Q&A: Terance Mann believes Clippers can be a title contender

The call came from a boat bobbing on Italy’s Lake Como.

Clippers guard Terance Mann cruised under a cloudy sky on June evening past hilltop mansions surrounded by green vines, arched bridges and steps leading locals down to the water. In case you were wondering how his off-season went, here’s your enviable answer.

Mann was in Italy to attend NBA Basketball Without Borders camp in Milan, along with fellow advisors Danilo Gallinari, the former clipper who grew up out of town, New Yorker Kemba Walker and coaches including Memphis-based Taylor Jenkins . The NBA has been running such development camps in Europe, Asia and America since 2001, and this one, according to the league, was attended by 62 high school boys and girls from 24 European countries, and a team coached by Mann and Portland assistant Edniesha Curry. finished their camp 8-0.

Just three years earlier, Mann, as a senior in the state of Florida, was trying to be spotted preparing for the draft. He capitalized on his performance at the NBA’s elite G-League camp for prospects in a last-minute invite to the league’s selective scouting combine.

His rise from being a participant in one of the league’s camps to an advisor in another reflects his rapid development into a trusted member of the Clippers rotation during his first three NBA seasons, on a two-year, $22 million contract received extra time beginning before the 2023–24 season.

The Clippers topped their opponents by 60 points last season in Mann’s team-best 2,317 minutes and played him in almost every position, as coach Tyronn Lue’s lineup dictated. And yes, he is aware of this plus/minus and proud of it.

“That’s stupid,” he said.

Mann paused during his Lake Como cruise to discuss the bitter start to his off-season, insights into Kawhi Leonard and why the Clippers’ key to realizing their championship ambitions in 2023 begins this summer.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Look at these campers and sympathize as they try to get on the NBA radar because you’ve been in their shoes?

Definitive. I thought today I can see myself in some of these kids that are just playing hard out there looking for opportunities so it’s pretty cool to be out here and see that.

What is your role during the camps?

I get there and we go through the stations and I help coach the stations and then I’m an assistant coach on a team that we got and then we play three games a day.

This happens during the first real off-season of your career, with everything before that being abbreviated to Summer League or COVID. When the season ended and you knew you would have five months between seasons, how did you decide to use that time to get better?

Basically, I’m in the gym as much as possible. Try to figure out how you can be better on and off the court. That was my plan, basically in the first two weeks figure out how I’m going to use that time to get better.

Julius V, a coach you work with during the offseason, recently wrote on Twitter that people have no idea how hard you’re working this offseason. Are there specific areas that employees wanted you to work in this summer and are they different from the areas you wanted to work in?

It’s no different than what I had in mind and what I and Julius had in mind for my game, so it actually fitted together perfectly. It’s all synergy. If I go with Julius, we’ll do the same thing with what the Clippers do, and then the Clippers will understand what I’m doing with Julius.

What areas are you working on?

Different things, different shooting things, different looks at scoring and passing.

The season ended so abruptly in the warm-up round before I and others on the team expected it. How come you didn’t get a chance to play Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs?

It wasn’t a comfortable feeling but it happened, we expected to be there, I think everyone expected us to be there too, so it ended the way it ended, but we’re ready to go back up next year get your legs up and hopefully be healthy.

Broadly assessing how last season went, what do you think worked for you and what didn’t?

How much I’ve learned, how much I’ve been able to be out there in so many different situations and played in so many different positions last year, you know, I think I enjoyed the backup point guard. The beginning of the year on the wing was fun for me, I think all phases during the season were fun, be it the road trip in the middle, the beginning which was a learning curve for me because it was most of the minutes that I have ever played . And then even at the end just trying to fight for a place in the playoffs. I think that’s how I looked back on the season.

The Clippers will have a chance to add a point guard this offseason, but as someone who played that role in the second half of the season, how often do you see yourself playing that specific role next season?

Next year I really don’t know. I really don’t know what Ty is going to do, but whatever he asks, I’ll do my best. I can’t see where he’s going to take me. I do not know. It really depends on what he wants to do.

I’m sure you’re watching the playoffs and right now, shootout and big wing teams are doing well. That pretty much describes your squad next year. The Clippers have Robert Covington back, Nicolas Batum has a chance to come back. What did you notice about what worked in the playoffs that gives you confidence about what the Clippers could achieve next year?

Yeah, I think small-small-ball in late-game situations, being able to switch everything and protect like the Celtics do and then just have big wings out there is a plus for him at the moment both teams. And the shooting — we’re one of the best three-point shooting teams in the NBA right now. I think all of the above things that I’m watching over the next year make up all of those categories.

They were at the practice facility and Kawhi Leonard was there too. Obviously, the Clippers title jumble focuses on the possibility of you being sane and getting that core of Kawhi and Paul George back. What can you say about seeing Kawhi this offseason and what he was able to do? And could you actually play with him?

It’s a new sight for us to see him out there doing the training almost every day. Yeah it was cool to see. I haven’t been able to go out with him yet, but I spoke to him the other day and wanted to take care of it when I got back from Italy.

You were in the 2019/20 team with title expectations and you will have them again next year. Are there ways you think the Clippers can learn where this team has fallen short in terms of expectations and handling the pressure?

Yes, I think we can definitely learn from this year. We also have several core guys from this year so I think what we can learn is when people play against us that every time they play their best game they see the Clippers, they will come to play. I think that’s one thing we can learn from this year and hopefully put into everyone’s minds.

There was much debate last season that the winning tally (42-40) had a lot to do with players sticking together through tough times due to injury and illness. Now that everyone has had more than a month to relax after the season, do guys organize trips or workouts together? How do you stay connected during the off-season?

Mainly communication and joint training. There’s a lot of guys on the [text] Chain up with workouts and stuff and just trying to get comfortable with each other… Yeah, I think workouts and communication, that’s the key to a championship run, I think.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/clippers/story/2022-06-06/clippers-terance-mann-question-and-answer-nba-championship-contender Q&A: Terance Mann believes Clippers can be a title contender

Emma Bowman

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