Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Baron at Clipperville

Will the addition of No. 1 Draft pick Blake Griffin to the Clips spur Baron to re-dedicate himself to his craft and lead the Clippers to respectibility next season? Hope BDiddy sheds some weight and gets into primo shape for the next season. Good luck, Baron!

Immediate Needs: Los Angeles Clippers
By: Eric Pincus, Hoops World
Last Updated: 6/11/09 10:58 AM ET

Mike Dunleavy struts into the tunnel at STAPLES Center, leaving his battered players to finish out the year. The Oklahoma City Thunder (23-59) lead 76-53, en route to a 41-point victory over the home team. The general manager/coach of the Los Angeles Clippers gets an early ejection midway through the third quarter as an awful season finally nears a close.

Rewind to the summer of 2008. The Clippers come to terms with superstar point guard Baron Davis. The team drafts Eric Gordon and retools with a number of veterans including Marcus Camby, Ricky Davis, Jason Hart, Brian Skinner and Steve Novak.

The plan is playoffs; the concern is developing chemistry with only four significant holdovers from the previous season (Chris Kaman, Al Thornton, Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas).

The season would stall with injuries on the very first day of training camp. Baron would miss 16 games, often playing hurt while averaging just 14.9 points a night on 37.0% shooting from the field. So much for the "Baron Davis Era."

A November trade of Mobley and Thomas to New York for Zach Randolph would give the flagging Clippers a boost but Zach would quickly join the walking wounded with a nasty bone bruise.

Kaman would miss 51 games, Camby 20, Ricky Davis 46 and Randolph about 32.

When exactly did a pocket of fans at STAPLES Center start chanting "Fire Dunleavy!" near the end of games? No one seems to recall . . .

Maybe it was a coaching problem. Maybe the players didn't work hard. Maybe it was just bad luck and injuries. Maybe the mix of players just didn't fit; the chemistry never evolved.

To some extent - all of the above.

Fortunately in the NBA, the slate is wiped clean the moment the offseason begins.

All that pain and hardship and L.A. gets the lucky bounce.

On May 20th the Clippers defied the 17.7% odds, winning the 2009 NBA Draft lottery. Without hesitation, the organization makes it clear that consensus number one pick, Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin is their man.

Griffin visits on June 6th for a workout in front of the media and some 100 season ticket holders. He's only 20 years old but has huge hands and a man's body. While his jump shot needs work, the Clippers quickly see that this is a guy they can put on the floor right away.

Blake is equally impressive in person. He's humble and conscientious. Everyone with the Clippers is all smiles, thankful for the good fortune. His shooting will improve with work and proper coaching.

Dunleavy had been talking about Griffin as the class of the Draft since back in March. This is their guy.

Now, what do to with the four starting caliber big men on the roster, competing for 96 minutes a game at power forward and center? That doesn't even include the DeAndre Jordan and veteran Skinner who can opt out of his $1.3 million contract (and might considering the minute crunch).

Clearly the team has to thin the ranks, but who goes?

In Camby, they have a desirable veteran with an expiring contract. He's certain to draw the interest of playoff teams looking for that final piece, but how much young talent and worthwhile draft picks can the 35-year old center return? If the Clippers indeed become a viable playoff contender, Marcus might be invaluable.

What about Kaman, coming off of an injury-plagued year? He's only 27 and is reasonably paid for his position. It wasn't long ago he averaged 15.7 points, 12.7 boards and 2.8 blocks a game. If the Clippers send Chris away, who plays center if Camby misses another 20 games or when his contract runs out?

Randolph is set to earn $16 million next season and, until Griffin is ready to start, will serve as the primary inside force in the Clipper offense. It's not easy to replace 20 points and roughly 10 rebounds a night. Blake may get there but that might be too much to ask of a rookie.

Considering the Clippers would have been paying Mobley (now retired) and Thomas more than they're paying Zach (who has 30% of his contract deferred), from LA's perspective they have the big man at a discount.

Camby would be the easiest to move but he may not return as much as Kaman. Trading Chris leaves unresolved long-term questions at center. Zach might be tougher sell of the three considering the size of his annual contract. Salary matching is rarely easy and the Clippers don't have much in the way of roster spots available.

