It was reported today by just about every national and Clippers beat reporter that the Clippers will sign Daniel Theis when he clears waivers after being bought out by the Pacers earlier today.
Theis is a 31 year old veteran big man who has played six seasons in the NBA, primarily for the Celtics. He’s started nearly half of the 314 games he’s appeared in, so has been a fringe starter/key backup role for most of his career. His most prominent major role was in the 2020 (Bubble) season, when he started 17 games for the Celtics’ team that made the Eastern Conference Finals.
Despite being just 6’8, Theis has played center nearly all of his NBA minutes, and at a hefty 245 pounds, is absolutely a center at this stage of his career. He hasn’t played much the past couple NBA seasons due to injury, but was an awesome player for Team Germany in their FIBA World Cup run this past summer.
Across his NBA career, Theis has averaged 7.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.9 blocks in 19.4 minutes – which translates to incredible production across per 36. If there’s one thing Theis struggles with, it’s fouling, as he averages 2.6 fouls in those minutes – but then again, Isaiah Hartenstein is probably the best backup center in the NBA and he is also very foul-prone. Search “War on Theis” for funny Celtics fans comments about how much refs hate Theis by the way.
Honestly, I quite like this signing. Theis is not a great rim protector. And, while he can shoot from three, he’s only a 32.5% shooter on 1.6 attempts per game across his career – below average shooting on low volume. However, despite being undersized, he’s an excellent defender who can stonewall bigger players in the post, force turnovers, and get out onto the perimeter in help situations. On offense, while not a dynamo, he has a nice midrange jumper and is a good passer for a big man who should be a nice fit in short roll situations or dribble hand-offs.
Considering the Clippers are giving up nothing to get him, Theis is a great get. Theis should be a solid backup big man who can give the Clippers some stable size off the bench until Mason Plumlee gets back, at the very least.
In other news, the Clippers are moving forward with the conversion of Josh Primo to a full deal and Xavier Moon to a two-way, which means once Theis is officially signed, the Clippers’ roster will be completely full. This is even more baffling to me than it was when originally announced 10 days ago. Moon is a fun player and a great vibes guy but has zero role on this team – Bones Hyland is out of the rotation right now for god’s sake – and no upside. Primo has upside, but is going to spend the whole year in the G-League anyway. This smacks of the Clippers having made promises to these guys/agents earlier and fulfilling them, because they need another veteran forward much more than Xavier Moon or Primo on a full deal.
Overall, even with the irritation on the Moon and Primo deals, the Theis signing is a big win in my books. Hopefully he’s able to play for the Clippers by early next week, and can help bring balance to their second unit.