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Paul Pierce announces coming season will be his last in NBA

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul Pierce, left, dribble against Milwaukee Bucks' Jabari Parker during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul Pierce, left, dribble against Milwaukee Bucks' Jabari Parker during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Some of the other biggest names of his generation have retired, but Paul Pierce will forge ahead and play one more NBA season.

After a summer of contemplation, the former Kansas star, entering his 19th season in the league, announced Monday on The Players’ Tribune his intentions to play this coming year with the Los Angeles Clippers — and then retire. Pierce’s decision comes in the same offseason that saw such legends as Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Pierce’s former Boston and Brooklyn teammate Kevin Garnett call it quits.

“You know, I’ve played a lot of years in this game. I’ve given this game all I’ve had all my life,” Pierce said in a recorded speech. “And just like any difficult decision that you’ve ever got to make in your life, I think you’ve really got to be at peace with yourself to make a decision like this. I realize that it’s time to move on from the game of basketball. It’s the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life, but this is it. This is my final season.”

As the 10-time all-star indicated on The Players’ Tribune post, Pierce remains hopeful the Clippers — led by younger stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin — can help the soon-to-be 39-year-old be a part of a championship level team in his final go-round through the NBA.

Pierce, of course, won a title with the Celtics in 2008, when he earned NBA Finals MVP honors.

For his career, “The Truth” has averaged 20.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists, while shooting 44.5% from the floor. But his numbers have been on a steady decline since Boston, the team that drafted him 10th overall in 1998, traded him away to start rebuilding.

This past season, Pierce’s first with L.A. after stints with the Nets and Washington, he averaged career lows in minutes (18.1), points (6.1), field goals attempted (5.8), field goals made (2.1), field-goal percentage (36.3%), rebounds (2.7), assists (1.0) and steals (0.5).

“I think I’ve had an illustrious career,” Pierce said in The Players’ Tribune video. “I’m very satisfied with the work that I’ve been able to do over the past 18 years, and I realize that you can’t play forever. You know, this is a young man’s game, and as I get older and not being able to be as efficient and do a lot of the things I do, you know, the signs, you know, they’re there. You can’t reach the goals that you put out there for yourself like you’ve done in the past and it gets harder as you get older and the players get better. And I feel like I have one more opportunity on a great team and something to give on and off the court.”

— Watch Pierce’s entire announcement video below:

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Paul Pierce gives coaching a shot in video feature

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce looks for an open shot against the Orlando Magic during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce looks for an open shot against the Orlando Magic during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Paul Pierce, in his 18 NBA seasons following three years at Kansas, has seen it all in the game of basketball. The 38-year-old forward recently imparted some of his hoops wisdom with a young prep player for a feature on The Players’ Tribune.

Pierce, a contributing editor for the site, met with a high school guard named Oscar Lopez, who plays for a team in Pierce’s “The Truth” AAU program. The two of them broke down video and ran through some drills for a segment called “Scouting Myself.”

Before meeting Lopez for the recurring piece, which in the past has featured NFL players Greg Olsen and Clay Matthews, Pierce explained the origins of his interest in AAU basketball and how his own experiences led to him setting up a program.

“In the AAU circuit, you get to play against all type of players. You know, you’re playing against the best of the best,” Pierce said. “There’s some guys on my AAU team that I still talk to today, because we were able to develop that family atmosphere, and that’s what I want to have in my program.”

In particular, the Los Angeles Clippers forward said he wants to give kids a sense of direction.

“I just want to be somebody who they can come to who has no other agenda for them,” Pierce explained.

After surprising the youngster with a visit, Pierce turned into a coach of sorts, watched some game footage with Lopez and gave him some constructive criticism, while also praising him for his pump fake and balance on a move that led to an open jumper.

The two then went out to the court to work on some drills that Pierce told Lopez would help him in the long run. Among other tips, the veteran recommended the prep take jump shots with a band around his lower legs, forcing him to work on his balance.

The session closed with Pierce providing a pep talk, advising Lopez to focus off the court, as well, with an emphasis on the importance of staying on top of school work and “doing the right things.”

Pierce is reportedly leaning toward returning for a 19th season in the NBA, and has two years remaining on his contract with the Clippers.

None by Ben Bolch

— Watch The Players’ Tribune’s entire “Scouting Myself” video with Pierce below:

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One more year vs. retirement: Decision coming soon for Paul Pierce

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce sits on the bench prior to the team's NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce sits on the bench prior to the team's NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Paul Pierce has experienced just about everything the NBA has to offer in his 18 seasons since leaving Kansas.

