Alexander: A gym full of hopefuls, with Ontario and the G-League in mind

first_imgKing, who attempted a similar tryout session put on by the Lakers for their affiliate a few years ago, said that in the tryout format — a few drills and a lot of scrimmaging — the player’s philosophy should be simple: Do what you do best, and be a team guy.“The Clippers have enough guys already who score 25-30 points a game, so they’re not looking for any guys to do that,” he said. “You’ve just got to come out here and play to your strengths, do whatever you have to do to win the game and keep a great attitude.”Players were broken up into teams and took turns scrimmaging on adjacent courts, while the Agua Calientes’ coach, Casey Hill, reffed some of the action and Clippers’ scouts and executives, including president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank, observed closely.“The thing that kind of gets them in the door, in terms of really opening their eyes, is their character and their approach to the game and their professionalism,” said Hill, the son of former NBA coach Bob Hill, who most recently coached the Warriors’ affiliate in Santa Cruz and won a D-League title in 2015.Those players, just by showing up Saturday and paying to play, have already made an impression.“At the end of the day, we all get into this for the love of the game,” Frank said. “And this is as pure as it gets, where people are paying their hard-earned money to try out and get evaluated by our staff.“So we want to give them the total respect they’re giving the game.”Respect is good. For these guys, a callback would be better. Portland star Damian Lillard (knee) to miss Game 5 vs. Lakers Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros HBO’s Hard Knocks updates: Episode 3 with Rams and Chargers Clippers vs. Mavericks Game 5 playoff updates from NBA beat reporters Bottom line: Those 45 hopefuls Saturday, and another group that will try out this coming Saturday at the Clippers’ training facility at Playa Vista, will be competing for a maximum of five spots at the Agua Calientes’ training camp. And there may not be that many spots available.“We’re looking for guys who fit our culture with the L.A. Clippers,” said Dee Brown, the former NBA slam dunk champ who will be the general manager in Ontario. “We want to find guys who can play the game, obviously, at the level we can develop. And the other thing we’re looking for is guys who are great culture guys, who have off-court goals and visions and aspirations.“If we can find one or two of those guys in the tryouts, we’ve done our job. But it’s tough. A lot of guys out here can play. There’s a lot of decisions to be made.”The Ontario club is the Clippers’ first foray into owning and operating their minor league affiliate, as 21 of the NBA’s 30 clubs now do (and as all eventually will, per the league’s intent).Creating the roster will be an interesting process. The Clips-In-Waiting selected the G-League rights to 11 players in an expansion draft in August, and subsequently traded two (both of whom had signed to play in Europe).center_img The Big Clips’ draft night haul, small forward Sindarius Thornwell from South Carolina (acquired from Milwaukee) and point guard Juwan Evans of Oklahoma State (their own pick), could see time in Ontario. The regular G-League draft is Oct. 21, at which time Ontario will add at least four and as many as six additional players.The maximum on a roster is 10 players under G-League contracts. Add NBA players with two-way contracts, players from the NBA camp that can be sent down as affiliate players, players who are on NBA contracts but can be assigned to the G-League, flex assignees from other organizations … you’ll need a spreadsheet to keep up with all of the categories, but once those are factored in the roster size can swell to 17, with a maximum 13 that can dress for a particular game.Among those players hungering for a chance to crack that list is 6-foot-8 Taylor King, 29, a one-time five-star recruit out of Mater Dei who started at Duke, transferred to Villanova and wound up at Concordia Irvine because of off-court issues. As a pro, he has played in Asia, the Middle East, Lithuania, Canada and Great Britain, where he spent last season with the Leicester Riders.Related Articles Kristaps Porzingis ruled out as Clippers, Mavericks set for Game 5; Follow for game updates IRVINE — Not that there was any desperation or anything, but the 45 players in uniform Saturday morning at Irvine Valley College played as though their professional lives depended on it.This is how important it was: They paid, at $175 a pop for those who signed up in advance, to exhibit their skills at a tryout camp. The goal was to find players for the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, the minor league affiliate of the L.A. Clippers in what used to be the D-League, for development, and henceforth will be known as the G-League, for the sponsorship of a particular sports drink.(As an aside: Yes, we know the team is named after and sponsored by the casino located in Rancho Mirage. But can we call them Team Hot Water? And if a player gets in trouble, can we say he’s in muy agua caliente?(No? OK. Never mind.) Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more