Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari, the Clippers’ multifaceted forwards, have sown seeds of doubt for opponents trying to defend them.
Is 6-foot-10 Gallinari the power forward and 6-9 Harris the small forward? Or vice-versa?
The reality is that both simply are forwards the Clippers can slide into any spot to provide them with offensive flexibility, and that has confused teams during preseason games.
“Yeah, they are confused on what to do,” Gallinari said late Thursday night after the Clippers wrapped up their preseason with a 5-0 record following a 124-76 victory over Israeli team Maccabi Haifa. “It’s tough to guard. When I’m at the four, they have to find a way to guard me at the four. When I’m at the three, they got to find a way to guard me at the three and it’s the same thing for Tobias. Hopefully every game we’ll get better together.”
Harris has the ballhandling skills to run the offense. He can shoot the three-pointer efficiently, post up, pass and score from all angles on the court. Ditto for Gallinari.
“They are very unselfish,” coach Doc Rivers said. “I would say Tobias takes on the role of scorer more. Gal can score just as well. Gal probably wants to pass more. But they both are effective together. They play off each other. They create switches on their own offensively. It creates problems for other teams.”
Harris and Gallinari are still learning each other’s games. After Harris was acquired from Detroit in January as part of the Blake Griffin trade, he and Gallinari played together in just nine games. Injuries kept Gallinari out of 23 games after the trade and 61 games overall.
“We know what we can do together,” Gallinari said. “It’s tough to play against us. It’s great to play with a guy that knows how to play basketball.
“He knows how to do a lot of stuff on the court. He understands right away what I want. I know what he wants. We know each other pretty well. We’ve been working out together this summer. We know what’s going on.”
Roster cuts loom for the Clippers. They must trim two players to reach the NBA maximum of 15 and the decision must be made by 2 p.m. Monday.
The Clippers have 15 guaranteed contracts. Patrick Beverley’s $5-million contract won’t become guaranteed until Jan. 10, but he’s pegged to be the starting point guard, so he is safe.
About $300,000 of Tyrone Wallace’s $1.349-million contract is guaranteed. Second-year guards Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell are low-salary players at $1.3 million each.
“There will be a good player or two that won’t be with us,” Rivers said. “They are all NBA players. I think every guy on our roster is an NBA player. Unfortunately we have too many of them. So, we’re going to have to make a tough decision.”