As fate had it, one wrinkle in the Clippers-Nuggets rematch on Christmas night was ironed flat before the game even started.
A calf strain robbed JaMychal Green of an opportunity to face off with his former teammates Friday – and to hear his new coach Michael Malone tell it, the hard-nosed, soft-spoken forward was quite disappointed about it.
“He’s dying that he can’t play tonight,” Malone said in his media availability before the game in Denver, which pitted the Clippers against the team that royally foiled their championship aspirations in the bubble, rallying from a 3-1 series deficit to beat L.A. in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
“This is a game that he really wanted to be a part of,” Malone added. “He can’t make that, obviously, because of the calf strain. But once he gets healthy, we look forward to getting him back on the court and he’s gonna help us in so many areas and we’re excited about that.”
Green signed with the Nuggets in free agency on a two-year, $15 million deal. He played parts of two seasons with the Clippers, averaging 7.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in his tenure with the team.
In that stunning, seven-game series in September against the Nuggets – who’d courted Green the previous free agency, when he opted to return to L.A. to pursue a title – Green averaged 7.1 points and 4.9 rebounds, and he shot 43.8% from 3-point range and 60.6% from the field.
He got a good gander at Denver in the bubble and liked what he saw, he told reporters during his introductory comments as a Nugget a few weeks ago: “Blowing a 3-1 lead, they just fought, they just showed the type of heart they had.”
Malone said he’s admired Green since he was a member of the Memphis Grizzles, for whom he played before being traded to the Clippers. Now, Malone is “thrilled” to have the versatile 6-foot-8 forward on his side.
“I can tell you this: When JaMychal Green decided to join the Denver Nuggets, I was really, really excited,” Malone said. “We had gone after him the year before. He’s somebody that, ever since he was in Memphis, I had long had a tremendous amount of respect for his game, his toughness, his approach.
“And the fact that he decided to join us, I think, was a sign of respect. He wanted to be a part of the team he saw in the Western Conference semifinals when we played head to head.”
Green played 35 preseason minutes with his new team and went 1 for 10 before missing Denver’s regular-season opening overtime loss Wednesday in Sacramento.
JaMychal Green’s full comments:
“Just the way they moved the ball and played together as a team… You can go out there comfortable. Also, blowing the 3-1 lead, they just fought. It just showed you the type of heart they had. It wasn’t a tough decision.”#Nuggets #Clippers pic.twitter.com/LA9p2t8ll9
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) December 1, 2020
MORRIS IS DAY TO DAY
Marcus Morris Sr.’s season debut remains TBD.
The forward is considered “day to day” with right knee soreness, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Friday.
Lue said the veteran forward – who re-signed with the Clippers on a four-year, $64 million deal in free agency – will “continue to just keep getting on the floor and continue to keep rehabbing, but right now just day to day.”
Lue said although Morris has been rehabbing with the sports science department and his recovery is progressing, there remains no timetable for his return to action.