Heading into June's draft and possibly beyond into the summer, Dunleavy and the Clippers will be entertaining offers for all three but only one is likely to go.

The Clippers might look for value like Kaman to the Chicago Bulls for Kirk Hinrich. They might look for another lottery pick in this year's draft to add to their young, promising core.

Teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder might have interest in July, with cap room to use in an uneven trade. The Dallas Mavericks have a player like Jerry Stackhouse whose contract has a built-in $2 million buy-out, providing immediate relief financially.

As the draft nears, the rumor mill will buzz. The Clippers are willing, but patient sellers.

Not many teams are looking to trade away a quality big. The Clippers should be in a position of strength and are in no rush. They're not in the luxury tax and have no order from ownership to reduce payroll.

Baron Davis has been working out every day without exception since May 10th. The team has decided to give him another opportunity to lead their team. The hope is that Baron will carry a chip on his shoulder, looking to reestablish his reputation as one of the top point guards in the league.

For the fans crying for Dunleavy's ouster, he too will get another year to prove he can manage the personality quirks and of his roster. At this point, Dunleavy and Baron need each other . . .

Additionally, Ricky Davis can opt out of his $2.4 million but serious knee tendinitis has hurt his market value. The Clippers will issue a qualifying offer to restricted free agent sniper Steve Novak.

L.A. was happy with the performance of Fred Jones this past year, originally joining the team on a 10-day contract but they won't likely have the roster space for his return.

The non-guaranteed contract for Mike Taylor is all but a given to be picked up although the same cannot be said for Alex Acker, acquired midseason from the Detroit Pistons. The Clippers have him until the end of the month, keeping him around in case they need to guarantee his deal for next year and include him as filler in a bigger trade.

As far as free agency, that doesn't appear to be a priority to the Clippers considering the in-house talent. Expect the team to hold onto the Mid-Level Exception until the bigger questions are answered.

Ultimately the Clippers need a healthy, motivated Baron Davis. They need Dunleavy to both develop the young kids while managing the more volatile personalities on the roster (like Baron and Zach).

One lesson the team learned from last year's disaster is that chemistry is not easy to come by. The hope is that the heavy lifting will be done sooner than later so that the training camp roster will be the team to live or die by.

Of course it all depends on what the Clippers get offered . . .

Josh talks about workout with Blazers

Trail Blazers NBA pre-draft workout: UCLA's Josh Shipp

NBA pre-draft video: UCLA's Josh Shipp
Posted by Sean Meagher, Blazers Blog, June 09, 2009 18:13PM

Originally an early entry candidate for the 2008 NBA Draft, fifth-year senior Josh Shipp talks about his draft process and his workout for the Trail Blazers Tuesday.

From the draft guide ...

Career highlights: Named Second Team All-Pac-10 as a senior and Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 as a junior. Ranks 13th on UCLA's career list in total points with 1,700. Set a school record for career starts with 132 and finished fourth in three-point field goals made (196).

Strengths: Good size and strength for a two-guard. Fundamentally sound and will defend. Has shown significant improvement as a long-range shooter. Effective in spot-up situations.

Trail Blazers director of college scouting Chad Buchanan (via Casey Holdahl):

"Josh seems like he's been around for years. A very smart, intelligent player. He's got great shooting mechanics. More athletic than you would think from a guy who's battled a lot of hip and leg injuries. He had a bad back there for a little bit but he's bounced back physically and looks really good.
"Trying to figure out where he fits in to our league. Is he a two? Is he a three? He's probably a second round type candidate. He could go undrafted possibly, but he's got size for his position and he can shoot a little bit. If he doesn't get drafted he'll end up on a summer league team somewhere."

Sounds official to me

photo credit: Los Angeles Times

UCLA's Holiday to hire agent, go pro
Guard is projected as a top-10 pick in many mock drafts
By Brian Dohn, Staff Writer
Updated: 06/12/2009 10:00:34 PM PDT

Campbell Hall High of North Hollywood product Jrue Holiday spent the morning of his 19 th birthday working out for the Sacramento Kings, then chillin' in the evening as he continued his path toward the NBA.

