“…but like En Vogue, well, you’re never gonna get it.” — Ice Cube, “Wicked”
Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul will miss 6-8 weeks after surgery for a torn thumb ligament that was incurred during the Los Angeles Clippers’ thrashing of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night. Lest we forget, Blake Griffin has been out with his seemingly annual significant injury, though he’s expected back soon.
The sad part about this is, head coach and general manager Doc Rivers will use this injury-ridden season as yet another excuse to NOT blow up the Paul/Griffin/DeAndre Jordan core. Once again, he will cite the snakebitten nature of this team and rationalize that surely, the Basketball Gods will smile on him and the Clippers someday and take them past the second round in the NBA playoffs. Because: karma.
And if they don’t make it? See above.
Rivers will continue to cling to the delusion that injuries, not plateaued talent, are at the root of the Clip’s tendency to get bounced early from the playoffs. Despite his earlier assertion that teams sometimes lose their mojo after playing together for a long time, which is when it’s necessary to shake things up and break up the team, Rivers refuses to entertain the notion that maybe he should be listening to some trade offers.
Of course, Rivers has conveniently forgotten his earlier considerations as he continues to keep the current iteration of the Clippers together with chewing gum and duct tape–and questionable GM decisions.
The team blowup theory apparently applies to other teams, not the Clippers.
Delusion is a hell of a drug.
It’s been way past time for the Clippers to get a full-body makeover. I had high hopes that when Jordan made his ill-fated move to the Dallas Mavericks (and subsequently left them at the altar) in the summer of 2015, it was going to finally happen.
Unfortunately, when your dual-roled front office leader tries to give a facial in the guise of the full-body job (Exhibit A: a first-round pick in exchange for Jeff Green), well…the results look like what the Clips have been doing for the last few years: one step forward, two steps back.
Bless Doc’s heart.
Griffin and Paul (as well as three-point sniper J.J. Redick) are set to become unrestricted free agents this summer. While they can both make a lot more money by staying with the Clips (and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer certainly isn’t shy when it comes to paying to retain his key players), keeping them all on the team may cost each of them a legitimate quest for a NBA championship. Not for Paul’s lack of trying, though.
Rivers and the Clippers are stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. In a sense, they are in a similar boat as the Sacramento Kings: other than their franchise players, the cupboard is bare. They don’t have anything to offer anyone beyond the talented players that have kept them relevant. The paradox is that if they do give up these players, the value of the franchise plummets as many free agents and/or veterans tend to be reluctant to join teams that are branded with the dreaded “R” word: rebuild.
Rivers shares something else with Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé: a desperate Pollyanna-esque view that their respective teams are thisclose to the next-level respectability they crave, and they just have to hold on for a little while longer. For Rivers, it’s getting at least to the Western Conference Finals. For Ranadivé, it’s getting to the playoffs, period, for the first time in 10 years (and counting).
Of course, the Clippers and the Kings are welcome to saddle themselves with maxed-out player contracts (Paul, Griffin, and Sacramento’s Cousins all qualify for the new CBA’s revamped Designated Veteran Player rule, since all are 1) pending unrestricted free agents; 2) NBA All-Stars; and 3) have made All-NBA teams. In Paul and Griffin’s cases, they have each also won an league-wide award as Rookie of the Year).
A bird (or two) in the hand, right?
Keeping the family together is noble, but doing so would further hamstring any efforts to improve in a sustained direction. Children whose parents have divorced often say that they were relieved when their parents finally split, as things were worse when they were together–even if they tried to stick it out for the kids’ sake.
It’s a messed-up situation, any way you slice it.
At least Ranadivé has a pending reality check: selling premium tickets at the newly constructed Golden1 Arena. He is a businessman, full stop. Despite his attachment to Cousins (for whatever reason), eventually the team’s losing ways and their impact on the team’s bottom line will cause him to snap himself out of his lovefest and do what’s best for the franchise’s future. Hopefully, that will come before they ink Cousins to a max contract, but don’t hold your breath.
Perhaps Rivers, alas, is still hung up on his glory days coaching the 2008 championship Boston Celtics. Perhaps he is unconsciously trying to recreate the Big Three + 1 (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo –> Paul, Griffin, Jordan, Redick); indeed, he did bring Pierce back on board.
Too bad The Truth ain’t dispensing some truth to his coach. Championships give you a greater carte blanche to speak freely.
Whatever the case, Rivers’ reality check is going to be longer in coming. Like an addict, the Rivers-run Clippers have yet to hit rock bottom; until that happens, they will continue to be the bridesmaids, with bridal rights a long way off.
Thanks for stopping by.