In the next few weeks, the 10-time all-star will decide if he is really about that bench life.

This past year with the Los Angeles Clippers, Pierce averaged career lows in minutes (18.1), points (6.1), field goals attempted (5.8), field goals made (2.1), field-goal percentage (36.3%), rebounds (2.7), assists (1.0) and steals (0.5).

Earlier this week, the small forward who earned NBA Finals MVP honors in 2008 with the Celtics told The Boston Globe his most recent season, in which Pierce also started a career-low 38 games, didn’t exactly go as planned.

“I thought I had one more good year [this past season], but obviously I didn’t like how it all went with my role,” Pierce told The Globe. “I’m still just trying to figure it out. A lot has got to do with my role I’m going to play. To come back and sit 82 games, I don’t know if I can do that.”

Injuries to other members of the Clippers pushed Pierce into a fill-in starting role late in the year, but he often didn’t play a starter’s minutes. At 38 years old (Pierce will turn 39 in October, before the start of next season), there is only so much he can bring to the floor in a league filled with world-class athletes in their 20’s.

Plus, at this stage of his playing career, Pierce said offseason training in preparation for the coming 82 games can be just as daunting.

“Really, it’s all about how I feel mentally, getting up and I’m thinking about the grind,” Pierce told The Globe. “People don’t understand, I think a lot of guys retire because of what it takes to each season. You can take the grind once you are in it, but getting ready for the grind is the hard part.”

Whether Pierce decides to go through the process one last time — he said 2016-17 would be his final season should he return — or simply call it a career, a decision is coming soon. The NBA’s 16th leading scorer in history (26,316 points) told The Globe he spoke with former Boston teammate and fellow aging one-time star Kevin Garnett about the pros and cons.

While appearing Thursday on ESPN’s The Jump with Rachel Nichols, Pierce revealed he and his family are taking a vacation in late June, and when they get back he hopes to have an answer to his dilemma.

“I’m gonna take the next three weeks to figure it out,” Pierce said.

Already retired Tracy McGrady jokingly “poured one out” for Pierce’s career during the show and tried to convince Pierce to join the broadcasting game, adding: “Phenomenal career, first-ballot hall of famer.”

Pierce said he is “50-50” right now on which path he’ll take.

“It’s been a long 18 years,” he added.


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Reply 3 comments from Dale Rogers Koolkeithfreeze Jayhawkmarshall

Paul Pierce again contemplating retirement

Since leaving Kansas a year early in 1998 to enter the NBA Draft, Paul Pierce has put together quite the storied career.

A 10-time all-star, and NBA Finals MVP in 2008, Pierce has scored a whopping 26,316 points in the league, good enough for 16th all-time.

But after 18 seasons worth of dagger jumpers, drives to the paint, and-ones, three-pointers and free throws, there is a chance we might have seen the last of Pierce in the NBA.

After Pierce’s postseason with the Los Angeles Clippers came to a close in the first round, “The Truth” told reporters he was “50-50” on whether he should retire or run it back for one more season.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce, left, shoots as Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce, left, shoots as Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Pierce, who will turn 39 during training camp in October if he does decide to return, said in a story on the Clippers’ website he wants to take his time and avoid making an “emotional” decision on his future as a player.

“If I don’t feel that feel, that fire’s not there, then it’s going to be tough,” Pierce said of returning for the second year of his three-season deal with the Clippers.

This offseason contemplation, of course, isn’t new to Pierce, who was a free agent each of the past two summers, during which he decided on returning — first signing in 2014 with Washington, then signing last year with L.A., near his hometown of Inglewood.

“Every heartbreak makes you want to come back,” Pierce said. “That’s the competitive nature of a player. That’s the competitive nature of me.”

As any hall of fame athlete would tell you, though, that fire can’t combat the effects of time. It is up to each individual how he wants to play out the final years of his career.

Pierce, unlike Kobe Bryant, for example, clearly doesn’t mind taking on a minor role as his legs gradually lose that bounce that made him such a dangerous scorer in his heyday with Boston. The 6-foot-7 small forward has served as a complimentary veteran with Brooklyn, the Wizards and Clippers over the past three seasons.

