For most NBA players and teams, the offseason provides an opportunity to step out of the limelight, relax, and maybe catch up on their knitting. Not the Clippers, who usually find themselves under the brightest lights come summertime. They’ve consistently kept themselves in the papers with one imbroglio after another, to the extent that even the NFL is jealous of their uncanny ability to stay in the offseason news cycle.
Summertime scandals surface like clockwork for this franchise, leading many of us waiting with bated breath over the past month for the other shoe to drop. Were the Clippers going to sign Kevin Durant? Blow it up? Some other unforeseen drama, the kind that could only happen to this organization?
This year, it seems like the coast might finally be clear for a change. Maybe it’s safe for us to exhale now. When was the last time the Clippers had an offseason as placid as this one? Certainly none in the Doc era, and perhaps none during Chris Paul’s tenure.
This was the summer of the lockout, which forced some Clippers to look elsewhere to get paid. But the real offseason didn’t start till after the CBA was signed in late November, and the Clippers signed Caron Butler and picked Chauncey Billups off the amnesty waiver wire. After that came one of David Stern’s finest moments as NBA Commissioner, as he voided a blockbuster Chris Paul trade to the Lakers, citing “basketball reasons”. That brave stand cleared the runway for the moribund Clippers franchise to finally spread its wings and leave the gutter for good.
This offseason was the closest thing the Clippers had to a “normal” summer the past five years, at least until now. Even then, Los Angeles made some major moves — including signing Jamal Crawford and trading Mo Williams for Lamar Odom. The Clippers also faced the looming specter of CP3’s unrestricted free agency the following summer, and rumors swirled about internal strife with his teammates and Coach Vinny Del Negro. Compared to the next three summers, it would resemble a blissful sunny day tubing down a lazy river.
The first in the trilogy of “It could only happen to the Clippers” summers rejected by Hollywood studios for being too preposterous. It was highlighted by the monthlong Doc-udrama trade saga, as the league stepped in and nixed a potential trade that would involve players being traded for coaches, a violation of the CBA. As it turns out, the league saved the Clippers again, stopping them from trading DeAndre Jordan for an over-the-hill Kevin Garnett. After the trade finally went through for a future first-rounder, Doc spent his first few days in LA getting into a pissing contest with aggrieved Boston homer Bill Simmons. After that, they re-signed Chris Paul and Matt Barnes before trading Butler and Eric Bledsoe for J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley.
The Sterling Affair, and all the ensuing sordid fallout. We won’t get into the details. Suffice to say it was messy, it made international news, and it resulted in the Clippers finally ridding themselves of the worst owner in the league (plus an absolutely terrible human being to boot) and replacing him with one of the best.
You’d think it’d be hard to top the summer of 2014, but good lord, the Clippers tried everything in their power to outdo themselves. I outlined this offseason much more extensively in an article a few months ago, but we’ll touch on the highlights:
— The new logo and uniforms, which were universally panned
— DeAndre Day, a.k.a. the Face that Launched a Thousand Emojis
— Reports of a major power struggle within the Clippers front office, leading to some calling the team one of the most dysfunctional in the league
Maybe not as bad as the rest of the world finally realizing your owner is a flagrantly racist slumlord, but maybe not that much better either.
Compared to the last few years, this summer has been like a week on Phil Jackson’s Zen Ranch. A “blowing away” Kevin Durant here, a few baseless trade rumors there, but all in all it’s been an uncharacteristically uneventful offseason for the Clippers — which is just fine after the roller coaster of a season they just had. The Clips chose to stay low and build, bringing back their own guys and establishing more continuity than they’ve had in years past. You couldn’t ask for much more as a fan: no embarrassing news stories and minimal distractions for the team as they head into a season that could be a crossroads for the franchise.
Of course, it’s only August, and we might have just jinxed the whole damn thing. For all we know, DeAndre could start an international incident in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympics. Blake could punch another guy while doing a stand-up set. J.J. Redick could turn into a shock jock, conspiracy-theory-peddling podcaster.
Anything is possible during a Clippers offseason.