Inexperience, the downside for most young NBA players, is probably the best thing Jay Edwards has going for him to remain a member of the Clippers, if in name only.
"If he were a veteran player who had been in the league a couple years, I think at this point in time we probably would have released him," General Manager Elgin Baylor said.
But since Edwards would have been starting his senior season at Indiana University had he not turned pro after his sophomore year, the Clippers will wait some more, realizing now, as when they made the guard the No. 33 pick in 1989, that it's an investment.
Baylor had counted on waiting only for Edwards to develop as a player. But in March, less than a year after being named the Big Ten player of the year, Edwards failed a league-mandated rookie drug test and has been on the suspended list ever since.
Edwards, 21, who had also tested positive in a drug test while at Indiana, appeared in only four games last season as the second-youngest player in the NBA. He was further hampered by tendinitis in his knee that eventually required surgery. Tonight, as the Clippers open what should have been his second season, Edwards remains on the suspended list, his future more tenuous than ever.
Any decision on his return will be made by Dr. David Lewis of the Adult Substance Abuse Program in Van Nuys, the league rehabilitation center. Edwards visits Lewis three times a week as an outpatient, works on strength and conditioning and continues therapy for the knee. And waits.