Coach Doc Rivers jokingly hinted to his Clippers coaching staff that training camp injuries could derail his team early in the season, not knowing a sore right knee has now sidelined point guard Patrick Beverley.
Rivers said Tuesday at the team’s open practice at the Galen Center that Beverley could be “out for sure probably until the first [regular-season] game” against the Lakers on Oct. 19.
Beverley was injured against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.
“So we’re going to sit him,” Rivers said.
Then to make matters worse, rookie Sindarius Thornwell suffered a sprained right shoulder during an intra-squad scrimmage.
Beverley joined the Clippers’ injured unit that includes Danilo Gallinari (sprained left foot), Austin Rivers (strained right glute) and Sam Dekker (strained left oblique). Rivers also was recovering from mononucleosis that kept him out for six weeks before training camp started Sept. 26 in Hawaii.
Doc Rivers said Gallinari could “possibly play” in either of their two remaining exhibitions — Thursday against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center or Friday against the Lakers.
“I think Austin is pretty much out, it sounds like, for both preseason games,” Rivers said. “I think Sam may be able to play. So, the only one who’s going to miss all the games will probably be Austin.”
Beverley, Austin Rivers, out since the first game in Hawaii, and Gallinari, out since the third game, represent three-fifths of the starting lineup.
Beverley and Gallinari are new to the team, and Austin Rivers is supposed to start for the first time after being a key reserve last season.
“I jokingly said before camp that is the one thing you don’t want to have is injuries to key guys in training camp,” Doc Rivers said. “It’s not a joke anymore. I did say that and now it’s coming back to haunt me.
“You can sustain them during the year because you’ve already got your stuff in, especially when you have new guys. It’s harder during camp because when you have this many new guys, you need them to practice so you can put your stuff in. So, if I’ve learned anything, don’t put anything else in. Just play with what you have and get great at that. Then when guys come back, we can start adding stuff.”
The Clippers have nine new players, and now all the injuries have had an effect on what Rivers is trying to build with his team.
“Well, it just slows it down,” Rivers said. “But our philosophy doesn’t change. So it doesn’t hurt that at all. Obviously you always want more stuff in to take advantage of defense and so we have to do it on the fly. You’re going to sustain injuries anyway. I think we know that. That’s just basketball and sports. … When you have them, you need somebody to step up.”
The Clippers cut LaDontae Henton, leaving the team with 18 players on the roster.