1980-81 San Diego Clippers Games Played/Started & Transac's

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1980-81 San Diego Clippers Games Played/Started & Transac's

Postby MCT » Mon May 23, 2016 1:48 pm

This is the 20th of a series of threads analyzing games played, games started and transactions for the 1980-81 season. Before reading any further, see the introductory thread below:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4961

SAN DIEGO CLIPPERS – PART I

SEASON OVERVIEW

The Clippers had a 36-46 record. They finished fifth out of six teams in the Pacific Division, and ninth out of twelve teams in the Western Conference overall. The Clippers did not qualify for the playoffs.

The Clippers used 14 different players for the season, three above the minimum. Two additional players were also on the team’s roster during the regular season, but did not appear in any games. One of these players was on their active roster briefly. The other was only on the injured list, not the active roster.

ROSTER AND TRANSACTIONS

OPENING NIGHT ROSTER

Joe Bryant
Michael Brooks
Swen Nater
Ed Odom
Stan Pietkiewicz
Tony Price
Wally Rank
Phil Smith
Brian Taylor
*Bill Walton
Sidney Wicks
Freeman Williams

*placed on injured list 10/8/80

IN-SEASON TRANSACTIONS

In the list below, anything which is underlined is the subject of discrepancies or guesswork, or is the result of further research beyond my usual sources.

10/14/80 – Signed Garfield Heard as a Veteran Free Agent (compensation for Heard, who had been with the Suns, was not immediately settled); waived Ed Odom.

10/28/80 – Waived Stan Pietkiewicz; signed Henry Bibby as a free agent.

11/2/80 – Waived Tony Price; signed Ron Davis as a free agent.

1/9/81 – Placed Wally Rank on the injured list; signed Jerome Whitehead to a 10-day contract.

1/19/81 – Signed Jerome Whitehead to a second 10-day contract.

1/28/81 – Activated Wally Rank from the injured list; waived Sidney Wicks.

1/29/81 – Signed Jerome Whitehead to a contract for the remainder of the season.

2/3/81 – Sent two draft picks (a 1981 3rd round pick, and a conditional future 2nd or 3rd round pick) to the Suns as compensation for the earlier signing of Garfield Heard as a Veteran Free Agent.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

Bill Walton:

Walton was placed on the IL on 10/8/80, two days before the start of the regular season. This was in the transactions column in the following day’s Globe, and is also in numerous other newspapers in the Google News Archive. Walton, who had missed most of the previous two seasons due to injury, would spend the entire 1980-81 season on IL.

Ed Odom:

Odom was on the Clippers’ active roster for the first two games of the regular season, then was waived to make room for Garfield Heard. He did not appear in either of the games the Clippers played while he was on the roster. When I began working on this project, I was unaware that Odom had ever been on the Clippers’ regular season roster. Because Odom never appeared in an NBA game, he never appeared in an NBA Register, and he doesn’t have a page on b-r.com. Odom being waived by the Clippers isn’t on pst.com, and didn’t appear in the Globe transactions column.

Even though he never appeared in a regular season game, the Clippers Media Guide includes Odom in its all-time player register section, with the notation “Did not play – waived two games into the season”. The media guide states that Odom was waived on 10/15/80, the day after Heard was signed. That timing isn’t implausible. As discussed in previous installments, it appears that at this time teams didn’t need to make room for a newly acquired player until their next game, and the Clippers didn’t play on either 10/14 or 10/15 (their next game was on 10/17). But the sole newspaper article I was able to find in the Google News Archive that mentions Odom being waived, an AP wire service story on the Clippers’ signing of Heard that ran in the 10/15/80 Kingman (Ariz.) Daily Miner, reports that Odom was waived “Tuesday”, which would be 10/14. Since we have documentation of that date from a contemporary media source, I’m going with 10/14.

Stan Pietkiewicz:

It is well-documented from numerous sources that the Clippers waived Pietkiewicz on 10/28/80, when they signed Henry Bibby. There is one oddity I want to make note of, however. b-r.com shows Pietkiewicz being waived on that date not by the Clippers, but by the Mavericks. This is obviously wrong. Pietkiewicz played for the Mavericks later in the 1980-81 season, and whoever wrote up the transactions for b-r.com must have gotten the teams mixed up.

Tony Price and Ron Davis:

In early November, the Clippers waived Price and filled the roster spot by signing Davis. Most standard reference sources – NBA Register, b-r.com, pst.com, Clippers Media Guide – show the date of these transactions as 11/4/80. (As is often the case, it’s possible that the NBA Register is really the only source here, and all of the others used the Register as their ultimate source.) The Globe reported these moves in its transactions column on 11/3, however, suggesting that they happened on 11/2/80. Several other newspapers in the Google News Archive have the same. Based on this, I’m going with 11/2 as the date. The Clippers didn’t play any games on 11/2 or 11/3, so which date is correct wouldn’t have any impact on any games on those dates.

