Now that the Clippers’ 2020 season has reached its disappointing end, 213Hoops will work through the roster player-by-player for our “Exit Interview” series. Today’s exit interview features two-way player Johnathan Motley.

Basic Information

Height: 6’8

Weight: 230 pounds

Position: Power forward/Center

Years in NBA: 3

Age: 25

Key Stats: 2.2 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists, and 0.2 steals in 3.2 minutes per game across 13 games played on 73.3/100/71.4 shooting splits.

G-League Stats: 24 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.0 blocks in 33 minutes per game across 26 games on 51.8/35.6/75.3 shooting splits.

Contract Status: On the first year of a two-way contract, is out of two-way eligibility (has been on a two-way deal for a total of three seasons).

Expectations

As I wrote back in our check-in on Motley in late June before the NBA returned in the Orlando bubble, expectations were extremely low for Motley. While he’d played in 22 games for the Clippers in the 2019 season, most of those appearances were in garbage time, and with the team now in championship mode, opportunities seemed limited for the Clippers’ two-way player. Motley’s best path to playing time was a trade of Ivica Zubac or Montrezl Harrell, or Zubac regressing – and the opposite happened.

Reality

Motley played just 41 minutes, with none of them coming in the bubble or playoffs. He was firmly out of the rotation the entire season, spending the year in the G-League or planted on the Clippers’ bench. Motley continued to dominate the G-League, putting up truly massive stats, but he’s done that before, and has very little left to prove at that level. Unfortunately, with Zubac taking a step forward, and Harrell proving crucial (in the regular season) off the Clippers’ bench, there were no minutes at center. Nor were there minutes at power forward, with steady veterans like Moe Harkless, Marcus Morris, and JaMychal Green soaking up the minutes there.

So, instead of receiving true NBA rotation minutes for the first time in his career, Motley saw the least amount of action in any of his three seasons in the NBA. It must have been disappointing for him, but there was never any real reason for him to play for the Clippers this year.

Future with Clippers

Motley will probably not return to the Clippers next year. His eligibility for two-way contracts is now up, which means if he is on an NBA roster next year, he will have to be on a “real” deal. Considering that the Clippers have never trusted him enough to play him rotation minutes, it is highly unlikely they will use a full roster spot on him when they will once again have championship aspirations. Ivica Zubac will almost certainly be there as the team’s starting center, and even if Montrezl Harrell leaves in free agency, the Clippers will certainly try to get a veteran reserve to back up Zu. Theoretically Motley could be the 3rd big, but with the Clippers’ 1st round pick in 2019, Mfiondu Kabengele, still on a guaranteed deal and with much more upside, it seems unlikely they’d use another precious roster spot on a deep reserve big man.

If this is it for Motley in a Clippers’ uniform, he will probably join the ranks of Clippers’ young guys from the past decade who will be in “Where Are They Now” type posts in the future. Unfortunately, he had almost no chances to make an impact in a Clippers’ jersey, and his ability to stick in the minds of fans will be correspondingly poor. There’s a chance that Motley sticks around the NBA on another team, but at 25 years old, he’s no longer really a prospect, and has still not shown that he can play defense at the NBA level. Maybe a team takes a flier on his scoring ability, but it’s more likely that he goes to Europe, where he will make more money than in the G-League.

27 Comments

  • lying dog-faced pony soldier lying dog-faced pony soldier says:

    Johnathan Motley: Who’s that again?

    Good story in The Athletic about Kawhi’s first career failure: https://theathletic.com/2084433/2020/09/22/lee-kawhi-leonard-is-about-to-learn-the-role-failure-plays-in-superstardom/?source=weeklyemail

    No one’s perfect, not even Kawhi. (He’s pretty near perfect, though.)

  • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

    Motley will probably end up in camp somewhere next year, but I just can’t see him sticking in the NBA. Where a guy like Trez is bad/lazy on defense, a guy like Motley (and Fi, although Fi still has time where Motley’s two-way clock is expired) is lost on defense. That’s even worse. He’s clearly got a bit of offensive talent, but not nearly enough to make up for the defense.

