The Los Angeles Clippers were widely expected to take a step back this season after losing Chris Paul and J.J. Redick from a roster that won 50 games in five consecutive seasons. Still, things weren’t supposed to be this bad.
The Clippers have lost nine consecutive games and stand at 5-11 on the season, in 13th place in the Western Conference. And on Wednesday, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that point guard Patrick Beverley will miss the rest of the season with a torn meniscus in his right knee. Beverley, whom L.A. acquired in the deal that sent Paul to Houston, missed five games earlier this month with discomfort in his knee before returning to play 22 minutes Monday against the Knicks.
Beverley has never been the type to put up gaudy stats (12.2 points per game this year, 9.4 for his career), but he is known as one of the league’s best defenders and toughest players. In only a short time with the Clippers, he has, in ESPN reporter Zach Lowe’s words, “changed the culture there.” Beyond that, he’s a capable NBA player on a roster with a shortage of those.
Beverley’s injury is particularly devastating given the state of the Clippers’ backcourt. With Paul and Redick gone and Beverley and Serbian rookie Milos Teodosic injured, L.A. is down to Austin Rivers, Lou Williams and Sindavious Thornwell, none of whom makes for an ideal floor general.
Though the Western Conference has been less fierce this year than in the past, the field remains deep, and the Clippers are already in danger of slipping underwater. If they don’t turn things around soon, without Beverley and Teodosic, they may have little choice but to entertain offers for center DeAndre Jordan at the Trade Deadline.
Beverley was supposed to help prolong the Clippers’ relevance. Instead, his injury may help end it.