So, my colleague Josh Mei has put forward his case for the Los Angeles Clippers making a play to pick up Kyrie Irving this summer. I should caveat this retort (of sorts) by saying that the Brooklyn Nets point guard is still a superstar, a certified bucket-getter and would make the vast majority of NBA teams better.
There are only a handful of teams that are in a position to pass on his talents should they become available, and here is why I believe Lawrence Frank and company should be one of the front offices that looks the other way:
1) For the culture.
You could fill pages upon pages of how important this point is to the Clippers. I’ve written in the past about the atmosphere that was cultivated by Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, while another of my colleagues, Brent Yoo, wrote a great article about the spirit within the team now and how much coach Tyronn Lue has done to make it as good as it is.
Since then, we’ve seen Paul George double down on that good feeling by posting pictures on Instagram of him and his teammates enjoying some off-court time together, an image that conjured up some emotions in Beverley as a former leader of the group (if you’re reading this Pat, it’s not too late).
Since the embarrassment of The Bubble, things have looked an awful lot brighter for Clipper Nation. With a little more luck in regards to health and schedule, things could look a whole lot different right now. This off-season is likely to be a huge one for the team in terms of getting their main guys back to full health again — which is why it was great to see George, in particular, showing off his bounce in the gym.
However, the main reason things have felt so much better since that point is because everybody is on the same page. That wasn’t the case when Doc Rivers was head coach. While it wasn’t solely on him, it was Rivers’ job to set the foundation to empower his guys to all get along. Coach Ty has done that, and it’s still a careful balance to be managed at all times. One big personality could seriously disrupt that, and Irving is nothing if not a big personality.
2) For the on-court balance.
One of the narratives that arose from Summer 2020 was that the Clippers needed a play-making point guard. While that remains the case to an extent, it has always been a little overblown. Irving would come in and expect to immediately lead the offense, which would be a big shakeup from the trajectory the team has been going in with Kawhi Leonard Paul George as the main ball-handlers.
He would demand a lot of touches that may not only stifle the two current stars, but also stunt the progress that key role players have been able to make this season in particular. A good problem to have you may say, but once again it’s a balance for the coaching staff to be careful around. After all, we’ve seen around the league that throwing a load of stars together doesn’t necessarily equate to success.
That’s not to mention the defensive side of the ball. Would Irving be prepared to put in the kind of effort that Lue demands from even the weakest defenders on his roster? I’d always back our head coach on that score, but he’d likely have a far bigger job on his hands with this particular personality.
3) For the circus.
One of the things us fans liked about the Clippers’ run to the Western Conference finals in 2021, was that they did so by flying almost completely under the radar the whole season. The only time they seemed to make national news was when they “dodged” a potential first-round matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers by resting the starters towards the back end of the regular season.
This past season, the biggest splash they’ve made among the headlines have come from them and their players being brought up unprompted on ESPN. The organization seems to have worked hard to keep things in-house during a time when nothing feels sacred when it comes to league business.
The leaks that came out of intimate dressing room interactions during The Bubble seem to have been learnt from (or the mole has been let go, depending which way you look at it), and it’s hard to see those kinds of headlines cropping up around this team again.
Like it or not, Irving has been one of the biggest recurring stories surrounding the NBA this season. His very public vaccination status and subsequent availability issues have made the media circus that surrounds him as loud and wild as it’s ever been. Throwing that formula into this particular equation would only bring more talking head debates and column inches to distract from on-court activities.
Anyway, it’s a John Wall summer so I hope it’s on for him.
Do you think the Clippers should make a move for Kyrie Irving? Let us know in the comments below…