Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stuck In A Moment: How The Los Angeles Clippers Take One Step Forward, Then Immediately Collapse Into A Ball Of Suck Again

I pull for the Clippers.

I mean that in every way. I'm an underdog guy. I can admit that, as passe as it may be. So the bastard child team of Los Angeles holds a special place in my heart. The 2006 Western Conference Semifinals between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers will always hold a very dear place in my heart. High scoring, fun, energetic. Watching Brand having his coming out party was startling, even if it did only last for that precious few weeks. Tim Thomas was a damn hero in that series, for God's sake.

And even when Brand got hurt and they fell apart last year, worse than they had the season before, I still found them fascinating. Al Thornton was the guy when I looked at the first round draft picks, I thought "Why is no one talking about this guy?" When he turned into an offensive albatross, I was exhilirated. The Clippers weren't that bad last year. Mediocre? Sure. But not bad.

So I headed into the 2008 offseason with a lot of hope for this club. The seventh pick in the draft. Cap space if they let Maggette go. The opportunity to lock up Brand. The rising young scorer guard forward. These guys could make a run.

Then, the Clippers' patented disaster two-step began.

They entered draft night needing help at guard. Plain and simple. Livingston was enough of a question mark for them to renounce him. They're in a prime position. They can attempt to work something to move up, but they don't really need to, given Kevin Love's meteoric rise and the increasing likelihood of Russell Westbrook being taken highly. They can bring in a capable combo guard with an abrasion of offensive skills, terrific handle, and lightning fast speed. His name is Jerryd Bayless.

The Clippers draft "the future fatter Ben Gordon," Eric Gordon.


Having taken the player most likely to be blocked in the NBA draft, they then turned their heads toward free agency.

When Baron Davis opted out, it was a unique opportunity to land the kind of guy that could put a club full of almost-rans and Elton Brand over the top. The Clippers' management displayed an uncharacteristic amount of vision and leadership in signing Davis to a large but reasonable contract, that also allowed them the room to resign Elton Brand.


Elton Brand then signs with the Philadelphia 76ers.


The Clippers then make an offer to Kelenna Azubuike, who would fill several holes for them and give them a productive bench guy they need.


The Warriors match the offer sheet.

Fail. Not their fault, but still. Fail.

The Clippers also lose Corey Maggette, but that's fine as he was expendable. At this point, even with Brand's crushing departure, the Clippers have enough money to make some moves. They contact Josh Smith, but are unable to seal the deal.

They manage to salvage things, somewhat, though. They send almost nothing to Denver and get Marcus Camby. For all the discussion (destruction) of his game by media and bloggers, it's still a former defensive player of the year who has veteran leadership and a hard nosed approach to defense.


They then sign Ricky Davis, a shoot first guard that specializes in shooting first, then shooting, then shooting, and finally getting paid too much money to shoot.


I don't have an NBA team of my own (yet). But if I did, and it was the Clippers? I would throw myself off a very small cliff. Not enough to kill myself, just enough to make it hurt really, really bad. Anything to distract me from the frustration. It's not like it's so bad you can't have hope. They give their fans hope. Then they turn around and take a big crap on that hope. Then they brush it off and show it to you again, and even though it's still covered in crap, you're still like, "Oh, hope. I like hope." Then they set it on fire. Then they rehabilitate it. Repeat. They're like this Phoenix that never takes flight.

And now I look at that team, and I see a team that could have had this 10 man rotation:

Boom Dizzle, Jerryd Bayless, Al Thornton, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, Jason Hart, Cuttino Mobley, Tim Thomas, DeAndre Jordan, Nick Fazekas.

And there's not much difference in that and the projected starting five. But those two players are pretty huge.

I'll still pull for the Clippers. But last season it was for the guy you know who breaks both of his legs and has to go through physical therapy to walk again.

This time it's for the guy who keeps making dumb decisions and is then amazed when the consequences are terrible. Yeah, he's got terrible luck, but you've also got to think things through.

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