MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (AP) – The Los Angeles Clippers got Mfiondu Kabengele in a draft-night trade with the Brooklyn Nets, who took the Florida State forward with the 27th pick on Thursday.
The move reunited Kabengele with his college teammate Terance Mann, who went to the Clippers with the 48th pick in the second round.
“Way at the beginning of the draft process, those were two guys that we targeted,” said Lawrence Frank, president of basketball operations. “The fact that it came together was really, really unique.”
The Clippers’ major focus is on adding a big name through upcoming free agency.
“We’re prepared for any scenario that may come our way,” Frank said. “In the draft, the organization chooses the player. In free agency, the player chooses the organization, so all we can do is be ourselves. Hopefully, the players that we’re attracted to are also attracted to us.”
The 6-foot-10, 256-pound Kabengele is strong inside and has good touch from 3-point range, making 37% from beyond the arc in two seasons with the Seminoles. He is the nephew of Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutumbo, who provided valuable guidance leading up to the draft.
“During draft night, I wasn’t nervous because he told me that even if I had a great workout with a team, they might not pick me because they have other agendas,” Kabengele said. “I didn’t take any of that personally, so when I was in the green room I was poised, calm and I just trusted everything.”
Kabengele donned a Nets cap as he walked on stage in Brooklyn, New York, to greet NBA Commissioner Adam Silver before finding out he was headed West.
“The Clippers are great,” he said. “I just know that when it comes to developing talent, the coaching, I just know it’s the right spot.”
Mann helped Florida State reach the Elite Eight in 2018 during his four-year college career. He led the team in rebounds, 3-point percentage and minutes as a senior.
The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder was a versatile wing that did a little bit of everything for the Seminoles and played with high energy.
Frank said Kabengele and Mann both fit the current Clippers’ roster.
“We’re always looking for big wings,” Frank said. “Terance is a terrific playmaker, a very good defender and has improved his shooting each year. Fi, as their sixth man was their leading scorer and has an unbelievable knack for scoring inside and out.”
Kabengele and Mann will be guests of the Clippers at the NBA Awards in Santa Monica on Monday night.
In exchange for Kabengele, the Nets got Jaylen Hands of UCLA, who was taken 56th by the Clippers.
Hands led the Pac-12 in assists last season before leaving after two seasons in nearby Westwood.