Jerome Whitehead and Wally Rank:

Whitehead signed with the Clippers on 1/9/81. Most standard reference sources – NBA Register, b-r.com, pst.com, Clippers Media Guide – show Whitehead signing outright with the Clippers on that date, with no mention of it being a 10-day contract. The transactions column in the following day’s Globe reports it as a 10-day contract, however. I could not find any articles in the Google News Archive reporting on Whitehead’s signing, but the Archives does have a brief game report on the 1/11 Clippers-Kings game in the following day’s Milwaukee Journal which mentions Whitehead and states that he was “with the Clippers on a 10-day contract basis”. Whitehead would have been of special interest to Journal readers because he had played college basketball locally at Marquette. The sentence in the game report referencing Whitehead notes that he was a Marquette product.

For the Clippers to have signed Whitehead to a 10-day contract, they must have placed another player on the injured list. I have no documentation of such a transaction, but by all appearances that player was Wally Rank. Rank does not appear in any TSN box scores between 1/4/81 and 2/4/81, and I have documentation that he was activated from the IL on 1/28/81 when Sidney Wicks was waived (both moves appeared in the transactions column in the following day’s Globe). Against that backdrop, Rank being placed on the injured list around the time Whitehead was signed on 1/9 makes perfect sense. In addition, based on which names appear in the TSN box scores, no player on the Clippers’ roster other than Rank could have been on the injured list during the month of January. Players placed on the IL were required to miss five games, and no other player was ever absent from that many box scores in a row.

It is obvious that Whitehead remained with the Clippers more-or-less continuously for the rest of the season, because he appeared in every game from 1/9 onward except for one. For this to be true, he must have signed one or more additional contracts with the team (e.g., a second 10-day deal; a contract for the remainder of the season; a longer-term regular free agent contract). I have no documentation of Whitehead signing any such contracts, however. There was nothing in the Globe transactions column, and I can’t find anything in the Google News Archive. So however I write this up, it’s just going to be a guess. Lacking any better information, I am assuming that Whitehead signed a second 10-day contract about ten days after the first one, then signed a contract for the remainder of the season about ten days after that. When Whitehead’s initial 10-day contract expired, the team was still facing a situation where they wouldn’t have a roster spot for him once Rank returned from the IL, so I’d be surprised if they offered Whitehead anything longer than 10 days at that point. By the time Whitehead’s second 10-day contract would have expired, the Clippers had activated Rank and waived Sidney Wicks, opening up a slot for Whitehead to stay with the team. The contract Whitehead signed at that point could have been for the remainder of the season, or it could have been a regular free agent contract for a longer term. The former seems more likely, but the latter isn’t implausible, especially as Whitehead would be back with the Clippers in 1981-82.

As we’ve discussed in previous installments in this series, whenever a player who initially joined a team on a 10-day deal stuck around for longer than that, the NBA Register typically showed the player signing outright on the date of his initial signing, with no mention of it being a 10-day deal or of any subsequent contracts. That is undoubtedly why the Register handles Whitehead’s tenure with the Clippers this year the way it does, and it shouldn’t be read as inconsistent with other sources that show him starting out on a 10-day contract. The other sources that show the same thing the Register does – b-r.com, pst.com, the Clippers Media Guide – likely used the Register as their ultimate source.

(A very strange coincidence: on the same page as the Milwaukee Journal game story referenced above, mentioning that Whitehead was playing under a 10-day contract at that point, there is an ad for a local Buick dealership. The ad includes a picture of the dealership’s president, with his name next to the picture. His name? Wally Rank.)

Garfield Heard compensation:

The transactions column in the 2/4/81 Globe has a detailed description of the picks the Suns were to receive from the Clippers in the compensation package for Heard. The Google News Archive also has a detailed AP wire service story covering the transaction in the 2/4/81 Reading (Pa.) Eagle and Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. The 1981 3rd round pick was to be the lower of the two 3rd round picks the Clippers had that year (their own and Chicago’s). The round and year of the second pick depended on whether Heard was still in the NBA during the 1981-82 season. If Heard was on any team’s roster in 1981-82 (it didn’t have to be with the Clippers), it was to be a 2nd round pick; if not, it was to be a 3rd round pick. If it was a 2nd round pick, it would be in 1987; if it was a 3rd round pick, it would be in 1983. Because 1980-81 turned out to be Heard’s last season in the NBA, the Suns ultimately received a 1983 3rd round pick.

The difference in which year the Suns would get the pick, depending on which round it was in, is probably due to the Clippers having already traded their 2nd round picks in 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1985. The Clippers were presumably trying to avoid getting into a situation where they had traded their 2nd round pick every year (or almost every year) for several years into the future. Their next available 2nd round pick was in 1984, but sending that pick to the Suns would leave them with no 2nd round picks for the next five years. Their next available pick after ’84 was in 1986, but sending that one to the Suns would have left them with one 2nd round pick in the next six years. Putting up the 1987 pick gave them a bit more breathing room.

GAMES STARTED INFO

MEDIA GUIDE

As far as I can see, the 2015-16 Clippers Media Guide has no historical games started information for the 1980-81 season. In the history section, games started information only goes back as far as the 2001-02 season. So for the 1980-81 Clippers, we will need to rely solely on the TSN box scores.

