Starting center Ivica Zubac has not yet joined the Clippers in the NBA restart bubble due to undisclosed personal reasons. Marcus Morris also has yet to arrive in Orlando, and also for an undisclosed reason. Montrezl Harrell had to leave the bubble for a family emergency, saying in an Instagram story it had to do with his grandmother.
That leaves just signed Joakim Noah as the only real center on the Clippers’ roster right now (JaMychal Green could play some small-ball five for a short stretch, but that’s not a solution). It’s very possible the Clippers will be short-handed across the frontline for the scrimmages that start next week between teams.
Ask the Clippers about this and they shrug. It’s business as usual.
“You know, we’ve been down and missed guys pretty much all season long, so we’ve been filling it in,” Paul George said Saturday in a conference call with reporters. “We’ve been holding it down until everybody has been available, and we plan on continuing to do so.”
The Clippers battled through guys being out all season — George missed the start of the season recovering from shoulder surgeries, Kawhi Leonard was getting load management time for his legs, Patrick Beverley and Landry Shamet missed time (and Shamet is not yet in Orlando), and the list goes on. However, after the All-Star break the Clippers were healthy and starting to come together, and the team had by far the best net rating in the NBA for that stretch. Then came the coronavirus and the league shut down.
“It was a little frustrating because we played our way all the way up until that point, we played ourselves into that chemistry, into that zone we were in…” George said. “It was tough to take this little break. But I think ultimately it’s going to pay off. Again, we had so many guys dealing with little nicks and bruises, and we were one of the teams that could have benefitted off of the healing process and coming together healthy. This break did wonders for this group, and we’re going to pick up where we left off at.”
“We was hitting on all cylinders,” Green said recently to reporters. “But it’s a minor setback and it’s just like a new fresh start for us. Everybody is healthy, so that’s great. So we’ve just got to get it back going.”
To get to where they left off, the Clippers need everyone in the Orlando bubble. They just are not discussing when that will happen. Clippers coach Doc Rivers was asked about Harrell’s possible return.
“When he needs to get back, he’ll be back.” Rivers said.
Will the Clippers have time to get everyone on the court and their chemistry back? Answer: TBD. It’s one of the many questions that make this NBA campus restart an experiment unlike anything else in NBA history.