Still, his numbers have steadily declined in that time, as well:

- 13.5 points per game, 45.1% FGs in 2013-14, with the Nets

- 11.9 points per game, 44.7% FGs in 2014-15, with the Wizards

- 6.1 points per game, 36.3% FGs in 2015-16, with the Clippers

If Pierce, a 20.0 points-per-game scorer through 18 years, listens to his body and hears, ‘Hey, man, it’s been real, but I can’t do that 82-game grind again,’ he’ll listen, and call it a career.

However, if the old man thinks he still has more buckets in him, don’t be surprised to see him back in L.A., chipping in when coach Doc Rivers needs him.

The whole wild card in this decision, though, might be the Clippers’ ability to contend for an NBA title. At this point in his career, that’s what’s keeping Pierce around. If the Clippers shake up their core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan this summer, and the roster doesn’t look like it stacks up in the Western Conference, it would be difficult to see Pierce wanting to stick around.

Now, in that scenario, if Pierce wanted to keep playing — just not with L.A. — the good news for him is his relationship with Rivers, president of the Clippers, would likely secure him an affable departure and some sort of transaction that would land him with a title contender elsewhere.

Look out in the days and weeks — possibly months — ahead for Pierce’s decision.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com


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Veteran Paul Pierce goes through new playoff experience

Through the years, NBA veteran Paul Pierce made a name for himself by coming through in the playoffs.

In the 2008 postseason alone, the former Kansas star scored 20-plus points 11 times. Pierce went for 41 points in a series-clinching victory over LeBron James and Cleveland, scored 27 points in the decisive game of the Eastern Conference Finals against Detroit and went on to be named NBA Finals MVP, as Boston defeated the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now in his 18th season, with 159 playoff games behind him, the cagy small forward known as “The Truth” went through a whole new postseason experience in the L.A. Clippers’ Game 2 victory over Portland. For the first time in his illustrious career, Pierce watched an NBA playoff game from the bench, and never checked in.

It almost seems impossible for a player of Pierce’s stature. He has averaged 19.8 points in the playoffs for his career — Pierce even scored 14.6 a game for Washington one year ago. Still, next to his name in the box score it read: DNP-Coach’s Decision.

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul Pierce warms up prior to an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul Pierce warms up prior to an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

This came three days after Pierce played just 11 minutes, made 1 of 2 shots and had an assist in a Game 1 win.

The 38-year-old future hall-of-famer spoke about the unprecedented move with Chris Mannix, for Yahoo’s NBA site, The Vertical.

"It is what it is. It's difficult,” Pierce said. “As a competitor, you want to compete and help your team win. A close game – I've been in those situations lots of times. When you have competed at a high level, it's difficult."

Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who coached Pierce with the Celtics and is well aware of the aging small forward’s ability to come through in the clutch, told The Vertical he almost subbed Pierce in against the Trail Blazers in Game 2.

"A guy like Paul,” Rivers said, “you always want to use him."

Pierce, of course, isn’t nearly as lethal as he used to be. With more than 47,000 minutes on his NBA odometer, no one would expect him to start at this stage of his career and come out and score 30 points.

But he can still play. Earlier this month, Pierce scored 18 points and shot 4-for-5 from 3-point range in a Clippers win at Utah.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlQxQLUaBh8

According to Mannix’s report, Rivers is just having trouble finding minutes for Pierce because the Clippers’ bench unit began to flourish, oddly enough, when Pierce moved into the starting lineup in place of injured Blake Griffin. Once Griffin returned, Rivers didn’t want to hinder the progress of backups Jeff Green, Wesley Johnson, Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers, all of whom had played well, along with former KU big man Cole Aldrich.

Pierce, though more accomplished than all of those role players combined, became the odd man out.

Still, Pierce remains a valuable part of the team. According to The Vertical, all-stars Griffin and Chris Paul trust him and look to him for guidance.

"When I see stuff," Pierce said, "I'm going to talk about it."

Plus, Rivers predicts we haven’t seen the last of Pierce this postseason.

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"He's going to help us," Rivers said. "I have no doubt about that. There's a lot left in him."

But will this, Pierce’s 13th trip to the NBA Playoffs, be his last? He signed a three-year deal with the Clippers last summer, but Pierce has contemplated calling it a career before.

"The last few years it has been an end-of-the-season decision," Pierce told The Vertical. "I'll make that decision after this season, too"

Before that day comes, maybe Pierce will remind the league he still can play the role of playoff hero.


