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Clippers sign rookie Brice Johnson

Clippers sign rookie Brice Johnson

The Clippers have signed rookie forward Brice Johnson.

All players selected in the first round of the draft are guaranteed to receive a contract, assuming they want to begin their NBA career right away. So, this signing is standard and was expected.

Johnson, selected with the 25th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, was a consensus First Team All-American at the University of North Carolina his senior season. The 6-foot-10 inch Johnson averaged 17.0 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 40 games (all starts), helping lead the Tar Heels to the NCAA National Championship Game. He led the ACC and was fifth in the nation with a UNC-record 23 double-doubles. Johnson had career averages of 11.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 148 career games (80 starts) in his four years in Chapel Hill.

The South Carolina native averaged 15.4 points and 6.8 rebounds for the Clippers Summer League team in Orlando over five games.

Clippers sign Marreese Speights

Clippers sign Marreese Speights

The Clippers have signed free agent center/power forward Marreese Speights.

Nicknamed “Mo Buckets,” Speights is useful as a scorer in limited minutes.

Speights, 28, averaged 7.1 points and 3.3 rebounds in 11.6 minutes of play over 72 games for the Golden State Warriors while connecting on a career-high 24 three-pointers last season. Speights was a key member of the Warriors’ 2014-15 NBA Championship team, averaging a career-high 10.4 points and 4.3 rebounds. The former 16th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers has career averages of 7.8 points and 4.1 rebounds over 571 games (73 starts) with Philadelphia, Memphis, Cleveland and Golden State.

Speights, 6-foot-10 inches, spent two years at the University of Florida, helping lead the Gators to the 2007-08 NCAA Championship. The St. Petersburg, Florida native is one of 42 players in basketball history to win both an NCAA Championship and an NBA Championship.

The L.A. Clippers have re-signed free agents Jamal Crawford, Wesley Johnson, Luc Mbah A Moute and Austin Rivers.

Crawford’s deal is reportedly a $42 million dollar contract over three years.

Johnson’s deal is reportedly an $18 million dollar contract over three years.

jamal Crawford

Crawford, the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year, averaged 14.2 points and 2.3 assists last season for the Clippers in 79 games (five starts). In his fourth season with the Clippers, he ranked second in the NBA in free throw shooting (.904) and scored in double figures 58 times. One of the most explosive bench scorers in NBA history and the only three-time winner of the Sixth Man of the Year award, Crawford ranks 89th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (17,076 points) and is 7th on the NBA’s all-time three-pointers list (1,933 three-pointers). Crawford, 36, has averaged 15.5 points and 3.6 assists in 1,100 career games (432 starts) with Chicago, New York, Golden State, Atlanta, Portland and the Clippers.

Clippers will keep Luc Mbah a Moute

Mbah a Moute started a lot yet played few minutes last season

Forward Luc Mbah a Moute played five season for the Bucks, then played for the Timberwolves, Kings, Sixers, then the Clippers last season. He started 61 of the 75 games he played for LAC, but that’s deceptive — he played a mere 17.0 minutes per game, averaging 3.1 points an 2.3 rebounds. Still, the Clippers like him enough to bring him back for 2016-17. Here’s the OC Register:

Clippers will keep Luc Mbah a Moute

The Clippers and free agent Luc Mbah a Moute have agreed to a deal to bring back the versatile, veteran forward for the next two seasons.

According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the deal is worth $4.5 million with Mbah a Moute having an option for the second year. The Clippers were able to keep him by using their bi-annual exception.

Four days into free agency and the Clippers seem to be mostly wrapped up, with a replacement for departed center Cole Aldrich the only glaring item on the agenda.

Jamal Crawford returning to Clippers

Jamal Crawford returning to Clippers

Jamal Crawford is 36 years old, past his prime and in the golden years of his career, but still able to score. This past regular season for the Clippers he averaged 14.2 ppg on 40.4% shooting. The squad apparently thinks he has enough game left to bring him back on a multi-year deal.

According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the deal is for $42 million over three years, with the third year a partial guarantee. Overall, that’s $14 million per season.

That’s a bigger and longer contract than we expected Crawford to receive at this point in his career. Even with the new cap and higher salaries taken into account. It seemed more likely that he’s receive a one or at most two-year deal. But, people like having Jamal around. So, he’ll remain with the LAC.

