Leadership Patrick Beverley displayed with Clippers now directed toward Timberwolves
Smiling broadly while discussing the young teammates he hopes to mold and the new contract he hopes to earn, Patrick Beverley couldn’t have looked more comfortable with his new team Monday.
And it wasn’t only because he was wearing silk green-and-blue pajamas, a gift issued by the Minnesota Timberwolves to their travel party ahead of a long flight home.
After facing the Clippers for the first time since they traded him in August, the 33-year-old guard said he has “love” and gratitude for the organization. He came to represent the closest thing to a basketball talisman in L.A. for a roster that perpetually appeared enlivened with Beverley healthy and on the court.
He landed in Minnesota happy to be there, hungry to prove he has more to give as he faces free agency next summer, and without any regrets from four seasons and 208 games with the Clippers.
“Not one,” he said after the Timberwolves’ 128-100 preseason victory at Toyota Arena. “Obviously you want to win at the highest level, meaning championship, but after that it’s just culture change and we did that. We changed the city, we changed the look of the Clippers, we went from pretenders to contenders, and I heard [Clippers guard] Eric Bledsoe say that in an interview and it’s so correct. Do things different. We prepared different when I was there and kind of like to leave a little legacy like that, and fortunately it worked out.”
For Beverley, Monday was a reunion masquerading as a preseason game.
Paul George and Marcus Morris sat out in the Clippers’ 128-100 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday in Ontario.
He spent warmups catching up with top Clippers executive Lawrence Frank and assistant Jeremy Castleberry, among others. Though he did not play, he did everything else — seemingly standing up from his sideline chair more often than even Timberwolves coach Chris Finch. He yelled instructions, needled former teammates and, during a first-quarter break in play, walked toward the Clippers’ huddle and embraced coach Tyronn Lue.
When the Timberwolves’ victory was over, a receiving line met Beverley at midcourt. He hugged Ivica Zubac, Paul George and Marcus Morris, among others, before walking off the court to cheers.
“I’m happy, man,” he said. “[The Timberwolves] embrace me, they allow me to be myself, just like the Clippers, just like the Rockets.”
Beverley’s last act as a Clipper was walking off the Staples Center court during Game 6 of June’s Western Conference fnals after delivering a two-handed shove to the back of Phoenix’s Chris Paul that earned his ejection, plus a one-game suspension for the start of the upcoming season.
Beverley told reporters in Minnesota last month that offseason discussions for a contract extension went nowhere as he was entering the final year of a three-year contract that will pay him $13.3 million this season.
Beverley was coming off a season in which injuries cost him 35 games, nearly half of the schedule. With several expensive and older guards set to return this season, and Reggie Jackson also returning to the backcourt on a two-year, $22-million contract, the Clippers chose to stockpile younger wings in the draft and scour the trade market for guards capable of filling in a team weakness — putting pressure on the rim. Memphis had Bledsoe, and the Clippers sent a package of Beverley, guard Rajon Rondo and center Daniel Oturu. The Grizzlies then dealt Beverley to Minnesota.
The Clippers open training camp on Tuesday and Reggie Jackson was back with his confidence and goggles, ready to build on last season’s successes.
The Clippers’ front office consulted Beverley about four or five days before the trade, he said Monday.
“I didn’t know how it would go down, but they gave me the option of what were my three favorite teams, and Minnesota was definitely top two for sure,” Beverley said.
“I am a businessman first. I like to take care of my family, make sure my family is good the rest of their lives regardless of the situation. Business-wise, this was the best move for me. I am able to have a young team, be the voice in the locker room, kind of lead these guys, critique these guys, and get on them, stay on them, push them, 3-0 preseason. I know it doesn’t count but at the end of the day, winning is still winning. We have been playing some good basketball and am really proud of that.”
Beverley made 41% of his shots and 39% of his three-pointers with the Clippers, averaging 7.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and nearly a steal and block per game, and earned all-league defensive honors in 2020. Frank said in September that trading Beverley was “very, very painful for us.”
“Sometimes the perception is when you trade someone — one, like you were unsatisfied with them, which, no,” Frank said last month. “With Pat, Pat did everything in his power every single day to prepare to play and compete.”
Beverley joined the NBA after playing abroad in Russia, Ukraine and Greece. When he joined Houston in 2013, it was only after Beverley put up the money to buy out his own contract. Finch, Minnesota’s coach, was a Rockets assistant at the time.
“When he came into the league, he had that chip on his shoulder,” Finch said. “That’s kind of been everything that he is about. And he still has it as a vet who’s had quite a bit of success in the league.”
Zubac, the Clippers’ center with whom Beverley had grown close, said it was “definitely weird him cheering for the other guys and talking a little trash to us. … But it was fun, man, it was fun seeing him, we miss him a lot, and I told him this night how it’s going to work in the season, we’re going to beat you guys.”
Beverley envisions it going differently, should his plan succeed. He wants to “leave my DNA, my imprint on the team, and kind of make something out of nothing.”
“I like to always bet on myself,” Beverley added. “And this is another opportunity to bet on myself.”
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