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DTS and the Lebron Proposal


My sense is that the Clippers and Olshey will be well-prepared to answer any MDSr. questions in the interview with Lebron.  In the first place, it's just too obvious a stumbling block for them not to address it.  The trick is that it's not just a matter of clearing the slate, but of making a pitch to show that the Clippers are capable of making the leap into being an elite NBA team.

The Dunleavy situation is a private matter at this point, which will be resolved in some simple way, if it hasn't been already.  DTS and the Clippers aren't going to stiff Dunleavy, but they may be trying to mitigate their payment somehow, looking at the finer points of the contract.  We don't really know.  The problem for the Clips is that it's just the type of thing that the media uses to dismiss their credibility.

Hiring a coach this week will give the Clips another chance to address the MDSr. situation, going into the Lebron proposals.  If KA's report about Casey and VDN is correct, the Clips aren't going to be making a splashy announcement about hiring an elite-level coach to an expensive long-term contract.  There's no Phil or Larry Brown or Popovich out there.  But it appears that the Clips will make a solid, strong decision based on careful reasoning, and not somebody that they're getting on the cheap either.

The Clips are making careful, deliberate steps heading into this free agency period, apparently, starting with the draft.  And it seems as if we can expect an announcement on the coach in a timely manner, showcasing the Clippers and their assets just as the free agency period begins.  

The Clippers know that signing Lebron is a longshot, even with the strength of their proposal and their roster.  The team is currently being built so that LBJ would be an amazing addition, but they have a variety of backup plans to move forward and improve and become competitive.

My guess is that one part of their pitch will be the old line about DTS being willing to pay star money for star players. They made a strong effort to sign Kobe, and came close.  They signed Baron Davis, showing that they would do whatever was necessary to complement their star player Elton Brand, and they made FElton an offer that they felt was the best they could do to build a winning team, but FElton chose to go elsewhere.  The Clips dodged a bullet on that one, as it turns out, perhaps even better than Olowokancer turning down their generous contract offer years before.  The money will be there if LBJ is interested in going to the team with the best existing roster in the best market for his media ambitions.

The obstacles are clearly formidable, but they're mostly matters of perception.  The LA Times, for instance, where DTS buys more ad space than any one else, could have studied this situation in depth going into this week, and presented some of the arguments above or the issues that SP pointed out in his post.  They could have done some actual reporting, looking more deeply into the coaching decision, the MDSr. situation, and the Clips own attitude about their proposal.  Instead, of course, we get a rehash of how we're all sitting on the edge of our seats about Phil's decision and Laker cost-cutting, although notes on Laker luxury tax payments are noticeably missing.  The Lebron situation is addressed by Heisler, with the Clips dismissed in the final paragraph, using the MDSr. contract situation in one of its three sentences.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned, I don't think, is the idea of turning LBJ into the pillar of the Clippers franchise, in something like the same way that Magic Johnson became a Laker partner.  Magic obviously played his way into this special status.  But Lebron is trying to make a critical, blockbuster business decision, and he's trying to change the game and the way that a superstar player functions within it.  The discussion of David Geffen buying into the Clippers was an intriguing trial balloon, showing a way that the Clippers might go from night to day in a moment.  We also know, according to TrueHoop's careful analysis of WW Wes, Lebron's protege, that talent agency CAA is now a player in these discussions in some way.  WW Wes (forgetting his last name) now represents coaches, and it would be a good sign if the Clips hire one of his clients.  But that aside, the Geffen moment suggests a way that DTS might be able to sweeten the pot.  He can't make LBJ a partner and owner, but he can indicate that he would be willing to do so, that he would open up a road to future Magic-level participation in the future and ownership of the franchise. You don't see Kobe getting it, Shaq was traded, and Bird never got the Magic deal with the Celtics.  There's nothing to suggest that DTS wouldn't sour and quibble on a promised deal like this down the road, but that shouldn't stop DTS and the Clippers from discussing and proposing it, if they're going to be talking about trying to win championships and take over the town.    
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