  • Avatar Alan Ng says:

    When is Doc’s exit interview, which he exits permanently?

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    And the Fakers putting away the Nuggz. SMH. About to be the biggest Heat fan…

    • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

      I’m not even getting my hopes up. I’ve tuned out the NBA completely since Game 7. Not going to torture myself by watching the Lakers cakewalk to an easy ring.

      • Avatar Alan Ng says:

        “Tuned out?”

        No, you haven’t. Lol

        I’ve noticed you ranting on Clippers topbuzz.

        • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

          Yeah, I’m ranting about the Clippers. Not watching the Lakers.

          • Avatar Alan Ng says:

            Well, I still follow basketball only if it’s Clipper related like the podcasts. At least they talk about the future for this team while ignoring what’s going on currently.

    • Avatar John Maclean says:

      Yeah they probably have the best shot with Buckets and Bam matching up with Lebron and AD. Spoelstra is no dummy and if their fruit flies can get loose from deep they could make it interesting. Sure wish the Nuggets could have won two games. sigh….

    • lying dog-faced pony soldier lying dog-faced pony soldier says:

      Go Miami. Though it would be epic to see the Celtics vs. Lakers.

  • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

    The Clippers’ continued silence while the Lakers take care of business is infuriating. They’re not doing ANYTHING to give this fanbase hope during a particularly bleak time to be a Clipper fan. Just a soft, pathetic joke of a franchise that doesn’t care about winning.

    • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

      Lol, what are they supposed to do? Talk shit on Twitter? I can’t remember an eliminated team rallying their fanbase while the playoffs are still going on. Seems a bit unsportsmanlike.

      • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

        “Lol, what are they supposed to do?”

        Fire Doc.

        • Avatar John Maclean says:

          Also seems like there are a few fools out there who would want PG. Still think that short of adding a genius floor general to this team we might as well get what we can for assets and rebuild. Not interested in the 5 seed, another early exit and watching guys bolt in free agency next summer.

          • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

            I’m with you. Sadly, this franchise will just run it back because they’re satisfied with regular season highlights and second-round exits.

  • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

    I seriously don’t get why tf did they stop attacking Jokic in the P&R. It worked on Game 1.
    But they just kept shooting tough jumpers rest of the series and blew a huge lead over and over. Jokic can’t move his feet and stay on the court but this stupid team made him look like the GOAT.

    Miserable low BBIQ basketball team. Really sad.

    • Robert Flom Robert Flom says:

      Was a really poorly coached series even outside of the Trez stuff.

    • Avatar KingAlfonse says:

      This was what was so frustrating. Jokic came back down to earth in a big way vs. the Lakers w/ a coach who actually called plays and made adjustments.

      The Nuggets aren’t really anything special, the Clippers/Doc just absolutely blew it. And there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t have blown it against the Lakers, too, because Vogel actually coaches

      • Avatar mlslaw1 says:

        I watched a lot of the Nuggets/Lakes. Very frustrating how Murray and Milsap looked all world against us and pretty pedestrian vs. Lakes. Murray almost looked like he was thowing the game with his careless turnovers as well as challenging LBJ on Murray’s driving lay up attempts. LBJ got him just about every time yet he still, stupidly, took him on.

        I kept thinking of someone’s here (or elsewhere) statement that the clips only “get up” when they face the Lakes. Even with the crap coaching, we would have been more competitive than Nugs.
        That reality makes our folding that much more insane.

        How bout JMykes “Still can’t figure out how tf we lost?” comment. Coaching change anyone? I’d literally take anyone.

        Over at the denver blog, the fans there are just happy as clams that they made it as far as they did. Loser mentality.

  • Avatar KingAlfonse says:

    Prediction:
    Clips completely run it back, including re-signing Trez and retaining Doc. No moves made beyond crap Vet minimum signings that Doc will refuse to play (seriously, PatPat would’ve been better vs. Jokic than Trez and he can actually provide some offense).

    Clippers make the playoffs as a 3-4 seed, lose in the 2nd round yet again. Paul George and Kawhi walk and we’re stuck w/ absolutely nothing but basketball purgatory for the next decade.

    Thoughts?