The 6-foot-3 guard also used the momentous day to make his departure from UCLA official, saying Friday he will sign with an agent and forego his final three years of college eligibility to remain in the NBA draft. The story was first reported on

"It wasn't really (a tough decision)," Holiday said. "I'm in the position I want to be in. I'm hearing lottery, and that's where I want to be."

Holiday added a decision was not yet made on an agent, but one of his advisors is agent Dan Fegan. The NBA draft is June 25.

Holiday averaged 8.5 points and 3.7 assists per game despite playing the shooting-guard position, but was criticized by UCLA fans for not having a bigger impact on a senior-led team.

All of his workouts with NBA teams were as a point guard, his natural position and the place he is most comfortable, and his draft status rose almost immediately.

The Kings hold the fourth pick in the draft, and Holiday worked out for them twice.

He also took part in the Chicago pre-draft camp last month and had workouts with a number of other teams, including the New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. Holiday said he will have more workouts leading up to the draft.

The decision means UCLA is losing a player to the NBA after one season for the second straight year.

Holiday, like center Kevin Love, was a national Gatorade Player of the Year as a high school senior, and was a projected lottery pick before playing for the Bruins.

Love was drafted fifth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies last year and traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

But when Holiday announced in March he was entering the draft, he was hoping to follow another former Bruins' path.

Russell Westbrook impressed NBA personnel so much during workouts last spring he transformed himself from a late first-round selection to the fourth overall pick when he was selected by Seattle, which then moved to Oklahoma City.

Holiday said he would phone Bruins coach Ben Howland today to inform him of his decision.

Holiday had until Monday to withdraw from the draft and return for his sophomore season.

Best of luck, Jrue!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Josh Shipp sighting

Josh participated in a draft workout with The Milwaukee Bucks last Friday, June 5. A couple of write-ups on how he fared. Sources: The Bucks official website and The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel.

Bucks continue draft workouts
By Cherome Owens
Posted: Jun. 5, 2009

photo credit: Milwaukee Bucks website on

The Milwaukee Bucks got another close look at potential draft picks on Friday morning at the Cousins Center.

The six NBA hopefuls invited to the workout were Josh Shipp (UCLA, senior, 6-5, 200), Josh Heytvelt (Gonzaga, senior, 6-11, 250), Brandon Costner (North Carolina State, junior, 6-9, 230), Michael Bramos (Miami-OH, senior, 6-5, 220), Alonzo Gee (Alabama, senior, 6-5, 215) and Alex Ruoff (West Virginia, senior, 6-6, 220).

Friday’s workouts were just as competitive as the first series of workouts held two weeks ago. Each player went through similar drills as the previous workout groups: light warm-ups, vertical jump tests, rope jumping, a variety of lay-up and jump shooting drills, and one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three competitions.

Assistant coaches Kelvin Sampson, Billy Peterson and Adrian Griffin, and Video Coordinator Jason Staudt instructed on-court exercises while Assistant General Manager Jeff Weltman, Head Coach Scott Skiles, Assistant Coach Jim Boylan, Director of Scouting Billy McKinney and Director of Player Personnel Dave Babcock carefully watched from the sidelines to examine and see if one of them has what it takes to be chosen in next month’s NBA Draft.

Two of the prospects at Friday’s workout were college teammates of current Bucks players. Shipp enjoyed much success at UCLA with Bucks forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, while Ruoff and Bucks forward Joe Alexander teamed up at West Virginia. However, only one of them was satisfied after today’s workout, as Ruoff was unable to finish after hurting his ankle.

“It was fun going out there and competing the whole time,” Shipp said. “I feel pretty good. I was able to do a few good things out there. I’m happy with my overall performance. The main thing was that I went out there and competed.”

Josh Shipp
On today’s workout…
“It’s a tough workout. You’re constantly moving. It’s a lot of competitive drills. I liked it. It was fun going out there and competing the whole time. I feel pretty good. I was able to do a few good things out there. I’m happy with my overall performance. The main thing was that I went out there and competed.”

On what he’d bring to the Bucks…
“I feel I can do a little bit of everything. I can shoot, defend, pass, dribble, whatever they need, I feel like I can do.”

On future workouts…
“I have to go to Sacramento, Portland and New Jersey. New Jersey is a group workout so there will be a lot of teams there.”

