In his first 10 days with the Clippers, Austin Rivers has given his new team the size, defensive toughness and dribble penetration it wanted.
But it may take a few years for the Clippers to find out just how much they gave up to get him.
Reggie Bullock continued to mostly sit on the Phoenix bench Sunday, stuck at the bottom of the Suns’ depth chart at small forward. The team doesn’t intend for him to stay there forever.
“We see him as another piece we can use going forward with shooting ability,” Suns Coach Jeff Hornacek said of the former first-round draft pick, whose 1 1/2 seasons with the Clippers were beset by injuries. “He’s got good length. He’s a good defender. We see a future for us with him.”
Bullock, 23, said he was happy to join another up-tempo team with a young core. He said he was doing the daily work required to stay ready to play while being mindful he might not receive meaningful minutes until next season.
Touted for his potential as a three-point shooter and defender, Bullock averaged 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds while making 38.5% of his shots from beyond the arc this season in the 25 games he appeared in with the Clippers. He made his Phoenix debut Sunday over the final 2 minutes 31 seconds of the Suns’ 120-100 loss to the Clippers at US Airways Center, missing his only shot and blocking a shot.
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said he still believed in Bullock’s potential despite his meager NBA production.
“He’s had injury problems, so we never really got a chance to see the full Reggie, but he can really shoot and he hasn’t done that great yet, but he will,” Rivers said. “I’m almost guaranteeing that, that he’ll end up being a heck of a shooter in this league.”
Bullock said Doc Rivers told him before he departed Los Angeles that he should fully exert himself on defense, among other things, upon his arrival in Phoenix to make a favorable impression on the Suns.
“He told me I was going to be a great player in this league and it was all about me just going and getting it right now,” Bullock said.
Bullock said Clippers point guard Chris Paul, whom he described as “a big brother” and a mentor, had texted to check on him and didn’t hesitate when asked which former teammate he most wanted to exchange trash talk with Sunday.
“D.J. on the free-throw line,” Bullock said, referring to notoriously poor free-throw shooter DeAndre Jordan. “Anything I can to just get in their mind for my team and help them get a win.”
Well, maybe next time. Jordan made eight of 15 free throws, including seven of 12 after being fouled intentionally in the fourth quarter.