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And the Winner is...

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It's time to announce the winners of the Fix the Clips contest.  Let me start by saying a few things.  

I was really impressed with the plans submitted.  There are of course two sides to every trade, so there's no way of knowing if Elgin Baylor could actually execute on these plans if he tried, but the vast majority of them are realistic and purposeful.  NBA teams do things every year that seem to make less sense than these plans created by armchair GM's.  

I was also pleased by the number of entries.  14 submissions (15 if you count John R twice) is certainly gratifying to me, especially when you consider the thought and effort that was involved.  It was not my primary objective, but the contest generated a lot of really good user created content for the site, so thanks for that.  Also, judging by the entries, there were a fair number of lurkers who came out of the shadows: readers of Clipsnation who had not become full fledged citizens.  Hopefully we've added some active, involved members of our little online community here, which would be the best result of all.

Finally, I think you all understand this, but it needs to be said.  There's nothing scientific in the judging.  At the end, the winning submissions probably just match my own thinking better than the others.  There's no right or wrong answer, no empirical method for selecting the best plan.  Some worked for me, others didn't.  Having said that, I'm also looking for creativity.  For instance, the handful of 'stand pat' plans are fine.  In the end, it may make the most sense, especially considering the potential chemistry issues of making big changes.  It may well be the best possible plan, and it's more than likely what the Clippers will do.  But it's not very exciting, and none of the stand pat plans won any fabulous prizes as a result.  At any rate, if I didn't select your plan for the grand prize, no whining or complaining.  The judge's decisions are final.

As I mentioned, there were 15 plans if you count the two submitted by John R.  They fell into five broad categories:

  • Stand pat - citizens mp and zhivclip would stand pat, right down to keeping Maggette and even Cassell if it's reasonable.  Like I said, it's a valid approach.  The combination of EB and K2 is tantalizing, and a Kaman like emergence for Livingston, though it might be too much to hope for, is not out of the question.  Brand (28), Kaman (25) and Livingston (22) could yet form the nucleus of a great NBA team.
  • Free agency - Citizens Clipjoint and Keepgoing748 would keep the 'untouchable' nucleus in place, avoid any big contracts in trades, and try to sign some free agents this summer.  Clipjoint would go after a decent free agent with the mid-level (Juan Carlos Navarro and Mickael Pietrus are on his short list).  Keepgoing748 would try to get a big trade exception from the Warriors to go after a bigger free agent (Josh Childress or even Gilbert Arenas).  
  • Trade for young, cheap pieces - Citizens Cars50 and Ghost of Gary Grant would move the most tradeable Clippers (Cassell and/or Maggette) in exchange for youth and athleticism - guys on their rookie deal, who might be able to help, and are not paid a lot.  Cars50 has his eye on Kelenna Azubuike to play the two while Gary is targeting Linas Kleiza and Marco Belinelli.
  • Trade for established players - about half of the plans target a specific player that the mastermind thinks would help the Clippers, and try to work out the trades necessary to acquire that particular player without messing with the untouchables - Brand, Kaman and Livingston.  Not all of the target acquistions are all stars - but they are all good, and none of them would be cheap to acquire.  As always, the ones that come cheaper, come with baggage.  Here is the list of the Citizen and his (her?) major acquisition -
  • Finally, there are the 'blow it up' plans.  Citizen toycannon would trade Kaman while his stock is high, and would even trade Elton Brand.  And John R., feeling dystopian (or is he just dyspeptic?) after reading TJ Simers, predicts a return to the days of low payrolls, and lots of losses.  It could happen.
On to the awards.

Honorable mention

These citizens get absolutely nothing beyond the knowledge that their plans piqued my interest in the extreme, and they almost won a fabulous prize.  So congratulations on that.