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Reply 3 comments from Humpy Helsel Plasticjhawk The_muser

Cole Aldrich emerges as key contributor for Clippers in playoffs

When the Los Angeles Clippers signed Cole Aldrich in free agency last summer, the move didn’t exactly generate buzz in the NBA, or even among the Clippers’ fan base.

Even when the regular season began this past fall, the non-response seemed appropriate, as Aldrich, a former standout center at Kansas, barely played at all.

Yet, here we are in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs, and the 6-foot-11 reserve has morphed into a critical contributor for the Clippers, who now have a 2-0 series lead against Portland.

According to teammate Blake Griffin, Aldrich’s relentless work ethic turned him into an important cog in L.A.’s rotation.

“He’d be the first guy in here,” Griffin told Rowan Cavner for the Clippers’ website. “Doc (Rivers) challenged him to get into better shape, and he accepted it and it paid off.”

Los Angeles Clippers' Cole Aldrich, bottom, gets the ball against Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard in the second half in Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Sunday, April 17, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 115-95. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Los Angeles Clippers' Cole Aldrich, bottom, gets the ball against Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard in the second half in Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Sunday, April 17, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 115-95. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Early in the season, Aldrich didn’t play in 23 of L.A.’s first 27 games, but he consistently showed up to the Clippers’ practice facility more than two hours early to run on the treadmill, lift weights and work on his game.

“That was just kind of my thing,” Aldrich told the Clippers’ website. “When I was going through that period of time and I wasn’t playing, it was just knowing at some point in time it was going to happen. I had to be in shape and be ready and kind of run with the opportunity.”

According to Aldrich, he has lost 25 pounds since the beginning of his sixth NBA season. That has transformed him into a much more agile defender and finisher in the paint. Wednesday night, in L.A.’s victory over Portland, Aldrich scored 8 points, grabbed 8 boards and blocked 2 shots in just 12 minutes of action.

“Maybe we should write down the Cole diet,” Clippers head coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers said, “because I don’t know what he did. But, he really worked his butt off.”

In Aldrich’s limited minutes he helps the Clippers get defensive stops. According to basketball-reference.com, Aldrich is securing 31.4% of available defensive rebounds and blocking 9% of Portland’s shot attempts when he is on the court.

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“He’s blocking everything that comes in the paint,” said DeAndre Jordan, L.A.’s starting big man. “He’s gobbling up every rebound, he’s running, he’s dunking now, which is nice to see. He definitely helped our second unit out a lot.”

Aldrich, far from ever being mistaken for the most athletic player on the floor, has even been described as “clumsy” in a feature by Shaun Powell for NBA.com.

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Still, his progress and small contributions can’t be ignored.

"He's been outstanding for us, really all season, doing everything asked of him," Rivers told NBA.com.

Just before the playoffs began, Aldrich turned out his best stretch of the season, averaging 9.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.6 steals in 19.4 minutes off the bench, while converting on 75% of his field-goal attempts.

In the midst of the Clippers winning six of their final seven games, Aldrich started at Utah, played 40 minutes and went for 21 points and 18 boards in a road win.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uyl5kvKuBG4

"This has been great for me and hopefully great for the team," Aldrich told NBA.com of his recent success. "My teammates have been very supportive and shown a lot of confidence in me, and I think that's played a huge part in how this season has turned out."

One of the most demanding players in the league, Clippers point guard Chris Paul appreciates what the 27-year-old veteran has brought to the team, as it tries to advance through the playoffs.

“I think Cole is a lot better than a lot of people realize,” Paul told the Clippers’ website.


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Reply 8 comments from David Lara Joe Ross Steve Macy Janet Olin Pius Waldman Titus Canby Dale Rogers Creg Bohrer

Cole Aldrich goes from DNP’s to key bench producer with Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers' Cole Aldrich, left, dunks past Miami Heat's Justise Winslow during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Los Angeles Clippers' Cole Aldrich, left, dunks past Miami Heat's Justise Winslow during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

What has gotten into Cole Aldrich?

The sixth-year big man out of Kansas who spent most of November and December not even checking into games for his new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, has turned into a bit of a force off the bench.

The Clippers’ coach and general manager, Doc Rivers, told the Orange County Register the 6-foot-11, 250-pound Aldrich has helped give L.A.’s bench an identity.

“Cole just knows who he is,” Rivers said. “He has this body, and he uses it. He doesn’t try to beat you athletically; he just gets his body in the right positions. He rolls to the right spot.”

