There's a certain pride discernible in GMMDsr's approach to the team right now. You can tell that he feels pretty good about where the roster is at this point. He's not taking credit for the blind luck of winning the lottery - but he's made some systematic moves in the wake of drafting Blake Griffin that have been really logical. It remains to be seen how the team will play when the season starts - but the word that keeps coming to mind about the moves this off-season is 'coherent'.
Drafting Griffin was a no-brainer of course. But the one vein that reporters tried to mine for controversy or doubt prior to the draft was the 'backlog' in the front court. After all, the Clippers' leading scorer and most expensive player from last season plays the same position as Griffin. Well, all the team has done since then, via three separate trades, is turn Zach Randolph into the primary back up (or even one potential starter, see below) at four positions on the floor (the fifth position already going three deep). Given the youth movement, simply shedding Randolph for nothing might have been considered addition by subtraction - adding Telfair, Smith, Butler and yes, even Madsen, is also addition by addition.
Dena of the Clippers will likely have the full video of the interviews up on their YouTube channel before I've finished this post, so I'm not going to try to regurgitate everything here (if it's not there yet, keep checking). But the highlights from MDsr included:
- He was actively reaching out to teams over the luxury tax with players they liked. The Hornets and Butler were high on that list. The Hornets were initially reluctant, but eventually decided to move forward.
- As I was trying to think of a tactful way to ask the question, Kevin took care of it for me: "Can you envision a scenario in which Butler would be the starter at small forward?" Coach went with the "It's a competition" answer. But it's pretty clear it's not a competition at the 1, the 2 or the 4. So take that for it's worth.
- Coach emphasized (as he has in the press recently) the importance of guys coming into camp in shape. He also shared this tidbit: he considers a player 'in shape' if they can run the three man weave, three passes and a layup, for 10 layups in 60 seconds, and do that three times. There were players on the team last season that NEVER reached that point, all season. He also implied that some of last season's injuries were at least partially due to poor conditioning, saying that there is such a thing as being "injury-prone" as it relates to conditioning. Bottom line - expect conditioning to be a major theme from now through training camp.
- The quote of the interview though was when I asked him if he thought the roster was at a point where he could be less active on the phones now, despite having more of that trade exception to work with. He said no. "I get up in the morning, read what you guys have written, see if any of it makes sense, and start working the phones." So I followed up saying "Coach reads Clips Nation" and he said "Coach reads Clips Nation." So keep posting your trade ideas, and if it happens, you can take the credit. Butler goes to Citizen hans007.
For his part, Butler seems like a really good guy, and happy to be here. He said he feels like the Clippers are "a playoff team." He said he views himself as a veteran presence, and that he's willing to do what the coach asks him to do, whether that's start or come off the bench, play the two or the three. And then most of the rest of the conversation was between him and Eric Pincus, who are both obsessed with Twitter. (Seriously, it will be interesting having such an active Tweeter on the team - Butler is easily the most prolific Clipper, even more active the DeAndre Jordan.)