As NBA fans turn their attention to Los Angeles, where the Lakers are preparing to battle the Celtics for the second time in three years, it’s easy to overlook Los Angeles’ other franchise, the Clippers. For years, the Clippers have lived in the shadow of the Lakers, compiling losing seasons, and watching as their best players either left town or got hurt.
This past season was no different, as the Clippers limped to a 29-53 record. To make matters worse, Blake Griffin, the first pick of the 2009 draft and the player who was expected to lead the Clippers’ turnaround, was injured and was unable to play a single game. To make matters worse, the Clippers only received the 8th pick in the draft, where they are unlikely to land a game-changing player.
In many ways, the Clipper franchise appears to be cursed, as they have a record of bad luck and poor personnel decisions, in addition to one of the more controversial owners in sports, Donald Sterling. Why, then, might there be reason for optimism for Los Angeles’ 2nd team?
The primary reason for optimism amongst Clippers fans is an economic one. Next season, the Clippers only have 5 players under contract, and they have freed up enough money to offer a max contract to an established superstar. Despite the available money, however, is there a reason for a great player to head to leave their previous teams and head to a team without any prior track record of success.
Surprisingly, the answer might be yes. While the Clippers have been a doormat of the league for quite some time, they do have a talented roster that could lure a talented player to Los Angeles. First and foremost, the Clippers boast Eric Gordon, one of the most talented young shooting guards in the NBA. Although he is only finishing his second year, he has already established himself as one of the top jump-shooters in the league, and he has also shown solid athleticism. For a great player looking for a complimentary second player, they would be unlikely to find a better sidekick than Gordon.
In addition, the Clippers also boast a solid veteran presence in Chris Kaman and Baron Davis. Although Kaman is not regarded as an elite player, he provides a solid and dependable presence at the center position, which few other teams can offer. Like Kaman, Baron Davis also provides veteran leadership and solid production. Although Davis is no longer an elite point guard, he still has the ability to effectively distribue the basketball and control the tempo of a game.
With the presence of Blake Griffin, whose potential is considered to be nearly unlimited, it is fair to say that no other team could offer a better situation for a free agent looking to win and win immediately. Although Lebron James doesn’t appear likely to head to Los Angeles, there are a number of other talented players, such as Rudy Gay or Joe Johnson, who could contribute to the Clippers success for the 2010 season. Although the Clippers must contend with decades of futility, there appears to be, for the first time, reasons for optimism in the future.
by Nathan Eagan at the Sports Fan Blog Network