Aldrich is doing more than just providing a large, warm body in the paint. The burly 27-year-old center, who has averaged 3.3 points and 3.5 rebounds while playing for five different franchises in his career, has actually been an effective piece of the Clippers’ offense, too.

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Since Rivers began using Aldrich more, in a 1-point loss to Oklahoma City on Dec. 21, the Clippers are 11-2. In January, Aldrich is averaging 9.4 points and 6.1 rebounds, while making 54% of his shots in just 15.7 minutes an outing.

Aldrich’s recent success obviously has been a direct result of more minutes. But injuries to other Clippers played a part in his prolonged opportunity. All-star forward Blake Griffin hasn’t played since Christmas, due to a quad injury, opening up minutes in Rivers’ rotation.

Still, with the way Aldrich has taken advantage of filling in, it’s hard to see Rivers abandoning his newfound option down low. What’s more, L.A. point guard Chris Paul told the L.A. Times the team’s recent run of injuries should make the Clippers better when they’re fully healthy .

"These guys missing games is giving other guys an opportunity to build their confidence," Paul said, "and that way when they come back it just adds that much more depth to our team."

On Saturday in a loss to Sacramento, Aldrich didn’t look so hot to start the game, missing 6 of his first 7 shots. But he showed Rivers and his teammates something by making his final 7 shot attempts, on his way to 19 points and 10 boards.

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“Well, he had to have it,” Rivers said to the Los Angeles Daily News of Aldrich’s strong finish, “because he missed some, as we did as a team, he missed some pretty point-blank looks, and so he’s been pretty persistent.”

Rivers praised Aldrich for his professionalism, and being ready to contribute to the team after not playing at all in 22 games earlier this season.

“Never stopped working,” the coach added of Aldrich, “actually worked himself into better shape in not playing, which is hard to do. So I think that says a lot about his character.”

Aldrich told the L.A. Daily News he knows how to star in his role, by doing the most with his abilities.

“I mean, I know that my role is to set screens, roll hard,” the backup big man said, “if given the opportunity to make some buckets, make them and then just defend the rim.”

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The Clippers’ veterans love Aldrich’s professionalism. Paul said Aldrich shows up and works hard every day.

“I mean, you couldn’t find anybody on our team that could say something bad about Cole,” Paul said.

Then again, when Aldrich lets his goofy side out, all of his teammates don’t mind telling him what an awful dancer he is.

At least Aldrich owns it. Just like he does his backup role.

None by Cole Aldrich


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Reply 2 comments from Karen Mansfield-Stewart Brett McCabe

Cole Aldrich — 2015-16 season preview

Cole Aldrich of Los Angeles Clippers, second right, shoots over Jeremy Lamb, right, Spencer Hawes, second left, and Marvin Williams, left, of Charlotte Hornets during the NBA Global Games at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Cole Aldrich of Los Angeles Clippers, second right, shoots over Jeremy Lamb, right, Spencer Hawes, second left, and Marvin Williams, left, of Charlotte Hornets during the NBA Global Games at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Hey, is that Cole Aldrich not wearing a New York Knicks uniform?

Why, yes. Yes it is.

The basketball gods smiled upon the former Kansas center this summer — or maybe it was just that Aldrich became a free agent and made a wise decision. Either way, the 6-foot-11 center now can proudly call himself a member of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Built around all-stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers went 56-26 in 2014-15 and had the third-best record in the stacked Western Conference.

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Squad! #LACmediaday

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Aldrich isn’t exactly a big name on a roster that includes fellow ’Hawk in the NBA Paul Pierce, Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, Griffin, Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson, DeAndre Jordan and Paul in its projected rotation.

But it’s easy to see 26-year-old Aldrich, an old-school pivot, having some kind of impact for coach Doc Rivers’ team in a backup capacity. Aldrich is one of only three players on the entire roster taller than 6-foot-10 — the others being stars Griffin (listed at 6-10) and Jordan (6-11).

With the NBA trending toward smaller, less traditional lineups, Rivers doesn’t have to play Aldrich a lot — and he most likely won’t. But when the Clippers need a center or rim-protector type on the floor and Jordan is hurt or in foul trouble or, you know, missing too many free throws (he shot 39.7% at the foul line last season), Aldrich figures to be the Clippers’ guy.

