One key part missing from the Los Angeles Clippers all of last season was a big man who could ably step in and guard the interior (no, Glen Davis did not count). On August 31, the Clippers ameliorated that issue by signing veteran big man Chuck Hayes, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.
This may not seem like much on the surface. It’s just Chuck Hayes, after all – a stable, veteran big who, despite his size, is a very good interior defender, but that’s really about it. Viewed in a vacuum, this is true. However, when the signing is considered within the greater context of the Clippers’ summer, Hayes is the cherry on top of what has been a surprisingly good free agency for Doc Rivers’ team.
Of course, at first it didn’t look like it would be a good summer at all for the Clippers, as they lost* DeAndre Jordan to the Dallas Mavericks. The addition of Paul Pierce was celebrated, but that celebration was rather somber given that the Clippers had lost* an integral part of their system. Once Jordan changed his mind in one of the more bizarre sagas in NBA free agency history, everything started coming up Clippers.
They traded Spencer Hawes — who simply did not work out at all in his lone season with the team — to the Charlotte Hornets for Lance Stephenson, who likewise was a massive disappointment in Charlotte. Stephenson is a gamble, but Rivers has shown an ability to connect with — and foster — players who carry the “troubled” label. Even if Born Ready is born again, it was still absolutely the right move for the Clippers, who were in desperate need of youth and versatility on the perimeter.
But the Clippers weren’t done adding to their depth. They also managed to sign Josh Smith — still a very good player who is only 29 — at the veteran’s minimum. After burning out in Detroit early last season, Smith emerged as a force for the Rockets. In fact, it was Smith’s improbable heroics that brought the Rockets back from the brink of extinction at the hands of the Clippers in the playoffs.
What was once a weakness for the Clippers – wing depth, or really depth of any kind, and players who can create for themselves – is now approaching a strength. Doc Rivers’ tenure as general manager of the Clippers got off to a very rocky start with odd signings and head-scratching trades. This summer was a massive upgrade, and maybe a sign that Rivers could be getting the hang of the managerial aspects of his dual roles within the the Clippers organization.