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With five games left in this miserable season, there wasn't a whole lot more that could go wrong for the Clippers.  Five more losses secures a pretty good shot at a high draft pick.  Mix a few wins in there and hey, that's OK, they won a game.  They'll still have plenty of ping pong balls and it's always fun to get a W.

So while there are obviously plenty of bad things that could happen (significant injuries in these meaningless games being the most obvious possibility), it seemed reasonable to expect that we could morosely sleepwalk to the finish line and begin dreaming of draft picks and better days ahead.  Not so.

As worst case scenarios (scenarii?) go, this isn't a career-threatening injury.  But it's certainly not what we want to hear going into the off-season.

Zach Randolph, the Clippers' leading scorer, was arrested last night on drunk driving charges.  Here's the AP story (hat tip to citizen gbtrooper who joined Clips Nation this morning just to share this with us):

Los Angeles Clippers forward Zach Randolph has been arrested for investigation of drunken driving.

California Highway Patrol Officer Tony Garrett says two officers saw a white Rolls-Royce weaving on Interstate 405 around 2:25 a.m. Monday.

The officers pulled the car over and identified Randolph as its driver. Garrett says alcohol could be smelled from inside the car and after conducting a field sobriety test, Randolph was arrested and taken to the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles.

He was later released on $5,000 bail. A message left for a Clippers spokesman was not immediately returned.

Randolph had 18 points in the Clippers’ 88-85 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.

Just great. 

Why was a 27 year old averaging 20/10 available for two overpaid guys in their 30s?  Because (a) he was even more overpaid, (b) his stats were empty and he didn't really help teams win games and (c) he was trouble.  That was the theoretical downside anyway. 

Upon his arrival in LA, we began to embrace the idea of having a top tier low post scorer again, as MDsr's offense suddenly began clicking on, let's say two cylinders, as opposed to none. 

When he punched Louis Amundson in February, we explained it as a manifestation of his personal angst over his father's critical illness.  It wasn't good, it wasn't smart, but it didn't mean all the haters were right about him; you could hardly blame the guy, with his dad in the hospital, or so the rationalization went.

So now what? 

I don't have much to say at this point.  We'll find out soon enough what his blood alcohol content was (but you can bet it's going to be bad).  I'm not going to moralize about drinking and driving.  It happens with alarming frequency around the NBA, something the league office really needs to get in front of. 

But if Zach Randolph was hoping to prove that he had matured, that some of the baggage associated with him was undeserved, that it was going to be different in LA - well, between the punch and the DUI, I think we can now establish that his reputation was well-earned.

The Clippers used to have a power forward who everyone thought was a boy scout, and who turned out to be not quite as perfect as we believed.  At least they know what they've got this time.  And he's going to make $33M over the next two seasons on a completely untradeable contract.

[Note by Steve Perrin, 04/06/09 2:35 PM PDT ] The team has announced that Zach has been suspended for two games.