HOUSTON -- When Doc Rivers waived Jordan Farmar and traded Reggie Bullock and Chris Douglas-Roberts to acquire Austin Rivers last month, he didn't do so just to be reunited with his son and upgrade the backup point guard position on his team.
He wanted to create roster flexibility. He wanted to open up a couple of roster spots going into the trade deadline so he could go after players to bolster the Clippers' roster heading into the playoffs.
"I think it will be an active buyout season," Rivers said at the time he made the moves. "We'll see. Maybe more so than last year."
Last season the Clippers were able to add Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Danny Granger after the trade deadline and during the "buyout season." This season they've struck out and missed so far on every veteran they targeted.
They reached out to Josh Smith after the Detroit Pistons waived him, but he opted to sign with the Houston Rockets.
They recruited Kendrick Perkins hard after the Utah Jazz bought him out and before he decided to join LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
They had their sights set on Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince before both were traded back to their original teams at the deadline.
They still have an open invitation out to Ray Allen, but he appears content to stay retired.
Instead, the Clippers have used their extra roster spots so far to sign Dahntay Jones, who was signed for the rest of the season on Feb. 3 after signing two 10-day contracts, and Jordan Hamilton, who signed a 10-day contract on Monday. Neither played on Wednesday.
Not exactly the big moves Rivers anticipated making, but that hasn't changed his view of the Clippers.
"We like our team," Rivers said Wednesday. "We actually like our basketball team, and if we could add something that can help that, we will. What people don't understand is chemistry is so freaking important. Unless it's somebody you think is going to really change your team, this team was a couple bad plays in Game 6 away from the Western Conference finals last year. We lost some guys and added some guys, but we like our team."
The Clippers were two wins over Oklahoma City from playing San Antonio in the Western Conference finals, but they haven't exactly improved since then. They lost backup point guard Darren Collison, who sparked the Clippers to their comeback win over the Thunder in Game 4, in the offseason to the Sacramento Kings. They gave up a first-round pick to part with Jared Dudley, who is averaging eight points and three rebounds while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from 3 for Milwaukee this season. They signed Farmar to replace Collison, but he never fit in, and he's now playing in Turkey. They signed Spencer Hawes to a four-year, $23 million contract but he has been underwhelming at best, averaging 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from 3.
The Clippers could have probably used some help from the buyout market this season, certainly in light of Blake Griffin's elbow surgery, but simply haven't been as successful as they were last season.
"We just haven't been as active as we wanted to be," Rivers said. "We thought it would be more guys, to be honest, but it's not like we've been out there with a 'For Sale' sign."
Rivers not only swung and missed with the Farmar and Douglas-Roberts signings on the court but neither was a real good fit in the locker room, making Rivers more apprehensive than usual when pursuing players he doesn't personally know.
"You know a lot going into it. You really do," Rivers said. "There are some guys you'll take a risk on and some guys you just won't take a risk on. Let's just be honest: Guys who are out there, that's what you're trying to judge. You're trying to judge your locker room, too. If you have a veteran-laced locker room, you're probably willing to take more risk. If you don't, you're probably willing to take less."
Rivers would have loved to add Garnett, Perkins or Allen to the mix for the stretch run, but he also wasn't in the market to just add anybody when those possibilities failed to materialize as planned. He still thinks the Clippers will be able to compete for a championship as they are currently constructed.
"You look at San Antonio, they never [take risks in the buyout market], for the most part," Rivers said. "They've taken a couple, but one of the things [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] believes in -- and I do, too -- when you start with your roster at the beginning of the year and your chemistry looks good, you should be very careful, even if it's a minor move with tweaking it. It's worked pretty well for him, so if I can follow that, I think it's probably a good idea."