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CLIPPERS FYI

Clippers soon will face some roster decisions

With the trade deadline barely a month away, and the roster still short of big men because of injuries, the most pressing choice in the near term appears to be whether to bring back Jarron Collins.

January 22, 2011|By Lisa Dillman
  • Clippers center Jarron Collins grabs a rebound as he is fouled by Warriors center Andris Biedrins during a 105-91 victory.
Clippers center Jarron Collins grabs a rebound as he is fouled by Warriors… (Alex Gallardo / Associated…)

What's next for the rarely dull Clippers?

Decisions, of course.

They have a few to make in the coming days and weeks before the Feb. 24 trading deadline. But first up will be the immediate fate of reserve big man Jarron Collins. His 10-day contract, his second with the Clippers, expires Monday.

Collins was the only survivor among the nonroster training camp invitees, played sparingly in the regular season, and ended up getting waived Jan. 3 because of the then-approaching deadline for guaranteeing contracts.

The Clippers, who had won six of eight heading into Saturday night's game against Golden State, have been short on length and big bodies up front because of long-term injuries to Craig Smith, Brian Cook and Chris Kaman.

With Cook returning to the active roster against the Warriors, that may have essentially answered questions about Collins' departing. Cook, out since Dec. 17 because of severely sprained right ankle, was expected to get limited minutes Saturday but didn't play in the first half. He hurt the ankle at Detroit in the final minute.

Neil Olshey, Clippers vice president of basketball operations, planned on talking to Coach Vinny Del Negro about the roster makeup after the game.

"We didn't anticipate carrying 14 guys, never mind 15, and the real question is that if someone is going to be on the inactive list, can you really afford to carry 15 and lock yourself in?" Olshey said Saturday. "When the trade deadline is only three weeks away, it takes your ability to do uneven deals out.

"The other thing is that it doesn't make any sense to carry a guy on the inactive list just to carry a guy. When you do that and you are locked in, two sprained ankles to a couple of guards and you've got to go find a guard, you don't have the roster spot."

The schedule plays into it as well. After Saturday, the Clippers play at home only four more times through the end of February. And they have five back-to-back situations, starting Tuesday-Wednesday at Dallas and Houston.

"With all these road games we have coming up and the amount of travel, and back-to-backs, it's hard to shorten the bench the way we have," Olshey said. "We've had the luxury the last couple of weeks of really playing a short bench."

Said Collins: "I've been non-guaranteed since the beginning, so it's really not that much of an adjustment. . . . That's why you focus on the things you can control, the energy, the work ethic when you come in.

"Whatever happens, happens. I've been very blessed in this business. This is my 10th year officially. I've been very fortunate I've been able to play here in Los Angeles, especially for my hometown team. The team is doing well. But at the end of the day, we all know what's going to happen."

There is no immediate timetable for the return of Kaman or Smith. Neither player appears very close.

"Whatever happens with Jarron, we could bring him back in a week," Olshey said. "There's no big [man] that we like better that is out there. If in a week, we realize we need him back, we bring him back."

Etc.

One of the most pleasant surprises for Olshey has been Ike Digou, who had been patiently biding his time for another shot in the NBA, working out at a South Bay health club.

He signed with the Clippers as a free agent and made his debut with them Dec. 22, and is averaging 6.5 points and 4.2 rebounds.

"Ike is only 27 years old. It wasn't like bringing in a guy for one more contract," Olshey said. "It was a guy that has a chance to rebuild his career. He does a lot of the dirty work that we need. We've got enough flair between Eric [Gordon] and Blake [Griffin] and DJ [DeAndre Jordan] and Baron [Davis]. We've got the icing. We need the nuts and bolts."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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