On late Tuesday evening, elite media free agent Marc Stein announced that Los Angeles Clippers would be launching their own NBA G-League squad for the 2017-18 season. Their team will be named the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, according to sources close to Stein. The Agua Caliente Clippers would be the 26th squad in the NBAGL where they’ll join the following expansion teams: Lakeland Magic (Orlando Magic), Southaven (Memphis Grizzlies), Appleton (Milwaukee Bucks and Erie Bayhawks (Atlanta Hawks).
That weird team name was due to the LA Clippers reportedly closing in on a deal with Agua Caliente Casino Resort, one of the team’s more noteworthy sponsors at the NBA level, as the title sponsor of the club’s incoming D-League affiliate.
Will it be strange for a G-League squad to be named after a gambling resort? Absolutely. However, this is still a giant step in the right direction for a Clippers squad that might actually be allergic about utilizing young talent. A prime example of that was evident during this past season where rookies Brice Johnson and Diamond Stone played a combined 33 minutes with the Clippers. Alongside that, 2014 1st round pick C.J. Wilcox was basically pushed out of the Clippers organization after playing only 268 minutes during his two years with the team.
Without their own D-League team, those players had to travel hundreds of miles to play with another NBA team’s minor league squad. For example, Stone played nine games with the Salt Lake City Stars where he put up 16.9 points and 8 rebounds per game on 51% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc.
Although the Clippers were probably happy with his production, it came with the unfortunate fact that Stone had to play almost 700 miles away from his big league club.
That situation fortunately won’t happen anymore as their G-League squad will be in Ontario, California, around fifty miles from Los Angeles. The team’s close location would give the Clippers young prospect an ample opportunity to grow within the organization while also getting solid minutes against high quality G-League competition.
Due to Doc Rivers’ inability to utilize young players on the team’s big league squad, those tools could make the difference between a player flaming out like C.J. Wilcox or turning into the next Josh Richardson or Clint Capela.
The announcement of the LA Clippers G-League squad will go down on Monday, May 15th at 12 PM PST at the team’s practice facility. According to the team’s media release, the event will feature G-League president Malcolm Turner and Clippers president of basketball operations and head coach Doc Rivers.