To celebrate his return to the Clippers, and a contract that will be the most lucrative of his seven-year NBA career, Patrick Beverley poured two glasses of wine Sunday night. One for him, the other for his mother, Lisa.
Less than 14 hours later, he was in an El Segundo gym working out during the first day of practice for the Clippers’ summer league team.
If sweating alongside a roster of strivers hoping for their NBA cup of coffee is not how some might have celebrated a three-year contract worth $40 million, it made perfect sense for Beverley, a fiery guard whose work ethic has kept him in the league.
“Today is Monday, work day,” he told The Times, in his first extended interview since agreeing to return to the Clippers. “Monday, everybody else around the world is working, why not me?”
On a day when the Clippers otherwise remained on edge about their chances of landing top free agent Kawhi Leonard, they smiled broadly when asked about Beverley’s payday. They quickly made note of the detours in his career that have taken him to Ukraine, Greece and, in 2017, a hospital to fix a knee injury that ended his first season with the Clippers.
Beverley, 30, received interest from multiple teams after he averaged 7.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists last season and became the avatar of the tough-nosed Clippers. He was also their most harassing defender, one of their most consistent three-point shooters and an indispensable locker room voice. After such a season, he expected to receive a hefty contract and received interest from multiple teams, including Dallas, the Lakers and Sacramento.
Beverley said he turned down more money elsewhere to stay with the team that offered him the most comfort. Owner Steve Ballmer, coach Doc Rivers, president Lawrence Frank and his assistant coaches and teammates “allow me to be Pat,” Beverley said. “That’s really important for me.”
“My teammates brought me back of course, but it’s all the team,” he said. “I got a bigger offer from Sacramento and I took $9 [million], $10 million less to come here. ...
“It was the right decision. Of course, the human part of you wants to take as much money as you see, but all money isn’t good money. I did what was best for me and my family and I did what was best to stay on a winning team, and I feel like I made the right decision.”
Shortly after Beverley left the team’s temporary practice facility in El Segundo, the Clippers made their second move of free agency by acquiring small forward Maurice Harkless and a 2023 protected first-round draft pick from Miami as part of a four-team trade involving Portland and Philadelphia.
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Harkless gives the Clippers two things they desire — a long-armed, playoff-experienced forward and a contract that allows them to be creative with their roster. Harkless, who has averaged 7.3 points and 3.7 rebounds while shooting 47.6% from the field during seven seasons, is owed $11.5 million in the final year of a deal he signed in 2016.
That expiring contract, in addition to the draft pick, could be valuable should the Clippers pursue trades. Even after taking on Harkless’ salary, they have enough cap space to potentially sign top free-agent target Leonard to a maximum-level contract that would be worth $32.7 million during the first season.
The reigning NBA Finals MVP after leading Toronto to its first championship, Leonard has yet to tip his hand about where he will play next season. The Clippers, Lakers and Raptors all are expected to make their case this week in Los Angeles.
Fresh off making his own free-agency decision, Beverley hoped to recruit Leonard to join him with the Clippers.
“I’m about to text Doc,” he said while leaving the practice facility, “and see if he need me to do any help.”