Versatile Terance Mann named Clippers starter, Ty Lue says

LOS ANGELES -- Ty Lue not only wants Terance Mann to remain with the LA Clippers, he is starting the versatile guard, as well.

The Clippers coach announced Mann as his fifth starter Friday, finalizing his starting unit that includes Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Ivica Zubac.

Lue cited Mann's versatility and ability to guard multiple positions as reasons why he went with the fifth-year guard.

"We can start him on a point guard, where we can put him on Steph [Curry] and Dame [Lillard] and guys like that," Lue said before Friday's practice. "Then we can play him on [bigger players such as Lauri Markkanen] if we have to, and just his versatility of being able to guard point guards as well as 2s, 3s and 4s I think makes the most sense right now."

The Clippers and the Sixers have had trade talks centered around James Harden for months, but the Clippers are determined to keep Mann, 27, out of any potential deal for the Sixers point guard.

Sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday that a sizable gap remained and that there had been little movement in negotiations for months on a deal between the two teams on a Harden trade.

Before the Clippers' preseason finale Thursday, Lue was asked about how Mann deals with hearing his name involved with the Harden trade talk all over social media.

"We love T-Mann," Lue said. "So that's a good position to be in. It's different when [teams] don't want you, then you're out of the league.

"But we love T-Mann and T-Mann is going to be here. So we're not really worried about. We're just staying outside [of] all the speculations or whatever and it's a good thing to be wanted, I'll tell you that."

The Clippers hope they won't be shorthanded at point guard in their season opener against Portland on Wednesday. Backup point guard Bones Hyland, who impressed the Clippers in the preseason, suffered a sprained left ankle in Thursday's 103-90 preseason loss to Denver. Hyland, who did not practice Friday, will be reevaluated in a few days, according to the team.

For now, the Clippers' starting lineup is set. Veteran Nic Batum said Mann's job as the fifth starter is simple.

"It's going to be this role -- you're going to have to make sure those guys have a good life," Batum said. "... It's going to be an easy fit because it's so easy to play [that role]. You got three guys going to be in the Hall of Fame at the end of their careers and Zu is a great guy to play with, so when you come in, basketball is easy when you play with [those] guys."