TSN BOX SCORES

All but three of the TSN box scores for the 1980-81 Clippers appear to list the players in “starters first” F-F-C-G-G order. The three exceptions were games on 11/20/80, 1/16/81, and 1/24/81.

--In the 11/20/80 box score, the Clippers players are clearly listed in alphabetical order.

--In the 1/16/81 box score, the first five players listed look like the expected starters, but with a couple out of order (Taylor is shown in the C slot, Nater in a G slot).

---In the 1/24/81 box score, the first five players listed look like the expected starters, but with a couple out of order (Smith is shown in the C slot, Nater in a G slot).

The TSN box scores show that the Clippers used the same starting lineup in the games immediately before and after the game on 11/20. I am going to assume that those five players also started the game on 11/20. The TSN boxes show four of the five starting at least the previous ten games, and at least the next nine games, so there seems no reason to think these players wouldn’t have started on 11/20 (Brooks, Nater, Smith, Taylor). In the fifth slot, the TSN box scores show Garfield Heard replacing Joe Bryant in the starting lineup in the last game before 11/20, and starting the next four games after 11/20.

For the games on 1/16 and 1/24, I am assuming that the first five players listed are the starters, at their usual positions. As with the game on 11/20, four of these five players were in the middle of a lengthy period where they started every other game, so there seems no reason to think they wouldn’t have started on both 1/16 and 1/24 (Bryant, Nater, Smith, Taylor). In the fifth slot, the TSN box scores show Sidney Wicks starting the last three games before 1/16, have him in a starters’ slot on 1/16, and show him starting the next three games after 1/16 (ending with the game immediately before the one on 1/24). Wicks couldn’t have started the game on 1/24, because he didn’t play in it (he would be waived a few days later, without appearing in any further games); Michael Brooks is shown in this slot instead. Brooks is then shown starting almost every other game for the remainder of the season. Against that backdrop, it would make sense that Wicks started on 1/16 and Brooks on 1/24.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

From the TSN box scores, after making the assumptions discussed above, I am getting the following games started totals for the season:

Nater 81
Taylor 79
Smith 68
Brooks 67
Bryant 59
Wicks 31
Williams 17
Heard 7
Davis 1

As with the other teams for which we have no media guide numbers, I’m pretty confident that the games started numbers I’m coming up with are at least good estimates. But there are a few anomalies in the TSN boxes that I wish I had a media guide to square up with. Why would Sidney Wicks have started at center instead of Swen Nater on 10/29/80, Ron Davis at forward instead of Michael Brooks on 2/28/81, or Freeman Williams at guard instead of Brian Taylor on 3/8/81? Are my assumptions as to who started on 11/20, 1/16 and 1/24 correct? Without media guide numbers to compare to, it’s hard to hold my games started numbers out as exact.
Last edited by MCT on Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:25 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 San Diego Clippers Games Played/Started & Transa

Postby MCT » Mon May 23, 2016 1:54 pm

SAN DIEGO CLIPPERS – PART II

PLAYER INFORMATION

Players are listed based on a snapshot as of late February.

SWEN NATER

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1973. Acquired in trade with Bucks, June 1977.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 34.3 MPG): Nater appeared in every game the Clippers played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 81): The TSN box scores show Nater starting every game but one, which was on 10/29/80. Sidney Wicks is shown starting at center instead. Why Nater wouldn’t have started that game is not clear to me, as he did play in it.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

PHIL SMITH

History: 2nd round pick of Warriors in 1974. Acquired in trade with Warriors, August 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 76 G, 31.3 MPG): The six games in which Smith did not appear were six consecutive games from 12/9/80 through 12/18/80.

Games Started (Regular Season: 68): The eight games the TSN box scores show Smith playing in but not starting were eight consecutive games from 12/20/80 through 1/6/81. These games immediately followed the six games Smith didn’t play in; between games he is shown not playing in and games he is shown playing in but not starting, Smith is absent from the starting lineup in the TSN box scores for 14 consecutive games from 12/9 to 1/6. The TSN boxes show Freeman Williams starting all of these games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career.

MICHAEL BROOKS

History: 1st round pick of Clippers in 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 30.2 MPG): Brooks appeared in every game the Clippers played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 67): The 15 games the TSN box scores show Brooks not starting were the first seven games of the season (through 10/25), seven consecutive games from 1/9/81 through 1/22/81, and a single game on 2/28/81.

Based on the TSN box scores, Brooks began the season on the bench, with Joe Bryant and Sidney Wicks holding down the two starting forward slots. Brooks then replaced Wicks in the starting lineup beginning with the 8th game of the season. Bryant was later displaced by Garfield Heard, then by Wicks, before taking the starting job back in early January. A few games later, Wicks returned to the starting lineup, this time by displacing Brooks. After seven games, however, Brooks re-took the starting job, this time for good. The TSN box scores show Ron Davis starting the game on 2/28 in place of Brooks; why this would have been the case is unclear to me, as Brooks did play in this game.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career.

