Last night, I asked a few members of the Clips Nation staff for their take on the Clippers' off-season so far — in a word. Below, you'll find their choices and explanations, as well as mine.
What's your one word for this Clippers off-season?
John Raffo: Carnivalesque. I'm thinking of the sudden wild ride up with the Lance Stephenson deal, the Paul Pierce on-again, off-again run through the dips, the plunge into despair with DeAndre's defection, then the sudden exhilarating climb up with his return, the mild, calming pleasure of the Aldrich, Rivers signings, then the sudden unexpected dive into complete unpredictability (and possibility) with the Josh Smith acquisition.
And now, as our senses clear there's Doc Rivers on the midway, with his cane, his top hat, barking in that awful but oddly soothing bleat. He's beckoning us, winking, a grin on his face. The flaps of the big top swing wide and inside we find darkness, a spotlight, the main ring, and way up top beyond the ropes and trapeze, we see the high wire. That's where we're going, way, way up... for a walk across the wire. Down below, there's no net, no mercy, there's jagged rocks and pounding seas.
Boltsfan21: ****. Do you remember this scene from The Wire? The one where McNulty and Bunk spend about three-and-a-half minutes investigating a crime scene uttering nothing but a certain four-letter word and occasional up-to-12-letter variants thereof? I'm pretty sure that was also the extent of my vocabulary for the last few weeks. DeAndre Jordan is going to take meetings with other teams? Big ****in' whoop. Doc Rivers finally convinced Paul Pierce to take a pay cut to play for the Clippers? **** yeah! DeAndre is seriously considering the Mavericks? *************. DeAndre actually chose the Mavericks? Mother****er! Wesley Johnson is signing on for the minimum? Who gives a ****. DeAndre is having second thoughts and wants to meet with the Clippers again? What the ****? DeAndre changed his mind and is coming back? Holy ****! Cole Aldrich is signing on? **** me. Josh Smith turned down more money from the Rockets and is signing on with the Clips for the minimum? ****in' A! What a great ****ing summer!
Larson Ishii: Gambling. This offseason GM Doc is playing high and fast with the Clippers' offseason free agent acquisitions. With little cap space to sign anyone, in an economy flush with teams ready to spend in copious amounts, Doc knew that the best way to improve the team was through smart, low-risk, high-reward gambles. The Lance Stephenson trade was the first and best example, buying low on a once-borderline-All-Star talent for the small price of Hawes and Barnes. Doc gambled a bit too much with DeAndre Jordan, temporarily losing him by not being attentive enough in the first pitch meeting, before luckily winning him back. And finally the rest of the roster — Austin Rivers, Cole Aldrich, Josh Smith, Wesley Johnson — seem to be gambling on themselves by taking one-year deals with eyes on the cap jump next summer. After coming so close to the Western Conference Finals last year, the Clippers are going all-in this year for a title.
Steve Perrin: Disorienting. In a matter of a week the Clippers went from the worst off-season of any contending team to one of the best. J.J. Redick was ready to give the Clippers an F-minus just for losing DeAndre Jordan, despite the additions of Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson. Not to mention that everyone was whining that the Spurs were able to get a talented player like David West for the vet min. Well, Jordan pulled the old switcharoo, and David West is 34 while Josh Smith is 29, so we'll let the rest of the conference do the whining now. But it remains disorienting even after Jordan's return to the fold — the Clippers will have six new faces (at least) including most of the bench, and how the new pieces fit together is anybody's guess (one possibility: they don't fit together!).
Lucas Hann: Versatile. I commented in one of the threads that it almost feels as though the Clippers aren't signing a shooting guard and a power forward, they're just out there acquiring athletes, and they'll figure out who plays what position later at some point, but it doesn't really matter. The versatility of these new players, and the multitude of lineup possibilities, is staggering and exciting — and I'm worried that Doc Rivers will continue to just play all-bench lineups. If he manages it well, however, consider the quickness of Paul-Rivers-Stephenson-Smith-Griffin. Or the size of Rivers-Stephenson-Pierce-Griffin-Jordan. The floor spacing with Paul-Redick-Johnson-Pierce-Griffin. The list of exciting combinations goes on and on, but an all-reserve grouping of Rivers-Crawford-Stephenson-Johnson-Smith (or Smith-Aldrich) isn't as enticing as the others.
citizen zhiv: Existentialist. Sometimes you're faced with the big questions: what does it all mean? Why do things happen the way that they do, how does one episode and decision lead to the next, where are we, who are we, why do we care — do we care? The Clippers got Paul Pierce on Wednesday, and then on Friday morning I went out to my car and my computer and passwords were stolen, and then an hour later we got word that DJ had signed with the Mavericks. I cursed myself, I cursed the fates, and on Independence Day MeJ led us through the dark wood to the slough of despair, where the Clippers play a lot of small-ball, apparently.
DeAndregeddon was a soul-wrenching crisis; it made no sense — but it was of course vaguely familiar to Clipper fans. After generating classic Shakespearean theatre as recently as the previous summer, this time the Clippers set a new standard for NBA drama, all of it orchestrated by Doc Rivers, whose political and social leadership were senatorial last time, and his generalship, strategy and precision over the past two weeks were equally astonishing, beginning with Occupy Houston. Who is this man, and why is he here, guiding our ship through these tumultuous seas? Griffin, Paul, DJ, Pierce, Redick and all the rest, new and old, are members of a proud and stout, dynamic new unit, unlike anything we have ever seen before.
It's a brave new world, but it was a harrowing journey of hearts and minds getting here—and that was after the cataclysmic defeat against — of course, where else? — Houston. It doesn't seem real, but the journey continues and we have to create meaning and purpose the best we can, with a lot of help from ClipperSteveB and Doc, along with SP and Lucas and Raffo and all the rest, all of us together, one day at a time. Just another soul searching summertime here at ClipsNation.