Clippers still coming up short at small forward

A shortage of small forwards. Oh, that … again.

It really never goes away for the Clippers. It was a lingering concern during the exhibition season. In November. And in March.

April too? You get the idea.

Coach Vinny Del Negro sighed when the subject was broached once again Thursday after practice. The Clippers, who play at the Phoenix Suns on Friday, have seven games remaining, five on the road.


One thing Del Negro is considering: shutting small down forward Ryan Gomes for the rest of the season.

“Ryan’s been battling his knee for a couple of months,” Del Negro said. “He’s got some swelling in his knee. Had an MRI last week on it. There’s nothing structurally wrong, but he’s just been battling through it.

“We’re trying to get Al-Farouq [Aminu] some minutes and Jamario [Moon] some minutes and obviously we’ve played Randy [Foye] with the three-guard offense.”

Gomes, who is averaging 7.3 points, went scoreless against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, as did Aminu. The small forwards combined for two points, both coming from Gomes, in Saturday’s win against the Toronto Raptors.


Gomes has been in double figures once in the last 19 games for the Clippers. Aminu is averaging 5.8 points this season.

Del Negro planned on holding additional discussions with Gomes before making a decision.

“I’m going to think about it today. We’ve talked a lot lately and will see where he’s at,” Del Negro said. “I know he’s frustrated with some stuff. We probably relied on him too much. It’s been difficult. He’s not used to starting as much as he has and playing the minutes he has. So that’s been a different situation for him. …

“Being a starter in this league, and being a role player, coming off the bench, is two different responsibilities. You’re playing against top-tier guys instead of second-tier guys.”


The interesting thing is that Del Negro said he would probably start Moon, not Aminu, if Gomes ended up sitting out.

Moon, who was acquired in February from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Baron Davis deal, came off the bench in the game against Dallas and hit a late three-pointer, grabbed four rebounds and showed some energy in 14-plus minutes.

“My guy right now would probably be Jamario,” Del Negro said. “Depending upon matchups, maybe even Randy. You’ve got to put Jamario in areas where he is comfortable. He’s athletic. He’s got some bounce to his game. I’m going to play the guys that are playing well, competing and doing things the right way.”