JOE BRYANT

History: 1st round pick of Warriors in 1975. Acquired in trade with 76ers, October 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 28.8 MPG): Bryant appeared in every game the Clippers played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 59): The TSN box scores show Bryant starting the first 18 games of the season (through 11/15/80), and the last 41 games of the season (from 1/4/81 on). In between, he came off the bench, with the starting role he otherwise occupied filled first briefly by Garfield Heard, then for a longer period by Sidney Wicks.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position is shown as PF for first six seasons in NBA, through 1980-81 (with 76ers and Clippers), then SF for his last two seasons (with Rockets).

BRIAN TAYLOR

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1972. Signed as Veteran Free Agent, February 1979 (compensation owed to Nuggets).

Games Played (Regular Season 80 G, 28.9 MPG): The two games in which Taylor did not appear were two consecutive games on 10/24/80 & 10/25/80.

Games Started (Regular Season: 79): The only game the TSN box scores show Taylor playing in but not starting was on 3/8/81. Freeman Williams is shown starting in Taylor’s place. Why Taylor wouldn’t have started that game is not clear to me.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

FREEMAN WILLIAMS

History: 1st round pick of Celtics in 1978; rights transferred to Clippers shortly after draft in transaction associated with “franchise swap” between owners of Celtics and Braves/Clippers franchises.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 24.1 MPG): Williams appeared in every game the Clippers played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 17): The 17 games the TSN box scores show Williams starting were two consecutive games on 10/24/80 & 10/25/80, 14 consecutive games from 12/9/80 through 1/6/81, and a single game on 3/8/81. The two games in October were games in which regular starting guard Brian Taylor did not play. The 14 games in December and January were in place of the Clippers’ other starting guard, Phil Smith, who didn’t play in the first six games in that stretch, then came off the bench for the next eight. The TSN box scores show Williams starting the game on 3/8 in place of Taylor; why this would have been the case is unclear to me, as Taylor did play in this game.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career.

GARFIELD HEARD

History: 3rd round pick of Sonics in 1970. Signed as Veteran Free Agent, October 1980 (compensation owed to Suns).

Heard did not start the season with the Clippers. After playing for the Suns in 1979-80, he became a Veteran Free Agent at the end of the season, and remained unsigned into the beginning of the 1980-81 season. The Clippers signed Heard on 10/18/80, two games into the season, waiving rookie Ed Odom to make room on the roster. They would later send two future draft picks to the Suns as compensation for Heard.

Games Played (Regular Season 78 G, 20.9 MPG): Heard is credited with appearing in 78 regular season games, but I only noted him in 77 TSN box scores. The five TSN box scores from which Heard is missing are the first two games of the season (10/10/80 & 10/11/80; Heard had not yet signed when these two games were played, so he can’t possibly have played in them), two consecutive games on 11/28/80 & 11/30/80, and 2/20/81. b-r.com’s game log feature also shows Heard in only 77 box scores. It is possible that Heard was omitted from one box score in which he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score.

Games Started (Regular Season: 7): The seven games the TSN box scores show Heard starting were six consecutive games from 11/1/80 through 11/26/80, and an additional game on 1/1/81. The six-game stretch in November represents a period when Heard was inserted into the starting lineup for a time, replacing Joe Bryant, and playing opposite Michael Brooks. After six games, the Clippers in turn replaced Heard with Sidney Wicks. The game on 1/1 was a game in which Wicks did not play.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.

HENRY BIBBY

History: 4th round pick of Knicks in 1972. Signed as a free agent, October 1980.

Bibby did not start the season with the Clippers. He was signed on 10/28/80, seven games into the season. To make room on the roster, the Clippers waived Stan Pietkiewicz.

Games Played (Regular Season 73 G, 15.2 MPG): When Bibby signed with the Clippers, they had 75 games remaining in the regular season. Bibby appeared in all of those games except for two, which were on 3/13/81 and 3/22/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The TSN box scores do not show Bibby starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

JEROME WHITEHEAD

History: 2nd round pick of Braves in 1978. Signed to a 10-day contract, January 1981.

The Clippers were the third of three NBA teams Whitehead played for in 1980-81. He started the season with the Mavericks, was traded to the Cavaliers, then waived in November. The Clippers signed Whitehead on 1/9/81, initially to a 10-day contract. As discussed earlier, there is a gap in Whitehead’s transaction chronology following his initial 10-day contract, but it’s clear that he stayed with the Clippers more-or-less continuously for the remainder of the season. The Clippers appear to have initially signed Whitehead because Wally Rank was on the injured list. When Rank returned from the injured list, the Clippers kept Whitehead and cut Sidney Wicks instead.

Games Played (Regular Season 38 G, 14.8 MPG): When Whitehead initially signed with the Clippers, they had 39 games remaining in the regular season. Whitehead appeared in all of those games except for one, which was on 3/22/81. Including the 7 games he had previously appeared in with the Mavericks, and another 3 with the Cavaliers, Whitehead played in a total of 48 games for the year.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The TSN box scores do not show Whitehead starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

RON DAVIS

History: 5th round pick of Hawks in 1976. Signed as a free agent, November 1980.

