After a long, dull September in ClipsNation, October is getting interesting. Yesterday was Media Day, training camp opened this morning, the first pre-season game is a mere 7 days away, and the first game is a month from now. It all begs the question: if my darling bride is the ClipperWife in the off-season, and the ClipperWidow during the season, what is her status during October? I think I have an answer - she's still the ClipperWife - I'm not yet dead to her. But I'm very, very sick. In fact, I'm terminally ill. I think I'm slipping into a coma.
With Clipper coverage in all the southland newspapers today, as well as NBA news from lots of other outlets, I'm forced to resort to bullets, the blogger's crutch.
- The best piece I read today was Kurt Streeter's column in the LA Times. Comparing and contrasting the Lakers' media day to the Clippers', he hit on some major differences between the teams - differences which I believe explain the existence of so many of us who love the Clippers and hate the Lakers. The Lakers behave like royalty, while the Clippers are down to earth, despite the fact that the Clippers have a better cumulative record and more playoff wins over the last three seasons than do the Lakers. And obviously the Lakers have the tradition, but consider this - of the Lakers at Media Day, only Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher have rings, and Fisher has been in Oakland and Salt Lake City the last three seasons (nothing royal about those towns, despite the name of Utah's MLS team). Only four Lakers at Media Day have ever won a playoff series - Luke Walton and Brian Cook were little used rookies on Shaq's final team that lost in the Finals to the Pistons. In other words, there are more current Clippers who have won a playoff series with the team (seven) than there are current Lakers (four). What exactly has THIS Laker team done, that they should be strutting around like rock stars?
And then Kobe leaves. Disappears, really. One moment he's doing a TV interview, and the next he has slipped back out the door.
You look at your notebook and realize it's full of hot air.
- Mark Stein of ESPN released version 1 of his Power Rankings, and has the Clippers 28th. Only Indiana and Minnesota are ranked lower. Really? Seattle is better than the Clippers? (Lots of great young talent, but let's face facts, they lost their top two scorers, both All Stars, from a team that won 31 games). Portland? (32 wins last season, their top scorer is gone to New York, and their franchise rookie is gone to micro-fracture surgery. They figured to struggle WITH Oden, being so young. Who exactly is going to score for that team?) Atlanta? Charlotte? Philadelphia? (No further explanation necessary.) No wonder the Clippers have a chip on their shoulder.
MDsr is indeed going to try to play fast break basketball. At least that's what he said at Media Day.
My hopes are basically to try to play a smaller lineup, extend the defense and create more of an open-court atmosphere.
Elton Brand hinted at this change in philosophy in an interview last week, but I remain skeptical. Not that it's not a good idea - I think it would be wise. But it always seemed clear to me that the Clippers, who frankly struggled to get into their offense last year, should have picked up the tempo long ago, if only to increase the number of easy opportunities. If uptempo makes sense for this team, then it certainly makes sense for a team that includes Elton Brand (who is faster than almost any power forward he matches up against) and Shaun Livingston (who had his wings clipped by MDsr long before his knee imploded). So I'll believe it when I see it. It seems to me that MDsr likes being in control a little too much to let them do a lot of running.
- Although I've still never seen definitive information on Guillermo Diaz' contract, Joe Stevens of the Press-Telegram refers to it as partially guaranteed, labeling Diaz as the odd man out if Dan Dickau is brought in.
The Clippers expect Sam Cassell to start at the point with Knight as the backup. They also expect to sign point guard Dan Dickau on Wednesday, after he is waived by the New York Knicks.
After the Clippers sign Dickau, they will have 15 players with fully guaranteed contracts, meaning that the team already knows its opening-day roster. It also means that Guillermo Diaz, a second-round draft pick from last year who has a partially guaranteed contract, will not be on the roster unless one of those 15 is released.
That is, of course, assuming Dickau is signed, and assuming he signs for guaranteed money. It's been a little dicey assuming too much about the Clippers this off-season.
- Speaking of topsy-turvy assumptions, I mentioned yesterday that Yaroslav Korolev was NOT included on the training camp roster the team released yesterday, despite reports last week that he would be. Art Thompson III of the OC Register says that it's not over 'til it's over.
Yaroslav Korolev, the Clippers' 2006 lottery pick, whose third-year option was declined, was not at media day but is contemplating accepting a training camp invitation.
Man, what a soap opera. Contemplating accepting an invitation? Either get on a plane to Europe or get up to Santa Barbara. What are your other options, exactly?
Thompson has more in a very interesting blog post from camp in Santa Barbara. It's as critical as I've seen anyone (other than me, of course) be of MDsr's ill-fated selection of Korolev in the 2005 lottery. Do blogs make people nastier? Or just more truthful? Anyway, the mystery ended today when it was announced (finally) that Korolev would indeed report to camp.
- Jim Alexander covers the Clippers for the Riverside Press-Enterprise. He must have a few other jobs for them too, because he doesn't get a lot of chances to write about the Clippers, which is a shame, because I really enjoy reading his stuff. I thought his media day coverage summarized the situation better than most: the optimism (perhaps unfounded, but what can you do?), the question of uptempo, the importance of Kaman... but the thrust of his piece was spot on: "Clippers mission is to stay afloat until Brand returns." That's really the whole deal, right?