Aldrich only averaged 16.0 minutes a game in New York a season ago, and contributed 5.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. Even if his minutes with L.A. are similar, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an uptick in Aldrich’s production. He’ll be the last player on the floor opponents will worry about, with the talent on the Clippers’ roster. The Knicks’ only star was Carmelo Anthony, and he missed most of last season due to injury.

And with the kind of shots Aldrich takes — almost exclusively of the high-percentage variety — he should be able to cash in when defenses help away, to focus on the more talented Clippers on the floor.

Look at that shot chart (note LA = league average). Almost 83% of the center’s field goal attempts came right around the basket, in the paint, in 2014-15. On the rare occasions he’s on the floor at the same time as point guard Paul, he’ll find scoring will come even easier in the paint.

We don’t yet know exactly how much Rivers will use Aldrich on what looks to be one of the league’s top teams. A mild left ankle injury has limited the big man’s availability in the preseason.

One thing is for sure, though. Aldrich will get to enjoy playing for a winning team, capable of making a deep playoff run. He sure didn’t get to experience that in New York.


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Reply 2 comments from John Boyle Bill McGovern

Cole Aldrich leaves woeful Knicks for contending Clippers

New York Knicks center Cole Aldrich (45) pulls down a rebound as Milwaukee Bucks center Zaza Pachulia (27) defends with New York Knicks forward Quincy Acy (4) getting in on the action in the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

New York Knicks center Cole Aldrich (45) pulls down a rebound as Milwaukee Bucks center Zaza Pachulia (27) defends with New York Knicks forward Quincy Acy (4) getting in on the action in the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Just a few weeks ago, before NBA free agency began, former Kansas standout Cole Aldrich really had no idea which team he might play for in the 2015-16 season.

At the time, re-signing with New York, which finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference (17-65), seemed like a legitimate possibility.

The open market, however, led the 6-foot-11 Aldrich to a much better situation. On Monday, the five-year veteran officially joined his fifth NBA team and signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. The new contract moves Aldrich from one of the worst teams in the league to a franchise that earned the No. 3 seed in the loaded Western Conference.

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The Los Angeles Times’ Ben Bolch reported Aldrich’s two-year contract has a player option for the second year, meaning he can opt out and test free agency next summer if he so desires. The center signed for the veteran’s minimum, and will earn $1.1 million this coming season.

After achieving new career-highs of 5.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 16.6 minutes last season with the woeful Knicks, Aldrich figures to become the Clippers’ backup center, playing behind DeAndre Jordan. L.A. just re-signed Jordan to a max contract after nearly losing him to Dallas in free agency, and the SportsCenter Top-10 regular is one of the faces of the franchise, along with point guard Chris Paul and power forward Blake Griffin.

Even as a substitute, though, Aldrich will get playing time the Clippers. Coach Doc Rivers often is forced to sub out his star center, because Jordan is an atrocious free-throw shooter (41.7% for his career, 39.7% last season). Aldrich made 78.1% of his free throws in 2014-15, which is right at his career mark of 78%. So Rivers won’t have to worry about Aldrich costing the team easy points at the foul line.

Between regular reserve minutes in the rotation and helping L.A. avoid Hack-a-DeAndre situations, Aldrich will get a chance to contribute to one of the West’s top teams, as the Clippers try to contend for an NBA title, along with Golden State, San Antonio, Houston, Memphis and Oklahoma City.

Aldrich became the second Jayhawk to sign with the Clippers this offseason, joining 17-year veteran Paul Pierce.

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The move westward also teams the former KU center with a fellow member of the 2008-09 All-Big 12 Team, Griffin — Oklahoma’s conference player of the year that season.

All-Big 12 first-teamer Cole Aldrich, right, walks off the court with Big 12 Player of the Year Blake Griffin of Oklahoma.

All-Big 12 first-teamer Cole Aldrich, right, walks off the court with Big 12 Player of the Year Blake Griffin of Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

Aldrich’s time at KU made him a lottery pick in 2011. He failed to catch on as a valued contributor with Oklahoma City, Houston or Sacramento in his first three seasons in the league. His past two years with the Knicks — last season in particular — set him up for what will be the most interesting stretch of his career to date.

The 26-year-old Bloomington, Minnesota native took to Twitter to thank the Knicks organization and its supporters for his time there.

“Always have love for you guys,” he wrote.

None by Cole Aldrich

Even so, chasing a championship with the Clippers should increase his on-the-court enjoyment by an incalculable amount.


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