Davis did not start the season with the Clippers. As discussed earlier, there is a discrepancy between sources as to the exact date he was signed, but it appears to have been on 11/2/80. To make room on the roster, the Clippers waived Tony Price.

Games Played (Regular Season 64 G, 12.8 MPG): When Davis signed with the Clippers, they had 72 games remaining in the regular season. Davis appeared in 64 of these games. The eight games after 11/2 that Davis did not play in were on 11/4/80 (Davis’ first game on the roster), 12/4/80, 12/10/80, 12/14/80, two consecutive games on 1/9/81 & 1/11/81, 1/22/81 and 3/15/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 1): The TSN box scores show Davis starting the game on 2/28/81 in place of regular starting forward Michael Brooks. Why this would have been the case is unclear to me, as Brooks did play in this game.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career. Note that even though Davis’ position in the header is listed as “Guard-Forward”, his primary position for each individual season of his career is shown as SF.

WALLY RANK

History: 5th round pick of Clippers in 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 25 G, 6.1 MPG): Rank is credited with appearing in 25 regular season games, but I only noted him in 24 TSN box scores. b-r.com’s game log feature also shows Rank in only 24 box scores. It is possible that Rank was omitted from one box score in which he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score. I’m not going to list out exactly which box scores Rank appears in and which he doesn’t, but some patterns are apparent:

--Rank appears in the TSN box scores for 10 of the Clippers’ first 21 games, through 11/21/80. After this, he is absent from the next 15 box scores, going a full month before he appears in a TSN box score again. This may have been due to injury, but if it was, the Clippers apparently didn’t put Rank on the injured list, instead just playing shorthanded.

--Rank then appears in the TSN box scores for 4 games in a 6-game stretch, from 12/21/80 to 1/4/81. After this, he is again absent from the TSN box scores for a full month (a period which includes the All-Star break), a stretch of 12 games. For much of this period, from approximately 1/9/81 to 1/28/81, Rank is believed to have been on the injured list, while the Clippers signed Jerome Whitehead as a fill-in. When Rank returned to action, the team would keep both Rank and Whitehead, making room by waiving Sidney Wicks instead.

--Rank makes his reappearance in a TSN box score for the game on 2/4/81, the second game after the All-Star break. At that point, the Clippers had 28 games remaining in the season. Rank appears in the TSN box scores for 10 of them. Beginning with the game on 2/4, Rank appears in the TSN box scores for six out of nine games, then just two out of the next seventeen, before finishing the season by appearing in the TSN box scores for the final two games.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The TSN box scores do not show Rank starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SF; this is the only season that Rank played in the NBA.

INJURED LIST:

BILL WALTON

History: 1st round pick of Blazers in 1974. Signed as Veteran Free Agent, May 1979 (compensation owed to Blazers).

Walton had missed most of the previous two seasons due to foot problems. According to articles in the Google News Archive, Walton played in the Clippers’ first few preseason games before his feet began acting up again. He was formally placed on the injured list on 10/8/80, two days before the start of the regular season. Articles written at that point indicate that the Clippers didn’t know how long Walton would be out – he wasn’t yet written off for the year – but he would ultimately spend the entire season on IL.

Games Played: Walton was on the injured list all season, and did not appear in any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

NO LONGER WITH TEAM:

SIDNEY WICKS

History: 1st round pick of Blazers in 1971. Acquired as part of transaction associated with “franchise swap” between owners of Celtics and Braves/Clippers franchises, August 1978.

Wicks started the season with the Clippers, but was waived on 1/28/81. At the time, Wally Rank was on the injured list, and Jerome Whitehead had been signed to a 10-day contract to fill in for Rank. When Rank was activated, the Clippers kept Whitehead and instead waived Wicks.

Games Played (Regular Season 49 G, 22.1 MPG): Wicks appeared in 49 of the first 50 games of the season (all games through 1/22/81, except for 1/1/81). He was absent from the next two games, then was waived on 1/28.

Games Started (Regular Season: 31): The TSN box scores show Wicks starting the first seven games of the season (through 10/25), at forward; the game on 10/29/80, at center; and 23 of the 26 games from 11/28/80 through 1/22/81, at forward. Further details, based on the TSN box scores:

--Wicks began the season starting at forward, alongside Joe Bryant. Eight games into the season, on 10/28, rookie Michael Brooks displaced Wicks from this role. For the next month or so, Wicks mostly came off the bench. The TSN box scores show him starting one game at center on 10/29, in place of regular starter Swen Nater. Why this would have been the case is unclear to me, as Nater did play in that game.

--During the period when Wicks was coming off the bench, Bryant was displaced from the starting lineup by Garfield Heard. Six games later, on 11/28, Wicks replaced Heard. The end result is that Wicks was now starting at forward opposite Brooks. Wicks started 15 consecutive games from 11/28 through 12/30, did not play in the next game on 1/1 (Heard started instead), then returned to start the following game on 1/3.

--For the next game on 1/4, Bryant took back the starting job, and Wicks went to the bench. Wicks came off the bench again in the following game, on 1/6. For the next game after that (1/9), Wicks returned to the starting lineup, this time displacing Brooks, and starting alongside Bryant. Wicks started seven consecutive games from 1/9 through 1/22. The game on 1/22 was the last game Wicks played in. Brooks subsequently moved back into the starting role.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.

