Front-Court Addition Could Be on the Way

Times Staff Writer

This wasn’t supposed to be a busy shopping season for the Clippers, who figured they already had most of what they needed.

But the Clippers are suddenly interested in year-end sales because injuries have left them short-handed and struggling.

After a 14-5 start, the Clippers (16-11) have dropped six of eight while playing without starting small forward Corey Maggette and backup center Zeljko Rebraca, who are not expected to return until the end of January. Backup small forward Quinton Ross, a defensive specialist, also is sidelined because of a sore back.

General Manager Elgin Baylor and Coach Mike Dunleavy have considered bringing in another backup small forward, and help could arrive next week.

“You’re always looking to improve the team, and sometimes you do that by bringing in other guys during the season,” Baylor said after practice Thursday at the Spectrum health club in El Segundo.


“But you have to see who’s available and whether there’s a good fit. A lot of times there isn’t, so you just don’t know. You keep looking, but it might not happen.”

Although the search process has been ongoing since training camp, the Clippers’ efforts have intensified because of their roster situation.

There should be league-wide movement next week as teams waive players before contracts become guaranteed Jan. 9, and the Clippers could find help in veteran players willing to take 10-day contracts.

The Clippers would have to waive a player to open roster space. Because of their depth at point guard, the Clippers might waive Howard Eisley, third on the depth chart, to pursue frontcourt help.

“We’ve talked about a few names,” Dunleavy said. “There are some things we’re considering, but we haven’t done anything yet.

“When we’ve had either Corey or Q, we were able to plug with either more defense or more offense, and now we’re missing both. I’m not going to modify my [goals]; I just have to find ways to get it done.”

Even if management does bolster the bench, the Clippers need to improve their focus, guard Cuttino Mobley said.

“We’ve got some guys out, but it is what it is,” Mobley said. “You can’t sulk about it, because you really can’t predict what we would do if everyone was healthy. Of course, it would be a lot easier, but that’s just the way it is.

“What we have to do is just play smart. We’ve got to play team defense and we’ve got to move the ball. You have a lot of teams that have injuries or dismantle their teams and get new guys.

“You can’t make excuses. You start making excuses and it’s just a crutch. We’re not going to do that.”