I’ve been watching Clipper games for over 15 years. I live for it; any day with no game is my least favorite day of the week. Because of a strong desire to experience something other than CA for awhile I’m moving to Austin, TX next week to pursue a career in looking for work.
I just felt like doing a bit of a reflection on the future of the club before I’m not able to watch games and I’m left to merely observe the collective genius that is, ClipsNation.
As I'm sure is the same with all of you, a large part of the enjoyment of being a true-blue clipper fan is being part of ClipsNation.com and having somewhere to go to have in-depth conversation, debate, and repartee about our favorite ball club. I’m pretty happy that this experience goes with me wherever I go, even if I can’t afford league pass to watch the games. (I’ll be the guy asking for live feeds at the beginning of game threads now) So, the point being… Hell yeah Steve and the rest of the gang, ya’ll rock! Clipps4life!
Also shout out to the CitizenZhiv types of this blog that always provide meaningful journalistic quality input into the blog. You know who you are and you all make it interesting. I for one wish I could be a more consistently good poster like you guys. Mad Props, it doesn't go unnoticed... +1,000,000 to you all! Thanks for saving me from the hacks at ESPN.
Now, on to the reflecting stuff.
As many a time before in our wonderful Clipper fairyfail, I mean fairytale, we came into this season expecting glowing success, you all recall why we felt that way. Needless to type, it didn’t happen. No need to hash it out in a recap of a kneecap that became salary cap. So let’s look forward as we’ve become experts at doing. Hell, I’d go as far as to say we’re a bunch of self-proclaimed Miss Cleo’s of Clipper future with GMMDSr’s bald head as our magic crystal ball… did I take that too far?
All I felt before the recent trades was… “Oh well, hopefully we can clear enough cap-space to sign Lebron James, or one of the knock-off versions of him, and then maybe grab Rasual & Rhino (a sitcom I’m pitching) and make a good run next season.”
Then the trade deadline 3 for 3 change happened. Concurrently, I was thinking about the free agency scenario and watching the boys, new and relatively old, win the past three games.
I’ve never had the opportunity to watch the Clippers as a team who has a franchise player that drops 25 or 30 pts a game and who is the go to guy at the end of a shot clock, quarter, and game. We’ve just never had that in my tenure as fan. And as ridiculous as it may sound, I think I’d prefer to keep it that way… let me explain.
Okay, Lebron says yes, you roll out the red carpet. Build around him, win titles. No doubt a new future for the team that would involve lots of attention, bright lights and a heavy win column.
Or do you??
When I look at the three superstars; Kobe, Wade, James, I see a couple things worth noting. None of them have single-handedly taken a mediocre supporting cast to a championship. Feel free to argue me on this. But Lebron doesn’t have one at all, Kobe needed Shaq, Gasol and other high caliber help in many playoff situations and Wade needed what might have been the last resurrection of Shaq. On a side note, if Shaq ends up being the missing link for all three of them to win championships, that’s pretty fascinating. Anyways, I’m not sure, other than Lebron, we want to drop a max contract on anyone other than him. Even if we did get him, I just feel like we’d only be five or six deep with a max contract signing. And as injury plagued as we’ve always been, I’m not sure I like that.
It has been the teams like the Spurs who are well worthy of the Dynasty title. I believe because they made a well-rounded team and focused on the less popular specifics like defense, deep benches and good team play is why they were able to stay in the hunt for a decade and not a couple years. Yeah, Duncun is a hall of famer, but he’s not the superstar. He strongly relied on his quality supporting cast.
Here’s the realistic scenario I’d like to play out. I use realistic lightly because I don’t know the details of salary space we have for my scenario, but I’ll do my best to keep it within reason. Also, the other caveat is that the new team is only three games old. But I’m going off the assumption that given their recent success they are only going to improve once they’ve played together for more time. So here we go…
I say build on what we have.
* Keep our starting five intact except the PF position. Resign Butler and obviously put Blake Griffin at the starting four.
* See how the rest of the season progresses for Craig Smith and Drew Gooden. Choose the best fit for back-up PF. My guess is Drew Gooden is the best fit because he can play the four and five, flexibility being extremely important. Craig can’t offer that, he’s a lock at back-up four. I think he has to go.
* Keep Deandre as the back up at center and develop him as much as possible. If he struggles, play Gooden and limit Deandre’s minutes.
* Sign a quality veteran shooting guard to back up Gordon, I need some help here guys. I like free agent Raja Bell. Is Ray Allen ready to be a 6th man yet? Is he too expensive? I don’t know, let’s stick with Raja to keep it realistic.
* Keep Bobby Brown to be flexible to back up the pg/sg positions behind Baron, Eric, Steve, and Raja
* Pick up a nice player in the draft to develop at the SF or PF and provide the same third tier support like Bobby Brown does.
* Bring in one or two more players to round out the third tier roster and cover whatever the draft pick didn’t cover. If the draft pick covers the SF position bring back Novak, if the draft pick covers the PF, bring back Mardy Collins.
So here's how it looks -
PG – Baron Davis (Steve Blake)
SG – Eric Gordon (Raja Bell)
SF – Rasual Butler (Travis Outlaw)
PF – Blake Griffin (Drew Gooden/C)
C – Chris Kaman (Deandre Jordan)
Third Tier – Bobby Brown being flexible at the pg/sg
Draft pick at the SF or PF
Novak and/or Collins to round out
What I like about this scenario is that the head coach has a near flawless roster in relation to depth and overall/even talent. You also put your trust in some really great players by giving them nice contracts, and you make it clear they’re all important pieces of the puzzle as opposed to “Bow to your leader, Lebron”. This also gives the coach at least a few powers I can think of that he might not have if salary was dumped in one big contract.
- He can replace players in the starting lineup who are not performing without worrying about sacrificing talent to make his point.
- He knows these players, team chemistry, confidence, players who know each other... all that stuff.
- He can throw all kinds of line-ups to confuse opposing teams. We’ll never struggle with weak second units, overplaying stars and such.
- I believe a big strength about the players we have now is that the backups have different strengths then the starters yet still compliment each other. Baron is completely different than Steve, Butler and Outlaw play differently; Griffin will be different than Gooden, Kaman and Deandre obviously have different talents. Imagine the headache of a scouting report for opposing teams.
- I could argue that the second unit is only a sliver weaker then the starting five. Strength in numbers.
I know that what I’ve said is the perfect scenario, and that’s not in Clipper vocabulary. But I think there’s logic to my reasoning. I feel a little nervous about throwing this out there to you guys who are a lot more educated about this stuff, but I trust you'll go easy on me.