The Clippers walked into Tuesday morning’s practice winners of four consecutive games in January and as close to healthy as they’ve been since Blake Griffin underwent knee surgery. They had Chris Paul back fully recovered from the hamstring strain as well as Austin Rivers, who had been dealing with the flu since Friday’s game in Sacramento.
The only absence was head coach Doc Rivers, who was dealing with an unrelated sickness of his own. However, Rivers’ former player and NBA Champion Kevin Garnett was present and ready to work out with the Clippers. Garnett was last seen working out with the Clippers, specifically Griffin, during training camp in late September.
Fresh out of retirement, Garnett was active in assisting during training camp, and although coach Rivers said it would be great to have him help out with the team, the future Hall-of-Famer didn’t have a specific role. On Tuesday, L.A.’s assistant coach Mike Woodson, who filled in for the sick Rivers’ in the media session, said that the Clippers had now hired Garnett as a consultant and that he would be working out with the big men.
“He’s hired in here as a consultant, so I’m sure he’ll be in and out,” said Woodson on Garnett. “I think when he’s here, it’s important for our bigs to take advantage of him being out here on the floor. He brings so much to the table, it’s not even funny.
“I’m just happy he’s a part of the Clipper family.”
Garnett built up quite the resume in 21 very successful seasons as one of the best power forwards to ever play in the NBA, finishing near the top of numerous regular-season statistical categories.
– 17th all time in points (26,071 points)
– 9th all time in rebounds (14,968 rebounds)
– 47th all time in assists (5,445 assists)
– 17th all time in steals (1,859 steals)
– 17th all time in blocks (2,037 blocks)
In addition to the stats, Garnett also ranks 11th all time in field goals made at 10,505, fifth all time in games played at 1,462, and third all time in minutes played at 50,418 behind only Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The greatness of Garnett is well-documented, and his appearance as well as willingness to help is not something they’re taking for granted.
“KG is going to be a Hall-of-Famer one day and I think all the experience that he’s put out on the basketball floor, if these guys are willing to listen and learn, will benefit them in the long run.
“You gotta take in experience in terms of what KG’s done. I’m happy he’s a part of our family now. Hes always been a part of Doc’s family and I just think as we move forward, its going to help DJ a lot, all of our bigs.”
DeAndre Jordan, who had his struggles in the earlier stages of his career, has developed a far better game around the rim offensively and become a legitimate rim protector. Working out with Garnett is something that could elevate Jordan’s game to the next level on both ends of the floor.
“Amazing, amazing, amazing,” said Jordan on what it’s like working with Garnett. “Besides him cussing me out. We played against each other, and he’s a great spirit and a great basketball mind. I just want to be a student whenever he’s here.”
Garnett knows a thing or two about being a defensive anchor. He was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive team 12 times in his 21-year career and won the Defensive Player of the Year Award for the 2007-08 season, one which ended with his famous “Anything is possible” line after winning his first NBA Championship.
Jordan was drafted by the Clippers in 2008, so Jordan was able to watch Garnett’s best years in the NBA growing up. He adds that a lot of what he does on the court today was taught to him by Garnett.
“Everything,” relayed Jordan on Garnett has taught him about being a defensive anchor. “He’s one of the main reasons I talk so much and talk so load when I’m out on the court. The presence that he has on the game, on both ends of the floor, is something that’s contagious.
“He’s a Hall-of-Fame guy, someone who I looked up to coming up and even playing the game. Any pointers or tips he can give me is great.”
According to Jordan, Garnett’s retirement hasn’t caused him to lose the intensity he was known for having on the court.
“He’s intense. He’s intense, hell yeah. You could tell that he loves the game of basketball. He wants to teach people and he wants you to learn. He wants to give knowledge and I want to receive all of it.”
Coach Woodson, who led the Clippers practice on Tuesday, said he already sees similarities between the Clippers’ big man and the future Hall-of-Famer. A helping hand from Garnett, however, would do wonders to take Jordan’s game to another notch.
“There are some similarities already. From past experience coaching against KG over the years, he’s been able to dominate the game on both ends. From a defensive perspective, blocking shots, rebounding, making sure the other four guys are in their proper rotations. He’s been able to do it all from a defensive standpoint. If he’s had to switch on a smaller guy, he’s been able to maintain and keep that guy in front of him.
“These are things that I think all of our bigs can learn from this young man. he’s been a great piece to our game and it’s nice to have him as a part of the Clipper family.”
Here’s a video from today’s practice.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 11, 2017