Clippers guarantee Derrick Walton Jr.’s contract for remainder of season
The Clippers guaranteed the contract of reserve guard Derrick Walton Jr. for the rest of the season Tuesday, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The move occurred ahead of a league-wide deadline for teams to either waive or keep players on nonguaranteed deals. Walton was the lone Clipper playing on such a contract. The 6-foot guard will now receive the full $1.4 million on his one-year deal, the minimum for players with one year of NBA experience.
By keeping Walton, who has averaged 2.6 points, 1.1 assists and 0.7 rebound in 19 games this season, including one start, the team’s roster remains at the maximum 15 players. Guaranteeing his deal does not preclude the Clippers from opening a roster spot later. The league’s trade deadline is Feb. 6. In such a case, however, Waltonwould still receive the full worth of his deal.
The Clippers are off for four days — good timing for a defense that allowed 272 points combined to Memphis and New York amid a weekend split.
After a four-year career at Michigan, Walton went undrafted in 2017 and played 16 games with Miami the following season. He played overseas last season before joining the Clippers’ Las Vegas Summer League roster in July. He was signed to a training camp deal and quickly became popular in the locker room and trusted by a coaching staff whose roster is short on pure point guards. Walton then made the team as the last man on the 15-man roster in October.
“He’s been in big games in his life,” coach Doc Rivers said in December. “What I like about him is he can make shots. … The one thing he’ll do is shoot the ball, and you need guys who are capable shooters on the floor.”
Walton said his approach to the game is simple.
“I just try, every time that I’m on the court and have the ball, to make the best decision for the group and the team,” Walton said. “If it’s me taking the shot, I take it. If it’s getting somebody else the shot, pretty simple for me.”
New bench marks
Center Montrezl Harrell and guard Lou Williams were part of history in more ways than one Sunday during a 135-132 victory over New York.
Not only were they — together with Paul George — part of the first trio in Clippers history to score 30 or more points in the same game, but Harrell’s 34 points and Williams’ 32 also made them only the third pair of teammates to each score 30-plus off the bench in the same game since 1970-71, when starters and reserves were first tracked.
The performance was also the third consecutive game in which Harrell and Williams have each scored at least 20 points, a streak no bench duo can match since 1970-71.
“It’s pretty cool,” Williams said Sunday, following his NBA-record 200th career game with 20-plus points off the bench. “I don’t know how much more history I can make with Trez. We just keep going.”
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