First impressions. Point guard Yogi Ferrell made a great one a couple of weeks ago and it could be a big reason he’s now back in the NBA for good. Well, for a while, at least.
On Thursday, the final day of his 10-day contract, Ferrell and the Los Angeles Clippers reportedly agreed to a deal that will keep him on the roster for the remainder of this season. The contract also includes the 2021-22 season, but that part is non-guaranteed. The deal was reported by several sources including ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Clippers are signing guard Yogi Ferrell for the rest of the season and a non-guarantee on the 2021-2022 season, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 29, 2021
On April 21, only one day into his 10-day stint, Ferrell came off the bench to score eight points and dish out seven assists in a come-from-behind victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. With all five starters sidelined and facing a Memphis defense that generates the third-most turnovers in the league, Ferrell didn’t turn the ball over a single time — particularly impressive given that he played the entire fourth quarter as the primary ballhandler.
“If a guy’s playing well, they deserve to stay on the floor to end the game,” said Clippers head coach Ty Lue when asked about Ferrell’s fourth-quarter minutes. “[Yogi] did a great job, so he earned it.”
Signed Even After Not Much Time to Shine
Since the Grizzlies game, however, Ferrell has played a total of only nine minutes over L.A.’s last three matchups, a circumstance that might normally suggest a short stay. But it’s evident Lue doesn’t feel a compulsion to play guys even when the contract clock is ticking.
Earlier this week, the Clippers signed former perennial All-Star DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins for the remainder of the season following two 10-day contracts, despite the fact that Cousins was a DNP for three of his first five possible games and only played a combined 13 minutes in the other two.
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Similarly, forward Malik Fitts, who the Clippers signed to a 10-day contract on April 9, only played 11 total minutes in six possible games. But unlike Cousins, Fitts was not offered a second contract, his departure making room for the addition of Ferrell, who was brought in to provide backcourt insurance for the Clippers injury-prone backcourt.
Patrick Beverley has missed more than half the season between a sore knee and a broken hand, and 35-year-old Rajon Rondo has been hampered here and there since being acquired via trade at the end of March. Rondo is active, but Beverley is expected to remain sidelined for at least two more weeks.
Undrafted out of Indiana University in 2016, Ferrell tasted his first NBA action in early 2017, playing 10 games for the Brooklyn Nets before being waived and later signed to a 10-day contract by the Dallas Mavericks that February. Ferrell seized the opportunity with Dallas, averaging 17.2 points and five assists over his first five games and compelling the Mavs to sign him to a multi-year deal once his 10 days were up. Ferrell was named Rookie of the Month for February 2017.
His time in Dallas ended when Ferrell signed a two-year, $6.1 million contract with Sacramento in the summer of 2018, but he was by and large ineffective with the Kings and they declined to re-sign him in the summer of 2020. Ferrell played two games for the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this year before being relegated to the G League.
Playoff Seedings Give Remaining Games Extra Meaning
Now that Ferrell is officially here to stay, he may see minutes in L.A.’s pivotal matchup with the Denver Nuggets Friday evening. Even though the Nuggets are led by MVP-favorite Nikola Jokic, they were nonetheless expected to fade from relevance following superstar shooting guard Jamal Murray’s season-ending ACL tear on April 12.
Instead, the Nuggets have won eight of their last nine games and are in a virtual tie with the Clippers for third place in the Western Conference. The Clippers, meanwhile, have dropped their last two and don’t seem likely to overtake the second-place Phoenix Suns before the end of the regular season.
Playoff position in the West is particularly crucial this year given that the defending champion Lakers have dropped to fifth place following injuries to Anthony Davis and LeBron James. But both stars are expected to be healthy for the postseason, meaning the Lakers will be perhaps the most dangerous bottom-half seed in NBA history.
If the season were to end today, the Lakers would face Denver in the first round. But if Denver wins tonight, that first-round hypothetical would flip to the Clippers. Though team chemistry is obviously a concern for the Lakers given their disjointed season, it’s safe to assume that no one wants to see LeBron and AD to start the postseason.
The Clippers and Nuggets are 1-1 against each other this season, with the Nuggets picking up the W in their most recent game on April 1. While the Nuggets of course won’t have Murray tonight, the Clippers are expected to be without Kawhi Leonard, who has missed nine of L.A.’s last 10 games with a sore right foot.
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