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PLAYA VISTA, Calif. — Bones Hyland said he did “jumping jacks” when he learned he was traded to the LA Clippers from Denver, where he feels he was “never” given the opportunity to showcase his playmaking point guard skills.
The Clippers introduced Hyland, guard Eric Gordon and center Mason Plumlee on Monday. Those three were added at the trade deadline to help Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in their pursuit of a championship.
Hyland is a first-round pick whom the Clippers were high on in the 2021 draft. They’re hoping the second-year guard, at his best, can provide them with scoring punch off the bench in the same fashion that former Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams used to deliver.
While George and Marcus Morris Sr. strongly campaigned Friday for the Clippers to add a veteran playmaking point guard like Russell Westbrook with their open roster spot should he seek and receive a buyout with Utah, the veterans are looking forward to what Hyland can bring.
Hyland, who averaged 12.1 points per game this season before falling out of the Denver rotation, says he is ready to show he can do more than he did in Denver.
“For me, I feel like I never had that opportunity to showcase my playmaking ability,” Hyland said Monday before Clippers practice. “And be able to play that point guard role a lot and show that I’m just more than just a scorer. I’m actually a point guard, you know? And I offer that at a high level and if you put me in that position, I’m going to thrive in that position as well.”
Hyland, 22, repeatedly raved about how thrilled he was to be a Clipper and how positive the energy was here where he feels welcomed.
The Nuggets moved Hyland for two second-round picks in 2024 and 2025. Hyland did not play in his final five games with the Nuggets. The Denver Post reported that Hyland left the Nuggets bench a few minutes into the fourth quarter of a loss to Oklahoma City on Jan. 22, leading to their eventual parting.
“Just a frustrating moment,” Hyland said when asked about the end of his tenure in Denver. “A lot of things that was going on, you know, just try to stay locked then, but it happened. Just moved forward from it.”
During his rookie season, Hyland provided Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray with scoring help off the bench, averaging 10.1 points in 19 minutes per game. Hyland was asked what he learned from playing alongside two All-Star players in Jokic and Murray that he can apply to helping Leonard and George.
Hyland answered by comparing Jokic’s skill set to George’s and Leonard’s.
“PG and [Leonard], I feel like they’re more like scoring and Joker is like passing,” Hyland said. “And then if he has to score, he has to. But, it’s going to be a great experience over here. It was a great experience playing with Joker as well too.
“You know, there’s two guys over here who [are] a phenomenal talent and you know over there, one guy was a phenomenal talent as well. So it’s going to be a great learning curve for me just trying to pick that brain and be a sponge to everything.”
Gordon and Plumlee are veterans also thrilled to be with a contender after playing on rebuilding teams in Houston and Charlotte, respectively.
Gordon, a 15-year veteran, started his career playing three seasons with the Clippers. LA acquired Gordon and three future second-round picks in a three-way deal that sent Luke Kennard to Memphis and John Wall to Houston.
“This was a situation I’ve always wanted to be in and looking forward to,” said Gordon, who averages 13.1 points and 34.7% 3-point shooting this season. “We got a lot of talented guys and I think I kind of fit the mold of how they play and how they do things, and it’s great to be back.”
On how he can help Leonard and George, Gordon added, “I can space the floor for them. And I can create my own shot. And I see that they switch a lot on defense. I’ve been doing that the past seven, eight years. And I guard bigs too. You got to have a two-way mindset playing offense and defense. And I think I’m able to bring that.”
Plumlee fills much-needed depth at center behind Ivica Zubac for the Clippers, who traded point guard Reggie Jackson and a 2028 second-round pick to Charlotte for Plumlee.
“It’s a privilege,” said Plumlee, who is averaging a career-high 12.2 points and 9.7 rebounds this season. “I’ve maybe been on two teams where we even talked about championships, and that’s in 10 years. So to come into this situation, it’s an opportunity. It’s something I don’t take for granted.”
Hyland also isn’t taking this new opportunity with the Clippers for granted. He was hoping the Clippers would draft him back in 2021.
“It’s been the same energy since I’ve been here with the draft [workout],” Hyland said. “As soon as I walked in here, man, you just feel a contagious energy, the positive energy and like the genuine energy. I’m just glad to just be around guys like that, who are welcoming with open arms. It feels good.”
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