Los Angeles Clippers Have Options With Veteran Bigs Working Out

By Westley Monell
Andrew Bynum
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers are still looking for ways to improve and add depth to the roster. In a deep Western Conference, last year’s No. 3 seed is not only trying to fend off everyone else, but they aim to leap frog the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder.

The squad has already brought in veterans Spencer Hawes and Jordan Farmar this offseason. As it stands, the current rotation of power forwards and centers consists of starters Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, along with reserves Glen Davis and Hawes. Hawes is an offensive upgrade from Ryan Hollins, last year’s backup center who is currently a free agent. To fill that void on the defensive end, some veteran bigs are coming to town for a workout.

Andray Blatche has spent the last few seasons coming off the bench for the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards. Blatche fits in the Eastern Conference, as he excels in half-court offense inside the arc. The power forward has some skills getting to the hoop when facing up his opponent from mid-range. More of an offensive player and power forward, he’s averaged double-digit points in the past two seasons played for the Nets with a handful of boards.

Here’s where the defensive-oriented players come in. Although low-risk, they come with a history of health concerns. Greg Oden, the top pick in the 2007 draft over the prospect of Kevin Durant, has only played in 105 games. A member of the Miami Heat roster a season ago, he only contributed 23 minutes from opening day to their Finals defeat. Known for his shot-blocking, the big man can finish inside with either hand. I believed in the return of guard Shaun Livingston, who revitalized his career with the Nets after a pair of serious knee injuries. He recently just signed with the Golden State Warriors. Truth be told, it’s challenging to return to form after a knee injury, but even more so for a 7-footer because they usually don’t bounce back.

The same can be said for Emeka Okafor, another center coming in for a workout who was once highly thought of. The 31-year-old missed the 2013-14 season with a herniated disc. Okafor has missed significant time in the 2011-12 season as well. In 2012-13, he posted nearly 10 points and nine rebounds per game for the Wizards where he only missed three games. Connecting on 57 percent of his field goals that season, he once averaged 2.6 blocks per contest before dropping to one block that year as well. I think he can provide a big body down low.

Then there’s Andrew Bynum, who’s no stranger to Los Angeles. The former Los Angeles Lakers center has expressed his desire to return, and he is getting that chance to play in the same building and locker room, only in different colors. The former All-Star has been sidelined for the past two and a half seasons as a member of the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers. His mental issues may be more detrimental to any team than his knee issues as far as attitude and motivation are concerned. In his last productive season, he put up nearly 19 points, 12 rebounds, with a pair of blocks in 35 minutes per game in the 2011-12 campaign. Those are strong numbers, and if any coach can rejuvenate the aloof talent, it’s certainly Doc Rivers.

The Clippers are experienced and have boosted the staff with new assistants in Mike Woodson and Sam Cassell. If health is the top factor then the answer is Blatche, as he can make an immediate impact in the rotation. If they want potential, which has been a disappointing word with the other three bigs, you have to go with Bynum who’s played in All-Star Games before. Okafor would be the biggest team player of the group based on his reputation. Oden has been limited the most by injuries, resulting in the fewest career games played.

The Clippers can afford to sign two of these hopefuls at the league minimum. They would join a team in which playing time is earned, as Danny Granger, Stephen Jackson and Antawn Jamison can attest to last season. Don’t be surprised if Rivers believes the altered approach recently taken by Bynum. We’re talking about a coach who meshed star egos in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo to win a championship.

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