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Simmons Makes the Most of His Chance

October 28, 2003|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

All Bobby Simmons wanted was a chance, and he has made the most of his opportunity with the Clippers, working his way into the rotation.

Cut loose by the Washington Wizards after last season, the third-year small forward signed with the Clippers as a free agent in August, after former Wizard coach Doug Collins recommended him to Clipper Coach Mike Dunleavy.

"Fortunately, Mike Dunleavy saw something in me that really caught his eye," he said. "I'm happy for that because this appears to be a great opportunity for me."

The 6-foot-6 Simmons, who played with Clipper teammate Quentin Richardson at DePaul, continued to draw Dunleavy's attention during training camp and by the final exhibition game, was a starter, if only for one night. With Corey Maggette nursing facial injuries, Simmons filled in and contributed 25 points and 14 rebounds Friday night in an overtime victory over the Golden State Warriors.

"I thought Bobby Simmons' game was huge for us because of just how hard he plays," Dunleavy said. "He's been doing a great job all through camp. He gets in there, bangs the boards, really does the dirty work....

"He gives you great effort. He's a smart defender, rebounds well. He can make open shots. He can make plays. I just think he's a good all-around player."

With the Wizards, though, he mostly sat and watched. Simmons, expected to be back in a reserve role when the Clippers open the season Thursday against the Seattle SuperSonics at Saitama, Japan, averaged fewer than 12 minutes in 66 games over two seasons in Washington. He averaged 3.5 points.

Still, Collins saw potential.

"He said he'd call any team on my behalf," Simmons said, "and fortunately for me he called Mike and told him I was available."

Fortunately for the Clippers too.


The Clippers officially set their opening-night roster, putting Olden Polynice and rookie Josh Moore on the "injured" list along with Glen Rice, who is sidelined because of a hyperextended right knee. Officially, Polynice is suffering from a neck strain, Moore from lower back spasms. Rice, Polynice and Moore all must sit out at least five games.... Melvin Ely did not practice today in Japan and is doubtful for the opener because of a left shoulder injury suffered Friday night.

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