The L.A. Clippers today announced their 2018-19 training camp roster. The team signed free-agent forward Desi Rodriguez to bring the roster to 20 players. Rodriguez, 22, played four collegiate seasons at Seton Hall University, appearing in 129 games (97 starts) and averaging 12.8 points and 4.9 rebounds, while shooting 36 percent from three-point range in 26.3 minutes. The 6’6”, 220-pound swingman was named to the Second Team All-Big East as a senior, after averaging 17.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in his final collegiate season. A native of the Bronx, NY, Rodriguez went undrafted in 2018.
League sources maintain the Wolves will hold out for at least one first-round pick as part of a package for Butler, and will also want some young vets who can grow with Towns, Wiggins and Jeff Teague, whom Thibodeau pushed hard for last summer to take over for Ricky Rubio at the point, going forward. And Miami, rumored on Sunday to be making a push for Butler, can trade its 2019 first-round pick after officially moving its 2018 first to Phoenix as part of the Goran Dragic trade. (The Heat would not violate the Stepien Rule prohibiting the trade of successive first-round picks in Drafts by trading its 2019 first.) Pat Riley is always in acquisition mode, and would certainly be willing to gamble if he could convince Butler to be the next great franchise player on South Beach within a year.
But sources have said that limited partner David Heller, a businessman and former Goldman Sachs executive, was running the show in Colangelo’s absence, and that he, more than Brown, was the acting general manager at least through the NBA draft process if not the whole offseason. Sources have said that co-managing owner Josh Harris listens entirely to Heller.
Joel Embiid, no stranger to overcoming the rigors of the NBA, says Phoenix Suns rookie Deandre Ayton is about to be introduced to a process all his own. Embiid, in an interview Friday on ESPN’s The Jump at Philadelphia 76ers media day, said the 2018 No. 1 draft pick will have his work cut out for him in his first professional season. “He’s about to get his ass kicked this year,” Embiid said.
“He’s going to be good,” Embiid told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols and Stephen Jackson. “But when you talk about ‘He looks like Joel Embiid.’ I play on both sides of the court. I think I’m a good offensive player, good defensive player. I do it on both ends of the floor. I watched him play and he’s got a lot of work to do. But he’s got a lot of potential. He’s going to be really good.”
New coach David Fizdale seemed on board with not making any big splash before free agency. “We want to build it from the ground up culturally, through the draft, like Steve is talking about. We don’t want to jump at the shiny things,” Fizdale said. “We want to make solid decisions and be patient with this process. I’m a big part of that process. If I get rattled or start trying to nudge these guys, I’m too big a chunk to be disrupting this process. I’m locked into developing these kids and pouring in everything that I have into that right now.”