The contest is simple, but the task is hard. Whoever submits the best plan for fixing the team wins two free tickets to the Atlanta game on Jan 30, 2008. The second place entry wins a pair of tickets to see Charlotte on Jan 28. Ticket prizes are courtesy of Barry's Tickets. There will be no voting on this one. ClipperSteve will be the sole judge and his rulings are FINAL.
From now until Jan. 25th, submit your plan for fixing the team via a diary, however you think you can do it, and in whatever timeframe you think is realistic. Points will be awarded for originality, pragmatism and feasibility. Points will be deducted for ignoring rules like the salary cap or for unrealistic flights of fancy (i.e. Corey Maggette plus Sam Cassell is a salary match for LeBron James, but Cleveland ain't doing that deal).
- Be thorough - Tell me the twelve man roster for opening day 2008. Extra points for giving me fifteen roster spots (or fourteen and an open spot if you prefer). Tell me their 2008 salary. Extra points for telling me the length of their contracts. Tell me the starters and primary backups at each position.
- Be detailed - Tell me what deals happen when. Who is getting dealt in the next 6 weeks before the trade deadline, what happens in the off-season, who do you pick up in the draft, etc?
- Be real - Livingston, Ross, Cassell, Williams, Frahm, Davis and Dickau are all going to be free agents. If any of them are on your 2008 roster, tell me how they got there and how much they're making. Maggette and Brand have player options - if you keep them, tell me how. Likewise, Mobley, Kaman, Thomas, Knight and Thornton have guaranteed contracts for next season. If they DON'T figure in your 2008 team, then how did you get rid of them. (I'm unsure on Powell's contract - let's assume for this exercise that the next two years on his contract are only partially guaranteed. In other words, if you want to get rid of him, you can do it cheaply, and it's just money. I won't count it against your 08 cap number.)
- Be frugal - You're working for the Clippers here. Stay under the luxury tax threshold. Or, if you go over the threshold, tell me how you convinced Sterling to do so. For instance, if you have a Celtic-esque plan to put Brand, Kobe and Kidd on the same team, and you really truly believe it could happen save for the luxury tax, and it means competing for a ring in the 2009 playoffs, make your case. But be warned - I don't see any realistic circumstances in which the Clippers exceed the tax threshold in 2008.
- Be honest - If you trade for a draft pick, the team has to have the draft pick you receive in return. And you don't just win the lottery. Assume all draft positions come from the standings at the time of your analysis. That means the Clippers are picking 6th and 36th or thereabouts. If you trade Cassell to Denver to reunite him with Karl in exchange for a first round pick, that is the 24th pick. Any rookies on your 2008 roster have to be realistic for their draft position. If you plan to fill the 14th spot with a generic big drafted in the second round, fine. Call that player 'generic big drafted in the second round.' But no fair having OJ Mayo magically fall to the Clippers with the 36th pick.
- Be savvy - Demonstrate your knowledge of the NBA and the Clippers by addressing the team's needs. In other words, don't trade for Yao and start a front line of Yao, Kaman and Brand. Who's a good fit for this team? What do they need? Are they more in need of veterans or young blood?
- Be bold - If you think the best plan would be to blow the team up, i.e. get rid of Brand now, then get out the dynamite, Yosemite Sam. You might want to make it more of a 3 year plan in that case.
- Current Clippers salary information from Hoops Hype (you can select other teams from there).
- ESPN.com Trade Machine.
- 2008 draft information including traded and conditional picks.
- Salary Cap FAQ.
For the purposes of this exercise, assume the following figures are in place for 2008-2009:
- Salary cap = $59M
- Luxury Tax Theshold = $70M
- Mid Level Exception = $6M
We don't know what the actual numbers will be at this point, but these are good guesses, and they are nice and round for us to do our math.
- MBFGC can be on your 2008 roster, but given his current weight situation, you cannot assume that he is a significant contributor in 2008. He is at best roster filler (and boy can he fill a roster).
- The T-Wolves pick left from the Cassell deal is top 10 protected until the 2012 draft. Since the Wolves are awful, that pick is off the table for the 2008 draft. You may however use the pick as a trading chip of course. Other than the Wolves pick, the Clippers have no other shenanigans in future drafts. They own their picks, they do not own any additional picks.
- In the 2008 free agency market, the Clippers have the mid-level exception to use. Other than that, you're signing people to minimum deals. If you want to make an offer above the mid-level, you have to tell me how you cleared the cap space to do so. If you want to do a sign-and-trade, fine, but once again points will be deducted for reality-disconnects.
- Shaun Livingston will be a restricted free agent. We don't know at this point how his comeback will go, and therefore we have no idea what his value might be on the open market. As a reality-check, the minimum you can sign Shaun for is his current qualifying offer of $5.8M. Maybe that's too much, but we have to have some ground rules. Shaun can accept the one year qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2009, a distinct possibility if he intends to prove to doubters than he can play an entire season injury-free.
Entries are due by midnight, Friday, Jan. 25th. Winners will be announced by noon, Monday, Jan. 28th. (All times are Pacific.) If you think you've got a shot at winning, try to keep the 28th and 30th open so that you can attend the games! Tickets are of course courtesy of our friends at Barry's Tickets. Winners will pick up their tickets at Barry's office on Figueroa by Staples Center on the day of the game.
Now go... FIX THE CLIPS!