lifted all of us. We will miss Lou and his family dearly.”

Williams, a native of Snellville, GA, previously played for the Hawks from 2012-14.

“Being able to acquire a respected veteran in Lou Williams, one of the best scorers and playmakers off the bench in league history, and two second-round picks accomplished a couple of the goals we had,” said Hawks President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Travis Schlenk. “We are excited to see what Lou can add to our second unit as we try to finish this season strong.”

Williams has appeared in 42 games (three starts) this season for the Clippers, averaging 12.1 points, 3.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 21.9 minutes (.421 FG%, .378 3FG%, .866 FT%). In 1,043 career games (121 starts) with Philadelphia, Atlanta, Toronto, the LA Lakers, Houston and the LA Clippers, the 15-year veteran has career averages of 14.4 points, 3.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 24.7 minutes (.420 FG%, .350 3FG%, .841 FT%).

Last season, he put in 18.2 points, 5.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 65 games, ranking fourth in the NBA in bench scoring (17.4 ppg), leading the league in most games with at least 20 points and five assists off the bench (18).

Originally selected in the second round (45th overall) of the 2005 NBA Draft by the 76ers, Williams is a three-time winner of the NBA’s Sixth Man Award (2015, 2018, 2019). Among all active players, he ranks 13th in points (15,000), seventh in games played (1,043), 17th in three-pointers made (1,396) and assists (3,603), ninth in free throws made (3,928) and 21st in free-throw percentage (.840). Williams is the only player since 1970-71 (when starters were first tracked) to have at least 15,000 career points with less than 400 games as a starter.

Rondo is a two-time NBA champion, four-time All-Star, and two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member. He has played with Boston, Dallas, Sacramento, Chicago, New Orleans, the Lakers, and Atlanta. In 900 regular-season games (731 starts), he’s averaged 10.0 points, 8.1 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.6 steals in 30.6 minutes. He has also led the league in assists three times and steals once. Among active players, Rondo ranks fourth in assists (7,310 at 15th overall in NBA history) and sixth in steals (1,470).

“We could not be more excited to welcome Rajon to the Clippers,” said Frank. “He is a proven winner, a relentless competitor, and one of the most skilled orchestrators of his era. We believe he will elevate our group and continue to propel us forward.”

Clippers trade Mfiondu Kabengele to Kings

The LA Clippers have traded forward/center Mfiondu Kabengele, a conditional future second-round draft pick and cash considerations to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for a conditional future second-round draft pick, announced Lawrence Frank, Clippers president of basketball operations.

Kabengele, 23, has appeared in 23 games for the Clippers this season and averaged 1.2 points in 4.1 minutes.

Kabengele, listed at 6-foot-9, made 35 career appearances across two NBA seasons with the Clippers and holds career averages of 2.0 points in 4.5 minutes.

The 27th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Kabengele played two collegiate seasons at Florida State, earning the 2018-19 ACC Sixth Man of the Year award and 2019 All-ACC Tournament First Team honors.

The Kings roster now stands at 17 players.

Lakers legend Elgin Baylor has passed away at age 86

Former Lakers player and Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor passed away peacefully of natural causes today in Los Angeles at the age of 86. Baylor was surrounded by his wife, Elaine, and his daughter, Krystal.

“Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” said Elaine. “And like everyone else, I was in awe of his immense courage, dignity and the time he gave to all fans. At this time we ask that I and our family be allowed to mourn his passing in privacy.”

Born on Sept. 16, 1934, in Washington, D.C., Baylor played one season at the College of Idaho before transferring to Seattle University, where he led the team to their first NCAA championship game before being drafted first overall by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958. Baylor averaged 24.9 points, 15.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists as a rookie en route to Rookie of the Year honors. Baylor would go on to play 14 seasons for the Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers, earning NBA All-Star honors 11 times with 10 First Team All-NBA appearances. After retiring from basketball in 1971, Baylor went on to serve as a coach for the New Orleans Jazz and Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Clippers.

“Elgin was THE superstar of his era – his many accolades speak to that,” said Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss. “He was one of the few Lakers players whose career spanned from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. But more importantly he was a man of great integrity, even serving his country as a U.S. Army reservist, often playing for the Lakers only during his weekend pass. He is one of the all-time Lakers greats with his No. 22 jersey retired in the rafters and his statue standing guard in front of STAPLES Center. He will always be part of the Lakers legacy. On behalf of the entire Lakers family, I’d like to send my thoughts, prayers and condolences to Elaine and the Baylor family.”

Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977, Baylor’s No. 22 jersey was retired by the Lakers on Nov. 3, 1983, and a statue honoring Baylor was unveiled on April 6, 2018, at STAPLES Center.

Elgin is survived by his wife Elaine, a daughter (Krystal), a son and daughter (Alan and Alison) from a previous marriage, and a sister (Gladys Baylor Barrett).

Funeral arrangements are pending.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued the following statement today regarding the passing of Elgin Baylor:

“Elgin Baylor set the course for the modern NBA as one of the league’s first superstar players. An 11-time All-Star during his Hall of Fame career with the Lakers, Elgin produced remarkable results with his athleticism and groundbreaking style of play, including setting an NBA Finals record with 61 points in Game 5 of the 1962 championship series – a performance made all the more extraordinary by the fact that he had spent part of that season away from his team while on active duty in the Army.

“In addition to his legendary playing career, Elgin was a man of principle. He was a leading activist during the height of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s and an influential voice among his fellow players. After his retirement, Elgin remained a part of the NBA family as both a coach and an executive, imparting his wisdom to generations of NBA talent. Elgin will be deeply missed, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his wife, Elaine, his family and friends.”

National Basketball Players Association Statement on the Passing of Elgin Baylor

“It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the recent passing of Hall Famer Elgin Baylor. Elgin’s success as a player, coach and executive in this league was unparalleled. He had a profound impact on the game of basketball and the generations of players that followed him.

During his playing career, Elgin was a strong voice for the collective group, standing up to push for guaranteed benefits and improved working conditions for all players. Elgin’s early advocacy played a vital role in the formation of our union and we are forever grateful for his courage and contributions.

We send our prayers and condolences to his wife Elaine, his family and the entire Lakers organization.”

Kawhi Leonard named starter for 2021 NBA All-Star Game

The NBA today announced today that LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard has been selected by fans, players and media members as a Western Conference starter in the 70th NBA All-Star Game, which will be held at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Sunday, March 7th at 5 p.m. PST on TNT.

Leonard will make his fifth career All-Star appearance (2020, 2019, 2017, 2016), being named a starter each time. Leonard was named the 2020 NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP, scoring 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting in a 157-155 victory.

In his 10th NBA season, Leonard is averaging career highs in assists (5.0), 3P% (38.9), and minutes played (34.4). The 6-foot-7 forward currently ranks first in the NBA in offensive rating (122.0), second in steals per game (1.8), and ninth in points per game (26.7). Leonard is also one of two players in the NBA this season to average at least 26 points, five rebounds, five assists, and one-and-a-half steals.

Leonard has scored 30 points or more in eight games this season and 20 points or more in his last 11 games. On February 2 against Brooklyn, he became the second player in franchise history and the first since 1975 to record at least 33 points, five assists, four steals and two blocked shots in a single game. On January 24 against Oklahoma City, Leonard became only the fourth NBA player since 2000 to record at least 34 points, nine rebounds and eight assists with no turnovers. He has scored 30 points or more with no turnovers in four games this season, a league high.

A two-time Defensive Player of the Year (2016, 2015) and two-time Finals MVP (2019, 2014), Leonard holds career averages of 19.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals. The Moreno Valley, Calif., native has twice been voted All-NBA First Team (2017, 2016) and All-NBA Second Team (2020, 2019), as well as All-Defensive First Team (2017, 2016, 2015) and All-Defensive Second Team three times (2020, 2019, 2014).

The NBA All-Star Game team rosters will be drafted by two captains, who will choose from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference, making their selections regardless of conference affiliation. The captains will be the All-Star starters who receive the most fan votes in their respective conference.

Patrick Beverley returns to action for Clippers

The Clippers have their scrappy, defensive-minded point guard back. Via the OC Register:

“Super-fired up!” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said before Wednesday’s game in Minneapolis, where Beverley made his return to action after missing eight games with right knee soreness. “That’s what me and the coaches were just talking about – he’s excited to be back, and we’re happy to have him.”

Beverley started in his return Wednesday, joining a lineup that was short superstar Paul George (bone edema right toe) but still featured Reggie Jackson, who’d been starting in Beverley’s place.

Following four days of pain-free on-court workouts, Beverley was cleared to play Wednesday, said Lue, who noted that the 32-year-old would be on a minutes limit, the specifics of which he declined to detail.

Without Beverley these past couple of weeks, the Clippers went 4-4 and their defensive rating in that span slipped to 112.2, a couple of ticks above what it was – 110.1 – before that.

The Clippers have one of the league’s best offenses this season, but have been merely average on defense. Getting Pat Bev back clearly should help there.