Moving past Feb 7, 2012

As you may have noticed, the FanPosts the sidebar have been empty this morning aside from the Recommended section. SBNation was experiencing some performance problems that were apparently related to FanPosts, and so this precaution has been put in place while the support team is investigating further. In the mean time, I promoted this one to the front page. You can still access New FanPosts by clicking here, or by choosing "All FanPosts" from the sidebar and then sorting by "Recently Posted". Steve

Not everyone knew what we were getting when he signed his deal with the Clippers. We all hoped he could contribute at a high level. We hoped this would be a good fit for him, that signing in Los Angeles would reignite his basketball career, and he could help bring the Clippers to new found heights. But February 7 2012 would put an end to that dream in the cruelest of fashions.

Solomon Jones has been waived by the Clippers.

In all seriousness, the loss of Chauncey Billups for the year with a torn Achilles is a problem for the Clippers. By signing Chris Paul this offseason, the Clips launched themselves into the spotlight and got a superstar (and to date, a legitimate MVP candidate). But the aquisition caused some roster problems. Prior to losing Chauncey, the Clippers really had 5 point guards on the roster (counting Foye as a pg) and no true shooting guard. We also have no true back up center, which is why Solomon Jones was on the roster to begin with. Yet the experiment has been a success thus far, with Billups playing the shooting guard spot admirably. With his injury, the Clippers will now likely insery Randy Foye into the starting lineup and continue to bring Mo WIlliams off the bench, as he has been excellent in his reserve role this season. There is no reason to think the Clippers cannot still be a competitive team with a chance to make a run as currently construed. Chris Paul is fantastic, Caron Butler has been even better than expected, Blake Griffin appears to be hitting his stride, and Deandre Jordan continues to improve as a basketball player every night. But Neil Olshey and the Clipper's front office need to find a way to bolster this lineup going forward, and its going to take some creativity to make it happen.

With a quality starter at every other position, the priority must be to acquire a shooting guard. A quick analysis of the Clipper payroll, trade chips, and available shooting guard talent and one quickly realizes that the options to make a move via trade are pretty bleak. The alternative option, and a name that has been thrown around for some time is JR Smith. Smith, the former Denver Nugget and current expatriate, will no doubt be a polarizing figure among any fan base. He has a reputation of being a "chucker" and a hot head, and despite possessing tremendous talent, never played his way into starter minutes in Denver under George Karl. But the fact remains that JR Smith IS a tremendous basketball talent and a free agent who just so happens to be exacly what the Clippers need in the wake of Chauncey's Injury.

Per 36 numbers:

Chauncey Billups (thuis year)

pts: 17.7, asst: 4.7, reb: 3.0 stl: .5 3pt%: 38.4 FG%: 36.4 TOV: 2.4 FGA/game 13.5

JR SMITH (2010/2011)

pts:17.7 asst: 3.2 Reb: 5.9 Stl: 1.7 3pt%: 39 FG % 43 TOV: 1.8 FGA/Game: 14.3

Pretty interesting stuff here. Looking at the numbers, it seems that JR is pretty perfect replacement for Chauncey in our offense. He rivals Billups three point shooting and actually shoots a better percentage from the field (and thats true for career numbers, not just the numbers seen above). Chauncey, a natural point guard is the better passer, while Smith, younger and more athletic, is the superior rebounder, and come away with more steals. He has never been known for his defense, but I thought JR Smith made some strides in this area in his last NBA season, and the improvement in rebounding shows that he was working harder on the court. It also helps being 6-6 amd 26 years old. The effort hasn't always been there, but the ability has.

So why does JR agree to sign with the Clippers? Well in addition to getting to play in Los Angeles at Staples Center (an minor upgrade over the home court of the Zhejiang Golden Bulls) the Clippers just signed his former team mate Kenyon Martin to a deal. Perhaps more importantly, the Clippers can now offer JR Smith a starting spot, something that could not be said when Chauncey was still healthy. Add to that the ability to play with Chris Paul and the open looks he can get, and it seems the Clippers are a great fit. With few other clubs having the ability to make an overwhelming offer, the chance to be a contributing factor on a playoff team for a (and championship contender) could go a long way for JR when he tries to get a long term deal next year. And his desire to get a new contract could be an insurance policy for the Clippers, as he is likely to behave himself under these circumstances.

It might all be for nothing, as JR still has to find a way to make it out of China, and the Clippers need to find a way to pay him. But this would be a mutually beneficial partnership, and could be exactly what the Clippers need to make a deep push. The Clippers can't replace Chauncey Billups savvy or leadership, but they can replace his scoring, and I believe they need to. Whether or not they try to get a deal done for Smith, the Clippers must move forward and make a move to improve this club, because we still have a chance to be very special this season.

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