Is the season over?
Of course not. Incomprehensible though it seems, the team is still in the 7th position in the West, despite not having played consistently well at any point this season. The longer this goes on, the less likely it becomes that the Clippers will be able to return to their 05-06 form, but the 8th seed and a second consecutive trip to the playoffs is still more likely than not.
Is this the low point of the season?
That's a tough one. I'm going to go with 'Yes' only because we were starting to feel pretty good, so this crash hurts all the more. The loss at Atlanta was a really, really bad loss, but they came back with a win the next game. From halftime in New York to now, the Clippers have played 6 consecutive atrocious quarters of basketball, and what's more, have looked disinterested while doing so. The loss in Dallas on Dec. 22 is close - behind by 38 after three quarters, extending a losing streak to a season long 6 games, directly after a last second home loss to the Raptors without Bosh - but that was December. This is February.
What's going on with Kaman?
Who knows? With Brand on the bench in foul trouble, and Tim Thomas icing a hyper-extended knee, Chris was briefly the focal point of the Clippers offense in the third quarter in Cleveland. He responded with an ohfer, missing 3 shots in the quarter, including a wide open 10 footer which he missed by 2 feet in two different directions. Kaman would seem to be uniquely unqualified to deal with his current situation - it's gotten into his head, and he doesn't really need superfluous stuff in there. I still think he should concentrate on rebounding for awhile and let the offense come to him on put backs and finishing passes around the basket. At least he did try to dunk one last night, if unsuccessfully.
Did Maggette really have the flu?
What do you think? Let's be clear - they never said `the flu,' they said `flu-like symptoms'. So, sick to your stomach, headache, that sort of thing. I'd be surprised if he wasn't sick to his stomach and suffering from a massive headache after making the monumental mistake of trashing his coach to the team's beat writers Tuesday night.
What happened to this team's chemistry?
Good question. I do know that in chemistry, little differences can create big overall changes. Take away a single oxygen molecule and harmless carbon dioxide becomes toxic carbon monoxide. And there certainly seems to be something toxic going on with the Clippers right now. The relationship between Maggette and MDsr appears to be the missing oxygen molecule. Of course, Maggette was a reserve and played just over 24 minutes per game in last year's playoff run, and the chemistry seemed great then. But those were good times for the Clippers - they never even experienced back-to-back losses. The high of the Denver domination was followed by intermittent highs of dominating the second-seeded Suns. Dealing with adversity is a different thing.
Is the relationship between Maggette and MDsr beyond repair?
Yes. Let's be clear, it probably was beyond repair before Tuesday, but there's no question now. MDsr doesn't intend to play Corey nearly as much as he wants, and from a player's perspective, that pretty much is the relationship. Until Tuesday, Corey had been pretty professional about the whole thing. And if the team were battling for fourth in the West, as most people assumed they would be, there'd be a lot more incentive to be the brave soldier. But 6th Man (really 8th Man) on a team struggling to make the playoffs? Right, wrong or indifferent, Maggette is simply not going to accept that, and MDsr isn't going to change it.
Will Maggette be traded before the trade deadline?
I'm guessing yes. The trade deadline is two weeks from today, Feb. 22. When Sterling had his `Keep Maggette' talk two weeks ago, he nonetheless left the door open to a trade. And now it looks like it all backfired. MDsr can't afford to be perceived as allowing the owner to make personnel and playing time decisions, so he'll go out of his way to treat Corey as poorly as ever. With the relationship between his coach (who hasn't even started his new four year extension) and his favorite wing reaching a new low, even Sterling knows one of them is gone before next season, if only to try to improve team chemistry. Is the man who tried to withhold a paycheck from Bill Fitch going to fire a coach to whom he owes $25M? Don't count on it.
What can the Clippers get for Maggette now?
If Sterling held his little talk in part because he didn't like the offers that were being reported, it's unlikely the offers are going to improve. As the trade deadline looms and teams get desperate about their playoff positions, the offers get better. But it's the Clippers who just got the most desperate, and everyone knows that. Maggette is a big enough prize that it's still possible a bidding war could drive up the price within two weeks, but don't be surprised if they end up moving him for some salary relief and a young shooter or a first round pick.
What happens if they don't trade him now?
Corey probably regrets what he said - he's not dumb. And you need to remember that although he's never been happy about the reserve role, he's never given less than 100% on the floor, at least not that I've ever noticed. In fact, his defense and rebounding have been improved this season, and those are effort things. He'll soldier on and go somewhere else this summer. But the atmosphere in the locker room will remain toxic.
What's the best case scenario for the rest of this season?
Seemingly down-and-out teams have experienced turnarounds in the past. Denver was 24-29 before the All Star break two seasons ago, and went 25-4 after. Of course that turnaround came with a coaching change. Just last season, Chicago won 10 of their final 11 games to enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league and then put a scare into Miami in the first round of the playoffs, without making any changes. So it can happen. If Corey stays, the best case scenario is some sort of yelling, screaming fight between player and coach, followed by a reconciliation for the good of the team. Team Captains Cassell and Brand need to play a role in resolving this situation, if it is to be resolved. If the team can focus on what worked last year, and find the energy on the defensive end that made them a top five defensive unit, they can make a run after the All Star break and enter the playoffs a dangerous underdog. It is unlikely, but not unprecedented.