On talking to former UCLA teammate and current Milwaukee Buck, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute…
“I saw him this morning. I got to laugh and joke with him before the workout so that was cool. He didn’t really give me any advice. We just kind of caught up.”

After Friday’s competitive workout, McKinney gave his perspective on each player:

Josh Shipp – “A teammate of (Luc Richard) Mbah a Moute in college. Reminds me a little bit of Danny Green of North Carolina. Good shooter, good defender. Doesn’t have great foot speed, but for him I think his asset is going to be his ability to knock down outside shots.”

Friday’s exercises were the first workout at the training center since May 22. Last week, Bucks scouts and coaches attended a combine in Chicago from May 27-29 at the Attack Athletics facility. The front office staff also split up to visit group workouts in Minnesota and Golden State.

The Bucks have worked out 24 players thus far and will continue prospect workouts on Tuesday morning at the Cousins Center.


And from The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel:
Hoping history repeats
Shipp aims to follow Mbah a Moute's path
By Tom Enlund of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: Jun. 5, 2009

St. Francis – It's not the kind of shot that UCLA swingman Josh Shipp, or any basketball player for that matter, would forget easily.

Shipp, teammate Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the rest of the Bruins were trailing by one point in the closing seconds of a game against California in 2008 and were inbounding the ball from under their own basket. The ball went on the wing to the 6-foot-5 Shipp, who drove baseline and found himself behind the backboard. He hoisted a rainbow shot that went up over the backboard and fell through with 1.5 seconds left, giving UCLA an 81-80 victory.

Shipp, who averaged 14.5 points as a senior last season, reminisced about the shot after going through a pre-draft workout with the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday at their training center.

"It was one of those shots, you look back and it's just great to be a part of," said Shipp, whose 132 starts are a UCLA record. "I mean, it was a real gutsy shot. I think if I would have hit the backboard, a lot of people would have called me an idiot.

"But I'm one of those players, I want the ball at the end of the game. I'm going to take the tough shot. I practice trick shots all the time. It was even better because it was for the game, but I have fun doing that."

Shipp and Mbah a Moute were UCLA teammates for two full seasons before the Bucks selected Mbah a Moute in the second round of the 2008 draft. Shipp is now being projected as a possible second-round pick - or someone who might not be drafted at all - so he is hoping to follow Mbah a Moute's footsteps as a second-round pick who was able to make an impact with an NBA team.

Mbah a Moute is back in town working out, and the two former teammates chatted before Shipp's workout.

"He's doing well here," said Shipp. "He's a second-round guy who came in and worked hard and contributed to the team a lot this year. It was fun (being teammates). He's one of those guys who makes the game a lot easier for you. He rebounds, passes, shoots, he does a little bit of everything. It was fun playing with him.

"I checked up on him a little bit (during the season). He did a great job. He's one of those guys who does all the little things, so he'll always have a spot."

Shipp was with a group Friday that also included guards Michael Bramos of Miami (Ohio), Alonzo Gee of Alabama and Alex Ruoff of West Virginia, along with forwards Josh Heytvelt of Gonzaga and Brandon Costner of North Carolina State, as the Bucks continue to look at players who are being projected as second-round picks.

The Bucks will conduct more workouts next week involving some of the bigger names in the draft.

Shipp thought he had a good workout.

"It went pretty good," he said. "I did a lot of good things today."

Said Bucks director of scouting Billy McKinney, "I like the fact that he shoots the ball real well and is a good defender. He's a guy that I thought kind of got lost in the UCLA system when you talk about (Jrue) Holiday and (Darren) Collison and other players. (Shipp) is not blessed with tremendous quickness and speed, and that's one thing people will look at why he would slip into the second round or possibly be a free agent. But he can make a team at any level."

Best of luck on June 25, Josh!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jrue this goodbye?

Jrue's video resume donning #21

We sure wish you come back to Westwood come November. But if you must go, we know you will make the Bruin Nation proud. Good luck on June 25, Jrue!

Darren kickin it in Nor Cal

The Jet visits the Warriors and the Kings

And DC's video resume

Nuff said. Good luck on June 25, Darren!!!