All this week John Raffo and I are discussing the 2014 Clippers position by position. Today it's centers.
DeAndre Jordan: 2yrs/22.4 million remaining
Could the center position be better? Yeah, of course. It could be worse too. The answer to me would be to give DJ some more minutes. I mean, if he's playing 24 minutes a game then that means that someone else is playing 24 minutes a game, and last year that meant, more often than not, RyHo and Turiaf. So it's time for a new coach to give him his 30-32 minutes a game. There might be a trade out there that gets the team a better center, but it would probably require Bledsoe, and the Clippers should use him to upgrade on the wings, where help is needed much more desperately.
It's a quandary. Do you try and trade Jordan or do you keep trying to develop him and build around him. Vinny Del Negro reportedly wanted to trade him before the deadline last year. (Pseudo GM Gary Sacks reportedly disagreed.) But Vinny Del Negro is gone. Is it Vinny's fault (or Vinny and his staff's fault) that Jordan failed to improve the last two years or so? Is it their fault that Jordan has regressed from the free-throw line or can't defend the pick-and-roll?
It was just 18 months ago that the Clippers gave Jordan a four year 43 million dollar contract. (You can't blame that on Vinny.) But Jordan's never averaged more than 27 minutes on the floor... and he was down under 25 minutes this year. Worse, his free throw shooting went down to a horrific .386 this year. (That's actually better than I thought... I can't believe Jordan made almost 4 out of 10.)
While Jordan made some spectacular dunks through the year, his defense never seemed to improve much (unlike his front court mate Blake Griffin, who was really a much better defender this year.)
A lot of Clipper fans are done with Jordan... who is still only 24 years old (he turns 25 next month). But is it time to throw in the towel? Can a new coach fix his game... and more importantly perhaps, fix his head. Because the problem with DeAndre Jordan is not so much that his game is bad, it's that he seems to think his game is pretty good. He likes leaving his man and swatting dunks into the stands, he likes leaping into the air and jamming the ball through the hoop. He thinks it's good.
I think I let this be the new coach's problem. In the interview process, one of the first questions i ask Brian Shaw, or Lionel Hollins, or George Karl is, "What do you think of DJ? Can you work with him?"
Like I said, it's a quandary.
Clippers Free Agents:
Ok, he's not very good, but he's not very bad. He could probably be a fourth big, but when Odom is your third big and Jordan is your second big... that's not very good. The Clippers should probably pursue a different, better third big, but I would have no issue bringing RyHo back as a 5th big. I mean, 7.2 fouls per 36! Can't argue with those results. He's one of only 3 active players who have averaged 7.2 or more fouls per 36 for a season while appearing in 60 or more games and playing 11 or more minutes a game (Roy Hibbert, Nicola Pekovich).
Hollins played better than expected and Del Negro often went to him late in games because: a. He could defend the pick-and-roll. b. He could hit his free throws. He could rebound a little too. He was completely useless at everything else though. An offensive zero... and often a hacking, fouling machine. I wouldn't mind seeing him back in a Clips uni as a third string big.
He's just not that good, but he's high energy and a great cheerleader. Ultimately, I think there's only space for him OR Hollins, and Hollins is a better player.
Frustrating guy. Used to be a pretty nifty offensive player, an okay defender, and a decent free-throw shooter. He was an okay defender, an okay rebounder, horrible at the line (.385). A terrific towel waver though, really, all pro at towel.
Who will the 2014 Clippers start at C?
Who will the 2014 Clippers bring off the bench at C?
There's FAs like Zaza Pachulia, Josh McRoberts, Chris Kaman, Sam Dalembert, and Cole Aldrich who might be had for part of the MLE... we'll see. I think Hollins will be back as well.
Someone else. Clips need a backup big.
Last year I was dying for the Clips to play Lamar Odom and Blake Griffin side-by-side. But Vinny played those hockey lineups and they saw little time on the court together. Against all but the burliest centers (Gasol and Bogut come to mind) Odom should be able to spend time at the five. You'd have two good rebounders, who also happen to be two of the best passing big men in the game, that should ignite the break and give your shooters lots of open looks.