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Bobcats coach Steve Clifford tells new signee to be ready on the quick

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Kevin C. Cox - Getty Images
NBA veteran small forward Chris Douglas-Roberts says he’ll be ready when the Charlotte Bobcats need him.

The urgency involved in signing Chris Douglas-Roberts out of the NBA Development League as an insurance policy at small forward was undeniable Wednesday.

“Friday – that’s what I expect,” Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said, when asked when Douglas-Roberts should be ready to play.

“It’s the NBA, he knows it. When he’s in there, we’ll be careful what we run, but he needs to be ready by Friday (against the Indiana Pacers).

“That’s a big part of why he’s here. I was around him for a month (as an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers). He picks things up quickly. I trust him as a competitor. I told him, ‘The reason you’re here is because you may be needed, so we need you ready.’”

The Bobcats signed Douglas-Roberts, a 6-foot-7 guard-forward, Wednesday, waiving rookie James Southerland to create a roster spot. This was in reaction to various injuries at small forward. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is out four-six weeks with a broken hand and Jeff Taylor missed Monday’s victory over the Golden State Warriors with an inflamed heel.

Taylor played and started Wednesday against the Orlando Magic, but Clifford felt Southerland wasn’t experienced enough to play yet, so the team turned to veteran Douglas-Roberts.

He was averaging 18.7 points this season for the Texas Legends, an NBDL team run by the Dallas Mavericks. More importantly he has 161 games in the NBA since the 2008-09 season, playing stints with the Nets, Bucks and Mavericks.

In his NBA career, Douglas-Roberts has averaged 7.5 points, shooting 44percent from the field and 28percent from 3-point range.

He said Clifford’s expectation that he be up to speed on the team’s offensive sets and defensive principles by Friday is reasonable and he’ll be ready.

“We’re professionals. Things like this happen and you have to pick things up fast,” Douglas-Roberts said before the Magic game. “This isn’t college anymore. You’re in the NBA for a reason, and you have to pick up sets. A lot of the sets are (familiar), they’re just called” different names.

Clifford got to know Douglas-Roberts at Lakers training camp before Douglas-Roberts was cut last fall.

“He has toughness and experience,” said Clifford. “We needed someone who could compete in a game as needed. He can do that.”

Since the Bobcats already were at the NBA maximum 15 players, someone had to be waived for the team to sign Douglas-Roberts. Southerland, who went undrafted last June, was the logical choice if he wasn’t ready to play and wasn’t owed any guaranteed money.

But Clifford emphasized this decision doesn’t reflect negatively on Southerland.

“He was brought in as a developmental player. We like him a lot,” Clifford said. “Nothing he did he could have done better. We just needed someone more ready to play.”

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