As coach MDsr conducts exit interviews with his team, I thought I would do the same. Here's what I would tell each player from the 07-08 players about their performance, what to work on in the off-season, and whether they should be renting or buying in the LA area. First up, Quinton Ross.
Quinton Ross had a disappointing 2007-2008, there's really no denying it. A talented and tenacious defender on the perimeter, few players in the NBA are better at staying in front of their man. Sure, I may be influenced to some extent by the effusive praise heaped on him by Milph (some might even call it encomiastic), but I've also watched a lot of basketball, and there's no mistake: Quinton Ross can play defense.
What he can't do is score. In his first three seasons, he was considered an offensive liability. Although he converted a respectable percentage of wide open jump shots, his range did not extend to the three point line, and he was something of a train wreck off the dribble. Even asking him to catch the ball on the perimeter and then make a pass was a bit out of his comfort zone. He is on the verge of a full-blown panic attack whenever he has the ball.
Entering his fourth season, with Shaun Livingston and Elton Brand injured and only two shooting guards on the opening day roster, Ross figured to get a few more looks on offense whether he was ready or not. And we were told that he'd worked to expand his range out to the three point line in the off-season. Bruce Bowen has started for four championship teams with little more offensive skill than Ross, but the one thing he can do is make a corner three. You don't have to do a lot more, if you can stand in the corner and force the other team to keep an eye on you or make them pay if they don't.
Well, the three point range improvement proved to be a reality, to some extent. After making only 3 in his first 3 seasons in the league, he made 5 of 10 in the first month of this season. Unfortunately, he rarely took them, and he stopped making anything else. He finished 9 for 21 from three point range - 43%. But he only shot 39% overall.
This is a guy who was considered an offensive liability when he was making almost 47% of his shots in 06-07. What word can we use to describe him when he's shooting 39%?
The truth of the matter is, the 07-08 Clippers were the wrong team for Quinton Ross. Like Bruce Bowen, Ross has a function on a good team. On the floor with four scorers, he can crash the offensive boards, shoot the occasional open jumper, and concentrate almost entirely on defense. But on the floor with Brevin Knight and Josh Powell, on a team where every offensive possession is a struggle, there's no place for a defensive specialist. So it was a bad situation to begin with, and it got much worse when he shot a career low from the field.
No one is more upset about this than Quinton Ross. You see, Q signed a 4 year minimum contract with the Clippers in 2004. When he was starting on a Western Conference Semifinalist while making $700K, he looked to be one of the biggest bargains in the league. And although I'm sure he was thrilled at the time to get a long term offer from the Clippers, he has probably been counting the days until he became a free agent, so that he could start raking in the big money. There's no telling exactly how much money Quinton Ross cost himself this season. There was a time I thought that it was possible a team might offer him the mid-level exception (about $6M per) this summer - now I'm not so sure he's going to get more than the veteran's minimum.
He still has value to a good team. And you can make an argument that the Clippers will be good enough for him to have value in their system again (or at least they may think that is true). But this really feels like an experiment that has run its course. If you're MDsr, I think you have to say, "Hey, we gave it a shot. We took the sleeper from SMU and the Belgian league, we gave him a chance to be a big time defender, and now it's time to do something else." Surely I'm not the only one who wants to put more shooters on the floor? Maybe it's an overreaction, but after the pain of watching the Clippers try to score this season, I don't think I can handle seeing Quinton Ross and Brevin Knight in the same backcourt again.
Prior to the trade deadline, the rumor was that Phoenix was interested in Ross. That would actually make a lot of sense. The Suns are a good team that can put 4 other scorers on the floor when Ross is out there. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me, given the confidence that comes from a light that is always green, if Ross ended up taking and making a lot of threes if he ends up playing for Mike D'Antoni.
I like Quinton Ross. He is a fantastic defender. But I have the feeling that his Clipper career is over.