Kevin Durant’s Thunder were one win away from reaching the 2016 NBA Finals. This offseason, they traded their starting power forward Serge Ibaka away for a starting shooting guard (Victor Oladipo) and some depth. So, Durant should stick with OKC, right? That’s what’s expected to happen. But Durant is taking meetings with other squads. Here’s reporting:

Clippers trying hard to land Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant and the Los Angeles Clippers met for approximately four hours Friday night in the Hamptons, and sources close to the situation say Durant was “blown away” by the Clippers’ presentation.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, president Doc Rivers, executive vice president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were present at the meeting.

According to a source, Durant was incredibly impressed by the vision and direction of the Clippers and made a strong connection with those at the meeting.

Chris Paul did not make it to the meeting but spoke to Durant beforehand and made his pitch over the phone; the two have talked throughout the process, including last week, sources told ESPN.

Coach Kevin Eastman retires

Eastman has 31 years of combined pro and college basketball experience

Coach Kevin Eastman retires

The Clippers have announced the retirement of assistant coach Kevin Eastman, who served as a Clippers coach for two seasons and was an assistant under Clippers President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Doc Rivers in Boston for eight years.

“Kevin has one of the best basketball minds I have ever been around,” Rivers said. “After much deliberation, he has decided to move forward with his goals and aspirations to impact the game through speaking and consulting at all levels. Kevin has been an integral part of the Clippers success and culture, and his unparalleled loyalty will be greatly missed. We are thankful for his time and commitment and I am confident he will continue to excel both on and off the court.”

Eastman spent the 2014-15 season as the Clippers Vice President of Basketball Operations and has been involved in college and professional basketball for a combined 31 years.

Blake Griffin will not play for 2016 Team USA

Clippers forward Blake Griffin won’t participate in this summer’s USA Basketball Team training camps and exhibition tour. That’s the team that will play in the summer Olympics.

Griffin underwent a bone marrow procedure on his left quad tendon on April 27 and has already begun the rehabilitation process with the expectation that he will be ready for the start of the 2016-17 NBA season.

The five-time NBA All-Star originally injured the quad on December 25, 2015 against the Lakers.

In 35 regular season games this season, Griffin averaged 21.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 33.4 minutes. In four playoff games, he averaged 15.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford is the winner of the 2015-16 NBA Sixth Man Award for his contributions in a reserve role, the NBA announced today. He becomes the first player to earn the honor three times. The 36-year-old Crawford also breaks his own record, set two years ago, as the oldest winner.

Crawford amassed 51 first-place votes and 341 total points from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. The Golden State Warriors’ Andre Iguodala finished second with 288 points (33 first-place votes), and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Enes Kanter was third with 182 points (19 first-place votes).

Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote. To be eligible for the award, players had to have come off the bench in more games than they started.

Crawford came off the bench in 74 of his 79 appearances and averaged 14.2 points and 2.3 assists in 26.9 minutes in all games, helping the Clippers (53-29) post their fourth straight 50-win season. He recorded 33 games with 15 or more points off the bench, third most in the NBA behind the Denver Nuggets’ Will Barton (38) and the New Orleans Pelicans’ Ryan Anderson (36). As a starter, Crawford scored at least 30 points in four of five games. Crawford also ranked second in the NBA in free throw percentage (90.4).

A 16-year veteran, Crawford previously won the Kia NBA Sixth Man Award in 2009-2010 with the Atlanta Hawks and in 2013-14 with the Clippers. When Crawford was honored for the first time as a Clipper, he joined Kevin McHale, Ricky Pierce and Detlef Schrempf as the only two-time winners. Crawford is the only player to win the award with multiple teams.

The Indiana Pacers’ Frank Vogel and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Doc Rivers today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month, respectively, for games played in April.

Vogel led the Pacers to the best record in the Eastern Conference at 6-1. The Pacers won their final three games and held off the Detroit Pistons for the seventh seed in the East playoffs. Indiana averaged 108 points per game and shot a conference-best 49.3 percent from the field in April. Four of the Pacers’ six wins came by double digits, and their +8.6 scoring differential led the conference.

Rivers guided the Clippers, the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoffs, to a 6-1 record, tops in the West. The Clippers surrendered 100 or more points just twice in seven games and held opponents to an average of 94.1 points on a league-low 40.6 percent shooting from the field. L.A. posted back-to-back home wins over two West playoff teams, the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies, on April 10 and 12, rounding out a 4-0 month at Staples Center.

