I've been thinking about the last few offseasons with this team and I have to say that each one had been better than the season itself. The summer after the our playoff run, I remember picturing a seasoned Shaun Livingston asserting his place as the starting point guard on this team and becoming one of the more talked about players in the league. I pictured the Clippers getting back into the playoffs and at least repeating their performance and making it as far as the second round and maybe even the Western Conference finals depending on how the seedings go. The following year didn't go as we hoped because we lost Shaun early in the season and barely missed the playoffs. That summer, I remember looking forward to Brand and Kaman's play as both worked very hard in the offseason to get in phenomenal shape. Unfortunately, one of those practice sessions resulted in Brand's injury. Kaman had a monster season, and I thought that Kaman 2.0 and Brand, along with the impending return of Livingston & Maggette...and our rookie (Thornton) just had an outstanding season. I started to hope again. Then Brand pulled a Boozer...BUT we had just signed Baron (and later Camby) along with a trio of rookies named Gordon, Jordan, and Taylor. I dared to dream of great things...again. Now the season is over and I have to say that I'm looking for something to get excited about again.
Dunleavy promises no major shakeup on the way for the roster... Great. I think I saw ClipperChuck saying that he'd like to introduce some anarchy and blow things up just a little... Been there, done that this season already... Stability. Familiarity. Camaraderie. Chemistry. All great things to strive for. Is it time for a new coach? Maybe. Don't laugh. I'm actually being serious. No, really. Yes, really! Before all you form a lynch mob, just hear me out a little. Yes, it IS true that maybe the change in coaching may very well be needed because the players may have already stopped believing in Dunleavy and his staff. I've previously made my interests in getting a Flip Saunders to coach the team, personally. BUT the reason I'm not going there at this time is this: Dunleavy and his coaching staff, as bad of a fit as he may be at this time, really has BEEN THERE and DONE THAT so he has as impressive a resume, if not more so, than the remaining coaches out there: He's taken 3 of his 4 NBA teams to the playoffs. His Lakers went to the playoffs twice and lost in the Finals to Jordan's Bulls. His Blazers made the playoffs four years in a row and were in the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers. His 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years with Clippers resulted in a reasonable number of wins and we almost made it into the Western Conference Finals. I AGREE WITH ALL OF YOU that putting a inexperienced guard without the height or reach advantage who also hadn't played the whole game on Raja Bell was a dumb, dumb, dumb thing to do. BUT in the same game, a proven veteran like Sam Cassell shouldn't be caught with a half-court-violation when we were comfortably in the lead by 3 points AND the ball with less than 24 seconds from the Western Conference finals. The point I am making is that there COACHING can only take a team so far.
I AM NOT SAYING THAT DUMBLEAVY NEVER HAS BRAIN FARTS. Not at all. What I am saying, and the point of all this, is that there's always two sides to a story. Always. Whether we like it or not. Whether we feel like our girlfriend was lying, cheating, b*tch...there's always her side claiming that we were always too busy watching our Clipper games driving her to cheat and b*tch about us not giving her enough attention. You get the drift... I believe DUMBleavy when he says that he and his staff never take the day off. I do. I believe his claims that he and his staff are available for extra coaching sessions. I do believe that has done his part. He prepared for his opponent. He prepared the gameplan. He coached. In short: DUMBleavy and his staff delivered their end of the bargain. They showed up. Maybe not with the right gameplan, but he developed one regardless. Maybe not with the right use of personnel, but he coached, regardless. HE AND HIS STAFF, COMPETENT OR NOT, DID THEIR PART. Could we say the same of the players? Gordon? Yes. The rest of the team...? You see, I don't put the blame on this ridiculous joke of a season on the coach. Even our beloved Ralph and Mike would likely argue that they hear Dunleavy identifying plays and opportunities on the court, as they develop and BEFORE any of his players figure it out for themselves, and calls it out to his players all through the game. Yes, they tuned him out. But, again, he did his part.
I BLAME THE PLAYERS. I blame Baron. I blame Ricky Davis. I blame Zach Randolph. I blame Tim Thomas. I blame all of the FAT, OUT OF SHAPE, UNPROFESSIONAL, UNMOTIVATED, LAZY, SPOILED, and OVERPAID players on the roster. Each of them needs to take a long look in mirror and, for once, just BE REAL. I call it as I see it. There was no effort on the court. There was even less effort off of it. To all of those players--damn you all to hell, you ungrateful (CENSORED)!!!! You can sit in your mansions and drive around in your Bentleys/Royces/Benzes and not putting in any hard work while the rest of us work our assess off to make a living and spend our hard-earned money buying tickets to watch a little quality basketball with friends and family...but none of could be bothered to try to even put on a good showing. Getting paid millions to play a game...and can't even be bothered to show up and play...!? WTF? You may as well have mugged us on the street and taken what money we had in our wallets--we could have very well come out ahead because we wouldn't have had time to go to the bank to get more money for parking and food. (and maybe spent more time with the aforementioned gf/spouse/lover/friend, etc...LOL)
I'm pissed off... Can you tell? We lost our KTLA games because these MULTImillionaires couldn't be bothered. We lost our AM710 because these MULTImillionaires couldn't be bothered. Dumb (CENSORED)!!! So, here I am again, along with all you GREAT GREAT LOYAL (to a fault) FANS...looking for something to look forward to. I'd love to get Griffin...but I'd convert him to a small forward a la LeBron and keep Randolph at 4. If we fall outside of the top 2 picks, I stand by my previous blog to get more players in the first round by trading away Kaman to the Thunder for both of their picks. I'd use our first pick to get Rubio or Harden (IF and ONLY IF Griffin was unavailable). I'd use the second and third picks for role players: Sam Young & Tyler Hansborough. OR I'd package both picks and one more player from our roster (Camby) for GREG MONROE and his sky high potential...!
Best of luck to all of us and let us all hope that Baron, Zach, Kaman, and Ricky D all get off their respective assess and do some P90X. Fred Jones and Mardy Collins--same thing. Mike Taylor. You have the physical tools. Work on the mental aspect of the game a la Rajon, Parker, and CP3. DeAndre...umm...where to start? Get on the court. Work on positioning and boxing out. Shoot LOTS and LOTS and LOTS and yet more free throws because with your game, you will be fouled a lot. Someone blogged about more repetitions with other shots as well--good tip. Then hit the gym: HIGH WEIGHT, LOW REPS. RINSE. REPEAT. DAILY. NIGHTLY. Etc. Do it and you will make tens of millions of dollars in the NBA. I guarantee it. Al Thornton. Learn from Pippen. Learn from Jordan/Dominique. Hit the weight room when DeAndre goes. Eric Gordon. Speak up in the locker room. Don't defer to our higher draft pick from this season, because no matter who it is, (and that includes the #1 pick) you are the franchise, whether you like it or not. And, finally, take the league by the balls next season.
Happy offseason to all of us...may we all dream of better days ahead for our club...and may we all see the Lakers be humbled and sent to their inevitable spiral down the toilet if they somehow manage to NOT win it all this season...because at 74 million committed to only 8 players out of the minimum REQUIRED by the collective bargaining agreement (and none of the money earmarked for Odom OR Ariza...) they will have a REALLY REALLY interesting summer if Kobe doesn't win the championship and opts out of his contract ...