Words by Phlip
I (rightly) predicted that they would get to the playoffs last year, and (again rightly) said that they would get out of the first round. One would argue that I should “probably” stop calling them the “Cripples” now, huh? Well, Chauncey Billups ruined a knee last season and Blake hurt himself working out for Team USA this summer.
So the difference between being the Cripples and being called the Clippers is all in how they respond to the adversity, and their understanding on how this impacts their chances at retaining Chris Paul at the end of this season. Let us count the ways…
- • Retained the services of Chauncey Billups, suggesting they value his NBA Finals MVP pedigree
• Re-signed Blake Griffin for 5 years and $95mil, suggesting they’re committed to the future
• Brought in Grant Hill suggesting they value mature leadership in their locker room
• Traded away Reggie Evans, also suggesting the value of maturity
• Brought back Lamar Odom, which based upon his past season suggests a commitment to irony and tradition
• Scored Rony Turiaf from Miami… this signing is curious to me, as Rony Turiaf signed with the Clippers as a free agent, leaving the NBA Champion Miami Heat to do so. If they can talk someone into making that move – once thought unthinkable, even before Miami was back in contention – then they must seriously have a plan to sell.
Of the 12 guys indicated on the roster right now, half of them are 6’10” and taller. In a league where, as we once discussed, that “size matters,” it is apparent that the Clippers are preparing themselves to play bully ball to compliment the “Lob City” as established on the heels of Chris Paul’s vision and Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan’s athleticism.
Like last season; win, lose, or draw, the Clippers will be a GAS to watch. The only difference is that that they will get even MORE television time. They’re smartly coached by one of Gregg Popovich’s old Point Guards in Vinny Del Negro, who has done nothing but get better as a coach after the raw deal he got in Chicago after not getting along with upper management in a tiff over personnel issues.
If we saw legions of “lifelong” Clippers fans – of whom I ONLY really credit Billy Crystal and the cat at games in costume in the stands for not bailing on the team – come out of nowhere last season to cheer for the number of dunks and generally entertaining basketball now being played by the Staples Center’s JV team, we can only expect that number to grow in this coming season. For the sake of the organization (and perhaps Del Negro’s job), that had BETTER include another trip into the second round with a credible shot at winning the series and not getting swept again. Otherwise, Chris Paul is very likely to skate on to another team and the “Cripples” will be fully back in effect.
Words by Phlip