TONY PRICE

History: 2nd round pick of Pistons in 1979. Signed as a free agent, May 1980. (Note: Price had been cut by the Pistons in training camp in 1979, so even though he had come out of college a year earlier, he had no regular-season NBA experience prior to this season.)

Price started the season with the Clippers, but was waived in early November. As discussed earlier, there is a discrepancy between sources as to the exact date he was waived, but it appears to have been on 11/2/80. The Clippers filled the roster spot by signing Ron Davis. The five games Price appeared in before being waived were the only NBA games he would ever play in.

Games Played (Regular Season 5 G, 5.8 MPG): Price is credited with appearing in 5 regular season games, but I only noted him in 4 TSN box scores. The four TSN box scores he appears in are for the games on 10/24/80, 10/25/80, 10/28/80, and 10/31/80. These were the Clippers’ sixth, seventh, eighth and tenth games of the season; the final game on 10/31 appears to have been Price’s last game on the Clippers’ roster. b-r.com’s game log feature also shows Price in only 4 box scores. It is possible that Price was omitted from one box score in which he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The TSN box scores do not show Price starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SG; this is the only season that Price played in the NBA.

STAN PIETKIEWICZ

History: 7th round pick of Braves in 1978. Signed as a free agent, July 1979.

Pietkiewicz started the season with the Clippers, but was waived on 10/28/80, seven games into the season. The Clippers filled his roster spot by signing Henry Bibby.

Games Played (Regular Season 6 G, 5.0 MPG): Pietkiewicz is credited with appearing in 6 regular season games for the Clippers, but I only noted him in 5 TSN box scores. The five TSN box scores he appears in are for the games on 10/10/80, 10/17/80, 10/19/80, 10/24/80, and 10/25/80. These were the Clippers’ first, third, fourth, sixth and seventh games of the season; the final game on 10/25 was Pietkiewicz’ last game on the Clippers’ roster. The two box scores he is absent from are 10/11/80 (second game of the season) and 10/21/80 (fifth game of the season). b-r.com’s game log feature also shows Pietkiewicz in only 5 box scores. It is possible that Pietkiewicz was omitted from one box score in which he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score.

Pietkiewicz was picked up by the Mavericks in January and would finish out the season with them. He appeared in 36 games with the Mavericks, giving him a total of 42 games played for the season.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The TSN box scores do not show Pietkiewicz starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SG for two of his three NBA seasons (including 1980-81), PG for the remaining season.

ED ODOM

History: 4th round pick of Clippers in 1980.

Odom started the season with the Clippers, but was waived on 10/14/80, two games into the season. The Clippers needed the roster spot to sign Garfield Heard. Odom did not appear in any games during his brief stay on the Clippers’ roster.

Games Played: Odom was briefly on the active roster, but did not appear in any games.

b-r.com position info: As he never appeared in an NBA regular season game, Odom does not have an entry on b-r.com. The 10/15/80 Kingman (Ariz.) Daily Miner article cited earlier, in the discussion of Odom’s waiving, identifies him as a guard.
Last edited by MCT on Mon Jun 20, 2016 2:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 San Diego Clippers Games Played/Started & Transa

Postby MCT » Mon May 23, 2016 1:56 pm

SAN DIEGO CLIPPERS – PART III

PLAYERS BY POSITION

STARTERS

The Clippers had a stable starting lineup throughout the season at three positions: Nater at center, Smith at one guard slot, and Taylor at the other guard slot. The only significant time any of those three spent out of the starting lineup was a 14-game stretch between early December and early January when Smith wasn’t starting, replaced by Williams. This was likely at least partially injury-related, as Smith didn’t play in the first six games in that stretch. At guard, b-r.com has Taylor as the PG and Smith as the SG, which seems pretty clear cut.

During the first half of the season, the two forward slots rotated among Wicks, Bryant, and Brooks (with Heard briefly in the mix as well). Around the first of the year, the Clippers finally settled on Bryant and Brooks, and they held down those roles for the rest of the season. For the season as a whole, I’d label Bryant and Brooks as the starters, and they were certainly the starters during our snapshot period. b-r.com has Bryant and Wicks as PFs and Brooks as an SF. I agree with that assessment, but would note that Bryant likely saw playing time at both PF and SF. There were times when Wicks and Bryant were starting alongside each other, in which case I’d call Wicks the PF and Bryant the SF.

All five regular starters averaged at least 28.8 minutes a game, with three of them (Nater, Smith and Brooks) over 30 mpg.

RESERVES

The reserve who played the most minutes per game, by a sizable margin, was Freeman Williams (24.1 mpg). One could probably label him as the Clippers’ “sixth man”. Williams was an SG. Given how many minutes he played, Williams likely spent some time playing alongside both starting guards, so at least one of the three must have had some ability to play in the other guard slot for stretches. Williams had a very interesting season statistically. He averaged only 24.1 mpg, and is shown starting fewer than 20 games in the TSN box scores, but he led the team in scoring with 19.3 ppg, scoring nearly 300 total points (and 2.5 ppg) more than any other player on the team. Think about that for a minute.

