The gamble the Clippers took over the summer of having fewer veteran guards on the roster has turned into a risky proposition because of mounting injuries to their backcourt.
They began training camp with a healthy Patrick Beverley, Austin Rivers, Milos Teodosic and Lou Williams, all of them seasoned guards.
Now the Clippers are down to only two because they lost Beverley (sore right knee) and Rivers (strained right glute) to injuries.
It has put their guard rotation in jeopardy with the regular season getting ready to start.
“Going into this, every year your team takes a gamble. It’s like ‘[Let’s have] less threes [small forwards], less fours [power forwards], less fives [centers],’” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Every team does it. This year we said, ‘OK, less guards. We’re young.’ And bam! But it’s early and hopefully they’ll be back.”
Beverley and Austin Rivers won’t play in the final two exhibition games, Thursday against the Sacramento Kings or Friday against the Lakers. Both games are at Staples Center.
Both are expected to be ready for the season opener Oct. 19 against the Lakers.
“I would say I’m not I’m not concerned with Patrick at all,” Doc Rivers said. “For Austin, I think the effects of the [mononucleosis] is probably our biggest concern. Just it lingering and it leads to other stuff because you get tired quicker. That may be the reason for the muscle strain. We don’t know the right thing to do there, and I think we’ll learn as the early season goes on on how to treat him.”
Making things worse for the Clippers was having rookie guard Sindarius Thornwell sustain a sprained right shoulder during Tuesday’s scrimmage.
“It’s just a little sore right now,” Thornwell said.
He was starting to show signs of perhaps being able to help, but Thornwell probably will be out at least a week.
So not having that fifth veteran guard on the roster may hurt the Clippers.
“Yeah, you usually do have [five veteran guards], but we like Sindarius a lot,” Doc Rivers said. “I look at him as a three-two, or a two-three. But, the bottom line is he’s a basketball player.”
The Clippers’ injury problems aren’t limited to their guards.
Danilo Gallinari has a strained left foot that kept him out of Sunday’s exhibition game and the scrimmage Tuesday. His return for one of the remaining exhibition games is uncertain. He was on the court Wednesday shooting stand-still jumpers, but Gallinari still hasn’t been able to run on the court.
Sam Dekker also shot before practice and appears closer to returning from a strained left oblique than Gallinari.
“I know Gallo is really close to returning,” Doc Rivers said before practice. “I would expect him to play in one of the two games. I think Sam will probably play in one of the two games, if not both games.”