Other nominees for Coach of the Month were Boston’s Brad Stevens, Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, Dallas’ Rick Carlisle, Golden State’s Steve Kerr, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, Portland’s Terry Stotts and Toronto’s Dwane Casey.

Ryan Gomes named D-League Impact Player of the Year

Los Angeles D-Fenders forward Ryan Gomes was today named the 2015-16 NBA Development League Impact Player of the Year, as voted on by the league’s 19 head coaches. The award recognizes a player who joined an NBA D-League team after Nov. 26, 2015, and made the greatest contribution to his team’s success following that in-season acquisition.

Gomes (6-7, 245, Providence) joined the D-Fenders, the NBA D-League affiliate of the Los Angeles Lakers, on Jan. 7, 2016, and played his first game on Jan. 9, 19 games into the 2015-16 season. He appeared in the team’s next 31 games (28 starts), averaging 18.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 32.0 minutes. He scored in double figures 28 times, including two 30-plus point outings, and recorded nine double-doubles.

Gomes helped the D-Fenders to a 27-23 regular-season record and the fourth overall seed in the NBA D-League Western Conference Playoffs. The team defeated the Reno Bighorns 2-1 in the Conference Semifinals and will face the Austin Spurs in the best-of-three Conference Finals.

An eight-year NBA veteran, Gomes was selected by the Boston Celtics in the second round (50th overall pick) of the 2005 NBA Draft. Gomes owns NBA career averages of 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 27.6 minutes in 487 games with the Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Here’s the Los Angeles Daily News reporting on the Clippers and power forward Blake Griffin. It’ll definitely be worth keeping track of how Griffin fits back in with the squad as he makes his long-awaited return:

Blake Griffin set to return for Clippers

Blake Griffin will not have played for three months and a week when he takes the floor with his Clippers for a game against the Washington Wizards on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Staples Center.

He had a partially torn left quad tendon. He still does, actually. He had a fractured right hand because he punched team assistant equipment manager Matias Testi on Jan. 23. For that, he served a four-game suspension, and also lost a fifth game’s pay for his punch-related injury.

Griffin, who has apologized for his actions, was asked Saturday what he’s learned about himself through this ordeal.

“Yeah, I learned a lot,” he said before practice. “But those things are for me. You learn a lot about a lot of people and you kind of figure out a lot of things. But those are things, like I said, for me.”

DeAndre Jordan is above 70% FG this season

In addition to his rebounding prowess, Clippers center DeAndre Jordan also leads the NBA in field goal percentage (70.2). The 6-11 center, who also led the league in field goal percentage last season (71.0), is seeking to become the first player in NBA history to hit the 70 percent mark twice in a career. Wilt Chamberlain shot an NBA record 72.7 percent in 1972-73. Jordan isn’t the only Clipper scorching the nets. Jamal Crawford leads the league in free throw percentage (91.4), while J.J. Redick is pacing all players in three-point percentage (47.1). No team has ever had all three leaders at the end of a season since the three-point line was introduced for the 1979-80 season.

– NBA News

Blake Griffin begins serving suspension

Blake Griffin begins serving suspension

The L.A. Clippers announced today that forward Blake Griffin has been medically cleared for all basketball activities and will begin serving his four-game, team-imposed suspension on Sunday, March 27 when the Clippers play the Denver Nuggets.

Griffin has missed the last 41 games with a partially torn left quad tendon and right hand fracture, and will return to action on Sunday, April 3 against the Washington Wizards.

In his 30 games this season, Griffin is averaging 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 34.9 minutes

The Los Angeles Clippers have signed forward/center Alex Stepheson to a second 10-day contract.

Stepheson, 28, has appeared in two games with the Clippers scoring two points, grabbing two rebounds and recording one block in nine minutes.

The 6-foot-10 inch forward/center appeared in 31 games (all starts) for the Iowa Energy in the NBA Developmental League this season and was a 2016 D-League All-Star, averaging 15.9 points, a league-high 13.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks

The Los Angeles native and former Harvard-Westlake star has played professionally in Greece, Slovenia and Turkey since finishing his collegiate career at the University of Southern California.

Stepheson averaged 12.3 points and a league-leading 9.2 rebounds in 26.8 minutes over 29 games (21 starts) during the 2014-15 season for Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi.

Undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft, Stepheson also made three appearances for the Dallas Mavericks during the 2015 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Here’s the OC Register reporting on the 37-20 Clippers, who have more than survived their time without injured power forward Blake Griffin:

In the first 15 games of the season, the Clippers’ defensive rating was 104.0, 23rd in the NBA. In the 42 games since, that number drops all the way to 99.0, the second-best total in the league, trailing only the San Antonio Spurs (96.5).

As of Thursday, the Clippers had the sixth-best defense in the NBA (100.3).

One reason stands out for the drastic improvement: The Clippers simply got more comfortable with the changes they made.

The biggest switch had to do with DeAndre Jordan, who was moved from the perimeter closer to the paint on pick-and-roll coverage. The change was designed to keep the Clippers from scrambling to cover for one another and to keep opponents from getting open 3-point attempts.

Vander Blue named D-League Performer of Week

Vander Blue of the Los Angeles D-Fenders was today named NBA Development League Performer of the Week for games played Monday, Feb. 15 through Sunday, Feb. 21. The honor is the first of Blue’s career.

Blue (6-4, 200, Marquette) helped Los Angeles to a 3-0 week, averaging 29.7 points (second in the league) on 46.7 percent shooting (28-for-60) to go with 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 steals. He connected on 28-of-31free throw attempts, good for 90.3 percent.

Other top performers considered include Austin’s Keifer Sykes, Erie’s Tyler Harvey, Idaho’s J.J. O’Brien, Iowa’s Andrew Harrison, Maine’s Coty Clarke and Malcolm Miller, Reno’s Ricky Ledo, Rio Grande Valley’s Will Cummings, Texas’ Brandon Ashley and Westchester’s Gani Lawal.

The L.A. Clippers announced today the team has signed forward/center Alex Stepheson to a 10-day contract.

Stepheson, 28, appeared in 31 games (all starts) for the Iowa Energy in the NBA Developmental League this season and was a 2016 D-League All-Star, averaging 15.9 points, a league-high 13.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks

The Los Angeles native and former Harvard-Westlake star has played professionally in Greece, Slovenia and Turkey since finishing his collegiate career at the University of Southern California.

The 6-foot-10 inch forward/center averaged 12.3 points and a league-leading 9.2 rebounds in 26.8 minutes over 29 games (21 starts) during the 2014-15 season for Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi.

Undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft, Stepheson also made three appearances for the Dallas Mavericks during the 2015 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

jeff green

The L.A. Clippers announced today the team has acquired forward Jeff Green from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Lance Stephenson and a future protected first-round pick.

Green, 29, is averaging 12.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 53 games (31 starts) for Memphis this season. The seven-year NBA veteran has career averages of 14.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 609 regular season appearances (463 starts) with the Grizzlies, Boston Celtics and Seattle/Oklahoma City Thunder.

“Lance was a true professional and we appreciate all that he did for us,” Clippers President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Doc Rivers said. “In the short time he was here, he had a good impact on our team. We are excited to add Jeff to the Clippers and I am looking forward to coaching him again.”

A Maryland native, the 6-foot-9 inch Green played under Rivers in Boston from 2011-2013 and was a member of the 2007-08 NBA All-Rookie First Team.

Originally selected by Boston with the 5th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft out of Georgetown University, Green was traded to Seattle on Draft Night. The 2007 Big East Player of the Year, Green led the Hoyas to the Final Four before declaring for the draft following his junior season.

Stephenson, 25, averaged 4.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 43 games (10 starts) for the Clippers this season. He holds career averages of 8.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists over 314 games (186 starts) for the Clippers, Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers.

lance stephenson

The Clippers beat the trade deadline buzzer Thursday by sending Lance Stephenson and a lottery-protected first-round draft pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for Jeff Green in a move that bolsters their frontcourt.

Green can play both forward positions and could presumably fill in at power forward until Blake Griffin returns from a broken right hand and a four-game suspension that is expected to sideline him until next month.

Then Green, 29, could switch to small forward, one of the Clippers’ biggest needs in recent seasons as it started Matt Barnes and Luc Mbah a Moute.

The 6-foot-9, 235-pound Green, who is in the final season of a contract that pays him $9.4 million, was averaging 12.2 points and 4.5 rebounds for the Grizzlies. Green spent two seasons playing for Clippers Coach Doc Rivers in Boston while also sitting out the 2011-12 season because of a heart condition.

– Los Angeles Times

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