PLAYA VISTA — Terance Mann will join the starting lineup when the Clippers open the regular season next week, answering the oft-asked question of who would be the team’s fifth starter this season.
Mann, a fifth-year player, will line up alongside All-Star wings Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, center Ivica Zubac and point guard Russell Westbrook.
While the others were known starters, the final spot had not been revealed until Friday, when Coach Tyronn Lue made the announcement before practice. Lue chose Mann over veterans Nicolas Batum and Robert Covington. All three had rotated into the starting spot during the team’s four preseason games, concluding with Thursday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Lue said Mann’s versatility made him a natural choice.
“I think being able to guard multiple positions, we can start him on a point guard, where we can put him on Steph (Curry) and Dame (Lillard) and guys like that,” Lue said. “Then we can play him on (Lauri) Markkanen if we have to.
“Just his versatility of being able to guard point guards as well as twos, threes and fours, I think makes the most sense right now. So that’s what we’re going to go with right now.”
In his four seasons with the Clippers, the 6-foot-5 Mann has played point guard, forward and even center at times, fitting Lue’s idea of the new NBA model.
“I don’t really think there’s positions in basketball,” Lue said. “I think just have him on the floor and the sets we run are pretty interchangeable with the one, two, and four anyway, and so he knows the four as well.”
Mann also gives the Clippers a prolific outside scorer, who has shot 38.3% from 3-point range and 50% overall during his four seasons.
“We have confidence in his shot,” Lue said. “I think he shot what 38, 39% from (3-point range) last year? When you’re open, you need to take your shots. That’s what you’re out there for. He’ll be OK with that.”
Batum was supportive of Lue’s decision, saying that teams need young, eager-to-please players if they want to win in this league.
“I got here four years ago, and he kept getting better,” Batum said. “He kept adding more stuff to his game – both offense and defense. He’s very valuable.
“He never cares (about minutes.) He never complains. He just plays the game as a starter, a guard, power forward, comes off the bench. He doesn’t play for a couple of games, he’s coming back. I mean, you call his number and he’s going to come in and play hard anyway.”
Batum recalled one game when he was grateful to have Mann on the team – Game 6 of the 2021 Western Conference semifinals when he saved “your life from nowhere,” scoring a career-high 39 points to help the Clippers overcome a 25-point deficit against Utah and advance to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
“It’s a joy to have a guy like that. You need a guy like that, a guy like T-Mann, because they will do whatever,” Batum said.
HYLAND TO BE RE-EVALUATED
Backup point guard Bones Hyland, who suffered a sprained left ankle attempting a layup in the third quarter of Thursday’s preseason finale, did not practice Friday. He will be re-evaluated in the next “few days,” according to the team.
The Clippers waived Nate Darling and Bryson Williams on Friday and signed free agent rookie Joey Hauser.
Darling played sparingly in the preseason but could end up playing for the Ontario Clippers of the G League.
Williams competed for a roster spot with the Clippers for a second consecutive season. Last year, he played in 23 games with the Ontario Clippers, averaging 7.9 points and 4.5 rebounds.
Hauser, who played at Michigan State, had signed with the Utah Jazz but never played in a game. The Jazz waived Hauser last week.
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