The Clippers have added center Moses Brown and guards Xavier Moon and Jay Scrubb to their 2022 training camp roster, the team announced Saturday evening. Just as the Clippers’ Summer League team, featuring Moon and Scrubb, got set to take the floor for their opening game of the Las Vegas Summer League, the team’s official PR twitter announced the three additions to the training camp roster.
Brown is a 7’2″, 22-year-old free agent center with three years of NBA experience who I wrote at length about last night. Moon leveraged three straight MVP awards in the Canadian Elite Basketball League into the starting point guard spot on the Agua Caliente Clippers last season. With the team in need of backcourt depth due to COVID outages and then the Eric Bledsoe trade, he found himself playing relatively well in 10 games for the Clippers last season and earning a two-way contract. However, he’s not a prospect at 27 years old, and seems unlikely to have a path to the opening night roster behind Reggie Jackson, John Wall, and Jason Preston. Jay Scrubb was the 55th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and has been on a two-way contract for the last two years, but has scarcely played NBA or G-League minutes due to two significant injuries. I would guess that Scrubb is also unlikely to have a path to the opening night roster, though his odds might be better than Moon’s since he’s just 21 years old and has NBA size on the wing.
More broadly, these moves are interesting because the Clippers are now officially facing a training camp roster crunch. NBA teams are only allowed to have 15 standard contracts + 2 two-way deals once opening night hits, but during the off-season the limit is raised to 20 contracts of any kind (including exhibit 10 deals and training camp invitations). LAC currently has 14 guaranteed contracts (Jackson, George, Leonard, Morris, Zubac, Wall, Powell, Mann, Batum, Covington, Preston, Kennard, Coffey, and Boston), three exhibit 10 deals (DeVoe, Williamson, and Bean), and three camp invites (Brown, Moon, and Scrubb), making for 20… without including currently unsigned rookie Moussa Diabate, who is a safe bet to be on that 17-player roster on opening night in one capacity or another.
That means that the Clippers have to trim at least one of the 20 guys with a curent deal at some point in order to officially sign Diabate, and frankly, I would expect them to trim two and bring another center into training camp to join the competition to be the team’s insurance big man behind Ivica Zubac. It seems likely that the team will play regular smallball minutes on the second unit throughout the regular season, but that means that the depth big man actually has a pretty important role for a third stringer: any time, over the course of 82 games x 48 minutes, that the team needs a real big and Ivica Zubac is unavailable (fatigue, injury, foul trouble, off night, etc.), that depth big is going to be pressed into duty. Brown has 1300 NBA minutes under his belt, but has been pretty rough, and Diabate is an extremely raw 20-year-old second-round rookie who underwhelmed in his only collegiate season at Michigan. It shouldn’t be a damning criticism of either to say that a championship-caliber team should probably head into the season with a more reliable second-best big man on their roster than a young guy who is more potential than proven.
There is no specific date by which the Clippers have to make any cuts to the current 20-man crew, but one would assume that they’ll want to get Diabate under contract sooner rather than later. The most vulnerable players for cuts certainly seem to be the three exhibit 10 guys, so if I had to guess, I’d say that the Clippers will ride out the next week of Summer League before making any decisions. Once the guys leave Vegas, I’d expect at least one of DeVoe, Williamson, or Bean to get released so the team can sign Diabate (likely to a two-way contract), and if not at the same time, I’d expect a second cut from that trio in the next few weeks as the team identifies another big man to try out for that depth spot.