College Sports

Thornwell’s LA exit ‘the business of the game.’ Here’s what’s next for Gamecock great

Watch: Sindarius Thornwell discusses what’s next in NBA career

Former South Carolina standout Sindarius Thornwell talks about being released from the LA Clippers and what's next for his NBA career.
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Former South Carolina standout Sindarius Thornwell talks about being released from the LA Clippers and what's next for his NBA career.

Sindarius Thornwell has no hard feelings.

A little more than a week after being released by the Los Angeles Clippers, the South Carolina basketball great is looking to see what’s next for him in his NBA career.

Thornwell played the past two seasons with the Clippers, who acquired him via a second round trade in the 2017 NBA Draft. Thornwell was entering the final year of his three-year rookie deal, but the last season of the contract wasn’t guaranteed.

Los Angeles needed to trim some salary after signing Kawhi Leonard as a free agent and trading for Paul George. The Clippers were upfront with Thornwell, the centerpiece of USC’s 2017 Final Four team, during the whole process.

Clippers president “Lawrence Frank called me and let me know everything before it happened. He said, ‘We got a chance to get Paul George. And if we get Paul George, we know we are going to get Kawhi (Leonard). With us having to bring Paul George in, we are going to have to let you go,’” Thornwell said Sunday on the first day of the Kuntry Classic Pro-Am in his hometown of Lancaster. “It is understandable. It is the business of the game. Anybody in America would have done that.

“After everything comes through and clears, there is a possibility, he said, ‘We could might come back and get you and sign you back to the team.’ ”

Thornwell said he would welcome a return to the Clippers to play alongside NBA All-Stars Leonard and George. There are six or seven teams that have expressed interest in him so far, he said, and he is weighing his options.

Thornwell played in 64 games, starting one, for a 48-win team and averages 4.9 minutes and one point per game this season. His role became smaller after a rookie season in which he averaged 15.8 minutes, starting 17 of the 73 games he played in.

“Me and my agent are going through it right now to find the best opportunity for me to play,” Thornwell said. “That is all it is, trying to find the right situation where I can get on the court and show what I can do.”

In the meantime, Thornwell is staying busy working out and playing as much basketball as he can. He recently worked out at USC and has spent a lot of time at Barr Street Gym in Lancaster, where the Kuntry Classic is held and where he spent many hours as a kid playing hoops.

Thornwell is in the process of remodeling the gym and plans on putting in a new floor and hoops. The Classic runs on six straight Sundays until Aug. 18, beginning at 3 p.m. Thornwell’s late uncle, DaJuan Thornwell (nicknamed Big Kuntry) started the Classic and now his nephew has taken over the last two years.

A near-capacity crowd packed the tiny gym by the time Thornwell’s Sin City team took the floor Sunday. Denver Nuggets forward Torrey Craig, who starred at nearby Great Falls High School, played in the final game Sunday. Thornwell said former Gamecock PJ Dozier also is expected to play at some point along with some other NBA players making an appearance.

“This is something good for the community,” Thornwell said. “Lancaster is a real sports-driven town that goes off sports and athletes. I think it is good for kids to see different guys from around the community coming here and play.”