If Williams was the first wing/backcourt player off the bench, the first forward/big man was Garfield Heard (20.9 mpg). Rounding out the rotation are Henry Bibby (15.2 mpg), Jerome Whitehead (14.8 mpg), and Ron Davis (12.5 mpg). None of these players were actually with the Clippers all season, but once they joined the team, they established themselves as everyday rotation players. Heard was a PF, Bibby a PG, Whitehead a C, and Davis an SF.

The last player on the bench was clearly Wally Rank, who is shown as an SF. Rank appeared in 25 games, averaging 6.1 minutes per game. Rank looks like he missed significant time due to injury – he appears to have been on the injured list for most of the month of January – but he was probably at the bottom of the depth chart regardless.

POSITION NOTES

Center-Forwards

The Clippers had three players listed in their old b-r.com headers as playing both center and forward: Jerome Whitehead, Sidney Wicks and Joe Bryant. Whitehead is shown with a primary position of C for every season of his career, Wicks as a PF for every season of his career, and Bryant as a forward of some kind for every season of his career (1980-81 is PF).

The two players on the Clippers whose primary position is shown as center (Nater and Whitehead) played 575 fewer minutes than were available at center. This suggests that one or more players with a primary position of PF spent some time playing at center. In particular, note that the Clippers didn’t sign Whitehead until January, but someone has to have been the backup center before that point. Nater was the only active player during the pre-January timeframe shown with a primary position of C. The original idea was presumably for Walton to be the other center, but his injuries scuttled that plan. The roster spot used to sign Whitehead appears to have opened up as a direct result of Wally Rank being placed on the injured list, but Rank was a small forward, not a center. From that perspective, Whitehead may have really been more of a replacement for Walton, who was also on the IL.

My best guess is that most of those 575 minutes at center were played by Wicks. No other forward seems like an obvious candidate to swing to center, and it would make sense that these minutes were mostly played before Whitehead arrived (Wicks’ time with the Clippers was almost entirely before Whitehead was signed). Wicks is also shown starting one game at center. I won’t argue with b-r.com’s conclusion that PF was Wicks’ primary position, but if he covered most of those 575 minutes at center, his minutes at each position would have to be roughly equal. I don’t have a sense of how much Wicks played at center in other seasons; it may be that, at this point in his career, he was somewhat out of position playing there, but the Clippers simply had no one else to fill the backup center role due to Walton’s absence.

Due to the shortage of minutes at center, I don’t see why the Clippers would have had much need to use Whitehead at forward. I would also be surprised if they used Bryant at center on anything more than an occasional/emergency basis. At this point in his career, Bryant looks like he was moving in the direction of being a “smaller” player, who would soon (according to b-r.com) evolve into playing primarily SF.

Forwards-Guards

The Clippers had three players listed in their old b-r.com headers as playing both forward and guard: Freeman Williams, Ron Davis and Stan Pietkiewicz. All three are listed as Guard-Forward in their old b-r.com headers. Williams is shown with a primary position of SG for every season of his career, while Pietkiewicz is shown as a guard of some kind for every season of his career. Strangely, even though Davis is shown as a “Guard-Forward” in his old b.r-com header, his primary position is shown as SF for every season of his career, and at least for 1980-81, that seems to be correct.

If you add up the minutes played by every player on the Clippers whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and you add up the minutes played for every player on the Clippers whose primary position was in the backcourt, there is a surplus of 55 minutes in the frontcourt, and a shortage of 55 minutes in the backcourt. Based on that, I don’t see why the Clippers would have had much need to swing any of these players between guard and forward.

As always, I would be interested in any information anyone has about how these players were used, this season or elsewhere in their careers.

TRIVIA

Oldest Player: Garfield Heard, born 5/3/48 (age 32 throughout the season).

Played in ABA: Swen Nater, Brian Taylor.

Longest continuous service with team: Swen Nater, with the team since the 1977-78 season, the last season it was known as the Buffalo Braves, before moving to San Diego. Nater was the only remaining player who had been with the franchise continuously since its days in Buffalo. Garfield Heard had played for the franchise when it was in Buffalo, but obviously hadn’t been with the team continuously since then. Jerome Whitehead and Stan Pietkiewicz were drafted by the Buffalo Braves, but the team had moved to San Diego by the time they made their NBA debuts, and neither had been with the team continuously since then.

Highest original draft position*: #1 overall – Bill Walton. Among players who actually appeared in a game with the Clippers this season (Walton missed the entire season due to injury), Sidney Wicks was a #2 overall pick.

Lowest original draft position*: 7th round, #133 overall – Stan Pietkiewicz.

Youngest Player: Michael Brooks, born 8/17/58 (age 22 throughout the season). Wally Rank was also born in 1958, but earlier in the year.

