Los Angeles Clippers Channel Their Past
The Los Angeles Clippers are going for broke. They were once willing to give up G Eric Bledsoe and a pick to acquire Boston Celtics’ head coach Doc Rivers and potentially F/C Kevin Garnett and F Paul Pierce. They want to retain the services of G Chris Paul, while also retaining Bledsoe. Considering that the Clippers were able to keep C DeAndre Jordan, and have F Blake Griffin in tow, the Clippers were coming off a franchise-best 56-win season and their first division title. Owner Donald Sterling wants to push the team to the top, and in attempting to do so, he made one last push (after two failed tries) to acquire Rivers and succeeded.
The hope for the Clippers is that Rivers can get more out of the current core of players including Paul (should the Clippers convince him to stay with the team, as he is an unrestricted free agent), Griffin, Jordan, Bledsoe and a mixture of G Jamal Crawford and F Caron Butler (should the team not seek to trade his soon-to-be expiring contract). The Clippers are below the salary cap, but if they are to retain Paul, they will still need to replenish their bench, with the retirement of F Grant Hill. Additionally, G Chauncey Billups is likely not to return, and at age 37, he won’t be much of a factor at this stage in his career. F Lamar Odom’s future is up in the air. There has been talk about Odom returning to the Los Angeles Lakers or the New York Knicks, his hometown team.
The Clippers have realistically topped out with this core of players. They cannot count on Griffin and Jordan to produce in the clutch, and too often, the Clippers have no pulse unless Paul takes over the game. That is a lot of pressure to exert upon one player and not have consistent scoring in the post, which is necessary for any team that seeks to advance to the NBA Finals and win – unless you are the Miami Heat with LeBron James. If the Clippers are unable to add the additional shooter that they need, as well as a player who can make a difference offensively (if not from Griffin and his individual progression), then they are not any more likely to advance beyond the Western Conference Semifinals; which has been their fate in both years with this core assimilated.
The Clippers possess the 25th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and hope to have some value that can bolster their depth, without having to overspend on a free agent to provide the same production.
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