  • keepgoing748 - The idea of trading Maggette for the Warriors trade exception is very interesting.  It's a way of losing him for nothing, without losing him for nothing.  And at some level, the Clippers are likely to (maybe even want to) lose him for nothing.  So the trade exception is interesting, and I assume the Warriors would be willing to do it.  You keep Brand, Kaman and Livingston, build around them, and have a big trade exception if the right piece is available in the summer for a sign and trade or next season before the trade deadline.  It's shrewd.  It's the move of a savvy GM.
  • toycannon - Kaman, Maggette and Cassell for Stoudemire, Barbosa and Pike is the kind of blockbuster trade that just might happen.  Kaman is now underpaid, not overpaid.  Stoudemire by all accounts is fast alienating any friends among his Phoenix teammates and the Suns seem likely to deal SOMEONE soon.  Plus, Sarver is so salary averse that getting Kaman at a $5M per season discount versus Amare would be incredibly enticing.  Is it enough to put Barbosa, their only current salary bargain, in the deal?  I don't know.  On the other hand, trading Brand for Gordon, Noah, Nocioni and Smith is a problem for me - especially when you have to pay Gordon to keep him next season.  But the plan gets extra credit for firing Roeser and Baylor and MDsr.
  • Ghost of Gary Grant.  The challenge in trading both Cassell and Maggette is to somehow get some decent prospects in return.  In acquiring Linas Kleiza from Denver as part of a trade for Cassell and Marco Belinelli from Golden State in a package for Maggette, this plan does that.  Unfortunately, it doesn't bring back the expiring contracts to help the Clippers trim some payroll.  And if Kleiza works out, he'd then have to be re-signed in summer 2009.
The Winners
  • Second place, winner of two tickets to the Charlotte game on Monday night, goes to citizen mvnclipper.  His plan to acquire Luol Deng was focused and thorough.  I'm not convinced that Chicago would trade Deng, but he makes a strong offer for him.  Also, given Chicago's season, there's no way Paxson is going to sign all of his free agents, nor can he afford to put the 'untouchable' sign on his underachieving players.  I do wonder if Deng is the right player for the Clippers, a team whose biggest issue is the absence of a go to scorer.  Deng is not the guy I give the ball to with 15 seconds on the clock and say 'get me a hoop.'  But he's a great young player with a ton of character, and would be a terrific acquisition.
  • First prize of two tickets to Wednesday's Atlanta game goes to a plan that definitely addresses my 'go to scorer' problem.  Citizen Roy G Biv's plan to acquire Tracy McGrady from the Rockets is bold, and by the way, it just might work.  There are already rumblings in Houston that McGrady could be traded.  He's been hurt off and on his entire time with the Rockets, and he's still never won a playoff series.  Meanwhile, 2 billion people in China dictate that Yao is the face of the Rockets, which makes it tough for them to pay another guy $20M.  Trading for a guy who's never been to the second round may seem like a strange approach to achieving playoff success, but McGrady is the type of scorer the Clippers have never had.  He's played in Toronto (as a reserve), Orlando (small market, family vacation town) and Houston (second fiddle to Yao) - but in LA, he would be the first option on offense, could rival Kobe Bryant as a draw, and his marketing value would skyrocket (especially if he, you know, won some important games).  The plan exceeds the luxury tax for next season - but it's the kind of plan that should, and he's the type of player that could make a difference.  There's no question that he would sell more seats and win more games for the Clippers.  Would it be enough to justify paying the tax?  We'll likely never know the answer to that question.
Winners, email me at ClipperSteve@Gmail.com for further instructions.  Basically, I just need a real name to give to the guys at Barry's Tickets so that you can pick up your tickets this week.  Or, if for any reason you can't make the game, let me know as soon as possible so I can get the tickets to one of the runners up.

Thanks to everyone for playing, and thanks to Barry's Tickets for sponsoring this contest by providing the prizes.  It was a blast

I'm already working on the next contest at this moment.  Also, there's a big ClipsNation event coming up in the next couple weeks.  So there's plenty more excitement coming soon.