Fasten your seat belts, citizens! As a matter of fact, they better be on already, elsewise let us know if we have to go grab you while you're spinning out into deep space, amazed and confused.
Paul Pierce is a Clipper, coming to play with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, reuniting with coach Doc Rivers. DeAndre Jordan is still making his decision, and I'm not sure that anybody has really done an in-depth comparison of NBA Free Agency and the Bachelor/ette--is there any way to include a rose ceremony into this process somewhere? If DJ is smart he had a crew following him around this week, as he has seemed determined to enjoy his Freedom Dance/Party, whatever you want to call it. Just doin' it DJ-style. Blake Griffin is handy with this stuff, he's a writer, actor, producer with a keen sense of irony, he gets the joke, and I would have liked to see his version of DJ's break dance. Especially since, you know, they're teammates from Day One and ready to go down as the best C-PF combo of all-time, over the course of a storied and legendary career… wait, am I getting ahead of myself? Where was I?
Did we even talk about Lance Stephenson as a Clipper yet? What does that mean with all of this incoming news? That happened? Was I too depressed to notice? Is Lance too volatile and strange, did he score too many points as a New York City phenom, was it all a mirage in Indiana, revealed to be paltry and misguided in Charlotte, as he started spinning and dropping into an untouchable zone wormhole that led… to this? I'm in! I'm down! Hell yeah! Club O likes Lance, likes him a lot, look at that youth, that vigor, that upside, that athleticism and shut-down wing defender potential (is it real? Of course it is!)!!
Really, this is all about the bench. I don't know about you guys, did you hear any comments about the Clipper bench during the season and through the playoffs? What, the Clippers didn't have the best bench in the NBA? They had Jamal Crawford, everybody's favorite bench player in the NBA, amirite--you know how much you love it with those shots go in, that love is special, don't deny it. Jamal is still on the roster. I'm fine with that. Seat belts are on.
Paul Pierce is a bench/starter, in my mind. He's important, but they're going to fill out the roster--and this will help (starting with Lance). People are smart in the NBA now, in case you haven't noticed. (It's a big business too, and fun! Like Hollywood!) As much as we hanker for the old days when the Clips worked out at the Spectrum Club and only had an 2 old VCRs, training facilities and scientific player fitness monitoring, therapy and rehab have to be pretty advanced at this point. And now that the Clippers are an elite team--OH MY GOD THE SORROW AND THE ANGUISH THAT WE DIDNT GET TO PLAY THE WARRIORS!!!--, sustaining their excellence with a solid across-the-board business program and strong financial support from their forward-thinking, enthusiastic owner--every roster spot counts, and Doc Rivers knows how to maximize the final days of Paul Pierce's career, how much to play him, when he needs rest, what he can do, what's left in the tank. How many games does he start? What does he do during the regular season? What does he do during the playoffs? What is he bringing to this team, to the Los Angeles Clippers?
As beautiful and touching as the Golden State Warriors story was this past year--and is it not all the more beautiful because of the counterpoint of the Clippers chiaroscuro pain and suffering, our continuing degradation--will it not be even more poetic and profound to watch the Clippers now rise and conquer? Paul Pierce adds piquancy, my friends. The Clipper sauce is good, it's fine, let's lean into it--and let's see what DJ decides as far as BBQ is concerned, tomorrow.
What else, right now? Matt Barnes is gone, and we love him--when jerseys start getting retired, after we do our Ralph Lawler tribute, maybe Barnes should get some sort of Cali banner/shout out all his own (including Phoenix--should I digress and consider whether California should annex Arizona? Maybe not.) The Grindhouse and Matt Barnes! That's good stuff, bring it on.
I'll close by noting, amongst a ton of topics and notes and thoughts that I haven't mentioned recently, laying low, riding out the pain and all of the dark thoughts that are brought on by failure, that I think a lot about Chris Paul. What is this rift, what is this DJ thing that people are taiking about?
If DJ makes basic improvement as a free throw shooter, the Clippers are NBA champions--but it's more complicated than that.
Some of us citizens have been watching DJ in every game, watching every chance, waiting and hoping, watching his development. I for one remember when MDSr was fired and we started the Kim Hughes era (with Neil Olshey as our GM) and DJ was going to get minutes and things would be good, he would break out. But he wasn't ready. Still, that was when CP came to town as a Hornet/Pelican and admired the cut of DJ's jib--let's not forget that it was Chris Paul who wanted to play with DJ, not the other way around.
So we've watched every single step, moving from MDSr to Kim Hughes to VDN to Doc Rivers. And we've seen the Rise. As I've been saying a lot this year with a friend of mine, who had a preemie baby in the NICU, bad news comes fast, and good news is slow, it's a steady uphill climb. DJ has been perhaps the best steady uphill climb I have ever witnessed. His last 10 years have been fantastic and fun to witness, but his next 10 years are going to be so much better and so fantastic that it's not funny.
Let me focus on the free throws, since they're so important--and that's my area of specialty (and obsession). DJ was raw meat when he came into the league (but he was our raw meat.) The MDSr-Kim Hughes-VDN sequence went by quickly in retrospect (it included SO MUCH, but Griffin's "rookie" (ZBo! Camby!) injury and CP3's arrival for starters), but during that epoch, with limited playing time, let's just say that DJ was shooting free throws rather poorly. The interesting thing is that he settled on a stroke more recently, and it was clear that he was practicing, and perhaps it was also clear that DJ was making free throws in practice.
As I've been thinking about this recently, and looking at it from Chris Paul's perspective--which might be more or less to look at Blake Griffin's progress at the free throw line. It's impressive, and it's damning to DJ. Griffin rocketed into the league and his immediate brightly glowing stardom actually provided DJ good cover to continue his development, his slow and steady uphill climb. At any rate, as the Clippers tightened the screws and Doc arrived and the attack became more sophisticated, Griffin working with his shooting coach BThaite, DJ wasn't so far behind--he solidified his free throw stroke. There's a lot to be said for that, as so many bad free throw shooters, starting with Shaq, have wandered around with different approaches throughout their careers. DJ developed a good stroke a couple of years ago, and he's working on it. Now he probably makes a lot of free throws in practice--which is probably annoying to Chris Paul. Make your free throws, we're NBA champions. Flip the script. Where are we?
Let's see what happens next.
I don't know. I'm sick of worrying about these things, and thinking about the past.