Let's be honest, there has simply been something different about this NBA season. The buzz, the excitement, the overall thrill? It's just not the same as previous NBA seasons. With the absolutely bizarre off-season, expectations where high for the Clippers, but I think it's safe to say that those expectations have drastically changed. In this Clippers' Mini Roundtable, Taylor Smith and I have a nice, half-empty glass of water, and discuss and reflect upon this relatively lackadaisical NBA season.
How worried are you about Blake Griffin?
Niels: Well, I can tell you that I'm not feeling good about what's going on. I haven't seen all of the details, but my instinct tells me that something is worse than originally anticipated and they are being ambiguous because of that. But hey, my instincts have definitely been wrong, but something just feels shady about the entire thing. I hope I'm wrong, because not only do I love watching Blake play, but it's clear that the Clippers desperately need him at this point in the season.
Taylor: How can you not be worried? He hasn't played since Christmas night. Doc Rivers has said he expects him back prior to the playoffs, but he also said a couple of weeks ago that he expects Griffin to return "soon." We're now well beyond that "soon" and we still have no real timetable. Apparently it's the original injury (quad) that continues to keep him sidelined. That was supposed to heal a long time ago. Is he coming back at all this season? Is he going to come back so late that he'll have to serve his suspension during the postseason? There's something very weird about this whole situation, and it's unsettling.
What has been the biggest disappointment for the Clippers this season?
Niels: It has to be the realization that the Clippers have seemingly been pushed further away from their Championship aspirations. Note the wording on that: they were "pushed further away." I don't believe that they took a step back, but rather, the Spurs took a sizable step forward and the Warriors just left every other team (minus the Spurs) in the dust.
Taylor: The big disappointment with LAC for me is that this brilliant core of talent may already have gotten stale. As J.J. Redick said after the Pelicans loss, there's something off about the "spirit" of the team right now. Sure, these are the dog days of the season and they're obviously missing Blake Griffin terribly, but even when Blake was around earlier in the season the team was clunking its way to a sluggish start. It sounds awful, but it's almost as if the players know they don't have a great chance of beating GSW or SA in the long run.
On the other hand, what have you found most interesting or exciting about this NBA season? And what have you found exciting about the Clippers?
Niels: Regarding the NBA season overall, it is a toss up between two things. The first one is the history the Warriors are making. As much as I dislike the Warriors, I'm still a fan of basketball, and their greatness is undeniable. Think about it, we are witnessing arguably the greatest team of all time play at (hopefully) their peak. The other part of this year is how incredible this rookie class is. Towns, Porzingis, Russell, the list goes on and on. The future is looking exciting for the NBA.
Now about the Clippers? Easily their current "Big 3" of Redick, Chris Paul, and DeAndre. Seriously, those guys are playing some PHENOMENAL basketball and it's a pleasure to watch them dominate the game.
Taylor: For me it's the rookies. This is as strong and as deep a class as I've ever seen. There are 20+ players you can envision being in the league for at least a decade, which is incredible for one group.
As for the Clips, the continued brilliance of Chris Paul has been a joy to watch. He gets overshadowed a lot thanks to Steph Curry's existence, but there isn't another player out there that controls the game the way CP3 does. Oh, and also Chuck the Condor.
Has this decline in excitement/passion for a team ever happened in your sports fandom experience in the past?
Niels: Yes, and it just happened recently as well. My support of Manny Pacquiao went from 100 to 0 almost instantly. I don't want to talk too much about him, but to Filipinos everywhere he was essentially a hero. I found myself shaking more than ever during his boxing matches, not out of excitement, but out of fear. I feared that he would lose and this idol of ours would be humanized. But no matter how many times he lost, he always got back up and my irrational fear of his humanization was thrown out the window. However, after his recent, derogatory comments, my heart sank and any appreciation I had for him turned into disappointment and disgust. So is the nature of sports, I suppose; expectations are a cruel double edged sword that can bring an absurd amount of joy, as well as an even greater amount of disappointment.
Taylor: I'm a Houston Astros fan, so, yes. Once they blatantly tore the team to the ground and undertook one of the most aggressive/depressing rebuilding projects in recent pro sports history, it was extremely difficult to maintain excitement about them. They lost about 110 games three years in a row. What's the point of watching when the team isn't even trying to win? The fruits of their tanking are obviously playing out now, but for several years I had allllllll of the Astros antipathy.
Niels: Well, for starters, if this realistically was going to happen, I imagine the Banana Boat would sail it's way to Cleveland. Love for Melo, Irving for Cp3, and Wade takes a solid paycut or the Heat try to make a deal work out for future assets. But similar to Cleveland in general, that's just no fun.
So for the Clippers? Well, it's basically impossible but my best bet would be that we pull some Joe Smith under the table stuff. Kidding of course, but the other option would be that the other guys take a paycut, and we work with some S&Ts. What those are, I have no idea, but I'll check back in after some thorough and obviously high quality investigation on 2k, because that's what this team is, a 2K team.
Taylor: The odds of this actually happening are obviously tiny, but we're allowed to dream, right? Let's just say these four decide they're going to make this thing happen. Another Heat-esque superteam may be the only thing that can take down the Warriors, so they decide to join forces together with the Clippers. They'd obviously each have to take a pretty severe pay cut, even with the massive cap expansion we're likely to see over the next several years. LAC would essentially have to dump everyone already on the roster in order to make all four of them fit under the cap. No problem there.
(Sorry DeAndre and Blake)
Then, the aforementioned Chuck the Condor is deployed to travel the country and pick each of the guys up and bring them to Los Angeles via Banana Boat. Boom. Banana Boat Clippers.