For the third straight year, the Los Angeles Clippers brought a taste of the NBA back to the Hawaiian Islands. The team landed in O‘ahu on Sep. 30, opening up training camp with their first practice the next day. On Wednesday afternoon, the Clippers wrapped up their second practice at the Stan Sheriff Center in preparation for Thursday night’s game.
Los Angeles is set to open their preseason schedule against the Houston Rockets on Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. HST.
The big story line this offseason for the Clippers was the separate acquisitions of OKC star Paul George and reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. George finished as the second leading scorer in the NBA following the 2018-19 season, and was named a finalist for the Kia Defensive Player of the Year award. Leonard, meanwhile, led the Toronto Raptors to their fist franchise NBA Championship, while netting his second career Finals MVP award.
While both made the trip to Hawai‘i, neither are expected to play in Thursday night’s game. Paul George underwent surgeries on both of his shoulders, and is targeting a return in November. Leonard will most likely be held out as well for precautionary reasons. It appears to be a growing trend within the league, as Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook is set to sit out the game as well, according to Brian McInnis of the Star-Advertiser. Meanwhile, James Harden is expected to play a decent amount against the Clippers.
George and Leonard were both limited participants in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, as they were held out of scrimmage but participated in shootaround. Instead, we got a look at the presumed starting unit for Thursday night. Patrick Beverley led the way, along with Landry Shamet and Ivaca Zubac. Rounding out the starting lineup are a pair of newcomers, guard Rodney McGruder and forward Moe Harkless. Lou Williams is again expected to provide a spark off the bench in his sixth man spot.
Following the Rockets clash, the Clippers will resume their training camp before ultimately taking on the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association at the Stan Sheriff Center on Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. HST.