Andrew Greif broke several minor stories tonight with his article in the LA Times, and perhaps the most interesting is that the Clippers brought two-way player Amir Coffey to the NBA Orlando restart over 1st round rookie Mfiondu Kabengele.
On the face of it, this is a somewhat surprising choice in terms of the investment that the Clippers made into each player. However, the Orlando restart is not about long-term development. It’s about winning a championship, and the Clippers decided that Coffey might help them more than Kabengele in that regard.
This makes sense. Mfiondu is a high-ceiling prospect, but his defense and decision-making are not ready for the NBA yet, and that essentially makes him unplayable. Furthermore, the Clippers just signed veteran big man Joakim Noah, giving them three centers firmly ahead of Fi. That’s not even counting small-ball big men like Marcus Morris, JaMychal Green, and even Patrick Patterson. There’s just no way that Fi will play outside of garbage time.
Coffey, on the other hand, is both closer to rotation minutes due to positional scarcity, and has fewer harmful qualities as an NBA player. His defense has been promising in limited minutes, and while he’s certainly not going to do too much offensively, he can at least handle the ball a little and make spot-up threes. The Clippers probably won’t need to call on him (and hopefully they don’t have to), but if they do, he’s far more likely than Fi to provide a handful of playable NBA minutes in a pinch.
Ultimately, the Clippers bringing Amir Coffey to Orlando over Fi probably won’t have much an impact either way. While the Clippers are somewhat shorter at wing than they now are at center, there are still many players ahead of Coffey for wing minutes, and it’s unlikely he sees real time. Still, his getting taken to Orlando is a positive sign for how the Clippers view him, and will be a nice boost for his development as an NBA player.