*Which player was chosen with the highest/lowest selection, by round and/or overall pick, with no regard to whether any players may have been drafted under circumstances not reflecting their “true” value (e.g., player was a junior eligible who had not committed to turn pro right away, player was already under contract to ABA).
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Re: 1980-81 San Diego Clippers Games Played/Started & Transa

Postby wojoaderge » Tue May 24, 2016 3:18 pm

They definitely used Bryant at C. See his entry in the 1981-82 Complete Handbook
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Re: 1980-81 San Diego Clippers Games Played/Started & Transa

Postby MCT » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:31 pm

A while back, Mike G. posted some material in the Spurs thread, with position information for 1980-81 sourced from Neft & Cohen’s NBA Encyclopedia. I recently posted about this in the introductory thread to this series, noting that I planned to post and comment on this data on a team-by-team basis. See the eighth post in the introductory thread for more information.

Here’s what Neft & Cohen have for the Clippers:

Mike Goodman wrote:
Code: Select all
tm     player         pos   Min     
SDC   Swen Nater       C   2809         
SDC   Michael Brooks   F   2479         
SDC   Phil Smith       g   2378         
SDC   Joe Bryant       F   2359         
SDC   Brian Taylor     G   2312         
SDC   Freeman Williams G   1976         
SDC   Gar Heard        f   1631         
SDC   Henry Bibby      g   1112         
SDC   Sidney Wicks    fc   1083         
SDC   Ron Davis       fg    817         
SDC  Jerome Whitehead  c    562         
SDC   Wally Rank      fg    153         
SDC  Stan Pietkiewicz gf     30


MCT wrote:The Clippers had three players listed in their old b-r.com headers as playing both center and forward: Jerome Whitehead, Sidney Wicks and Joe Bryant. Whitehead is shown with a primary position of C for every season of his career, Wicks as a PF for every season of his career, and Bryant as a forward of some kind for every season of his career (1980-81 is PF).

The two players on the Clippers whose primary position is shown as center (Nater and Whitehead) played 575 fewer minutes than were available at center. This suggests that one or more players with a primary position of PF spent some time playing at center. In particular, note that the Clippers didn’t sign Whitehead until January, but someone has to have been the backup center before that point. Nater was the only active player during the pre-January timeframe shown with a primary position of C. The original idea was presumably for Walton to be the other center, but his injuries scuttled that plan. The roster spot used to sign Whitehead appears to have opened up as a direct result of Wally Rank being placed on the injured list, but Rank was a small forward, not a center. From that perspective, Whitehead may have really been more of a replacement for Walton, who was also on the IL.

My best guess is that most of those 575 minutes at center were played by Wicks. No other forward seems like an obvious candidate to swing to center, and it would make sense that these minutes were mostly played before Whitehead arrived (Wicks’ time with the Clippers was almost entirely before Whitehead was signed). Wicks is also shown starting one game at center. I won’t argue with b-r.com’s conclusion that PF was Wicks’ primary position, but if he covered most of those 575 minutes at center, his minutes at each position would have to be roughly equal. I don’t have a sense of how much Wicks played at center in other seasons; it may be that, at this point in his career, he was somewhat out of position playing there, but the Clippers simply had no one else to fill the backup center role due to Walton’s absence.

Neft & Cohen seem to agree with my take here. They have Wicks as “fc”.

MCT wrote:Due to the shortage of minutes at center, I don’t see why the Clippers would have had much need to use Whitehead at forward. I would also be surprised if they used Bryant at center on anything more than an occasional/emergency basis. At this point in his career, Bryant looks like he was moving in the direction of being a “smaller” player, who would soon (according to b-r.com) evolve into playing primarily SF.

Neft & Cohen have Whitehead as exclusively a center, and Bryant as exclusively a forward.

MCT wrote: The Clippers had three players listed in their old b-r.com headers as playing both forward and guard: Freeman Williams, Ron Davis and Stan Pietkiewicz. All three are listed as Guard-Forward in their old b-r.com headers. Williams is shown with a primary position of SG for every season of his career, while Pietkiewicz is shown as a guard of some kind for every season of his career. Strangely, even though Davis is shown as a “Guard-Forward” in his old b.r-com header, his primary position is shown as SF for every season of his career, and at least for 1980-81, that seems to be correct.

If you add up the minutes played by every player on the Clippers whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and you add up the minutes played for every player on the Clippers whose primary position was in the backcourt, there is a surplus of 55 minutes in the frontcourt, and a shortage of 55 minutes in the backcourt. Based on that, I don’t see why the Clippers would have had much need to swing any of these players between guard and forward.

Contrary to what I said in the last sentence above, Neft & Cohen do think the Clippers had some players who swung between forward and guard. They have Pietkiewicz as “gf”, and Davis as “fg”. They also have Wally Rank as “fg”, which is the first suggestion we’ve seen that Rank wasn’t exclusively a forward. Williams is shown as exclusively a guard.

While I can’t definitively say they’re wrong, I’m not entirely on board with Neft & Cohen’s conclusions, for the simple reason that I’m having a hard time seeing the available minutes in the backcourt for Davis and Rank to both get significant playing time there. Moving some of Pietkiewicz’ minutes from guard to forward isn’t enough to change this, because Pietkiewicz was with the team only briefly.
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