The Clippers have signed Ontario Clippers guard Nate Darling to a two-way contract, the team announced Friday afternoon. This comes just hours after the team waived two-way contract center Moses Brown, who had reached his contract’s 50-game availability cap for the season Thursday night in Phoenix.

The 24-year-old 6’5″ shooting guard went undrafted in the 2020 NBA Draft after playing collegiate basketball for the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Delaware, averaging 21 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists per game on 44.6% FG and 39.9% 3PT in his final NCAA season for Delaware.

Darling signed a two-way contract with the Charlotte Hornets as an undrafted free agent, but spent most of his rookie season on their bench, making just 7 appearances for a total of 26 minutes while also only getting 13 G-League appearances. After that sole season with Charlotte, he joined the Clippers organization in the 2021 off-season and played regularly for the Clippers in the G-League last season, averaging 28 minutes per game in 45 regular season + showcase cup appearances.

This season, Darling has taken another step forward for the Ontario Clippers, averaging 32 minutes, 21 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 turnovers in 39 appearances across both competitions. He’s shooting 46.6% from the field and hitting 41% of his threes on 8.4 attempts per game. While Brandon Boston Jr. typically takes over as the #1 option in his games in Ontario, the majority of the time Darling is leading the way alongside former Clipper Xavier Moon.

The number of NBA appearances players are allowed to make on two-way contracts is pro-rated for deals signed mid-season, meaning that Darling won’t get the full 50-game allowance that Moses Brown used up Thursday night in Phoenix. Instead, he will likely only get 14 games on the active list for LAC (I’m not sure if the NBA will round up his availability to 15 games, but the Clippers won’t need him for 15 nights so it isn’t that important). It’s a bit of an awkward fit with the team’s current developmental core, since Jason Preston (PG), Bones Hyland (PG/SG), Brandon Boston (SG/SF), and Amir Coffey (SG/SF) all seem like they’d get higher priority for garbage time minutes. Still, we could see him a couple of times on back-to-backs, and it’s possible that the team keeps him in the fold past this season.

At just 24 years old, there’s plenty of reason to like Darling’s potential as an off-the-bench high-volume, high-efficiency shooter who, as 213Hoops’ resident Ontario Clippers obsessor Dr. Shap says, “has no conscience.” It’s unclear of Darling’s been signed to a rest-of-season two-way deal or if his deal covers a two-way contract for next season as well (two-way contracts can be for either one or two years, and it’s an extremely underreported detail–we often don’t find out until the guy shows back up for year 2 that he was under contract for another year), but either way one would imagine that he will be in competition for this two-way spot next season. It’s too early to start counting roster spots for next season, but the Clippers also have a late first round pick in the upcoming draft who will be on the 15-man roster unless they make a trade, as well as a 2nd round pick, who will presumably be in competition for a two-way spot as well. Last year’s 2nd round pick, Moussa Diabate, will be hoping to make his way onto the 15-man roster for his sophomore campaign.

Regardless of whether Darling’s contract is just for the rest of this season, or includes next season as well, he would be eligible for restricted free agency upon completion of his deal, meaning that the Clippers were able to leverage Moses’ two-way slot into getting team control over a young shooter who has been in their G-League system the last couple of years.

Lucas Hann

Lucas Hann

Lucas has covered the Clippers since 2011, and has been credentialed by the team since 2014. He co-founded 213Hoops with Robert Flom in January 2020.  He is a graduate of Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA and St. John's University in Queens, NY.  He earned his MA in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University.

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