With the hot Lakers clinching seven wins in the last ten games, around Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma with Lonzo Ball set to return to action in the coming weeks, the Purple and Gold will definitely be heard.
For six straight seasons, the Clippers fought against the almighty Lakers to get the attention of Angelinos finally breaking through after Lakers failed experiment with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Losing Kobe Bryant to multiple injuries and eventually retirement played a huge role as well as the Black Mamba’s legendary stoic killer edged mentality filled the Staples Center.
With athletic front court players in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan around, making a trade for Chris Paul turned the historically terrible team to a legitimate title contender. In between the lobs, rim shaking dunks and eye catching no look passes, there were meltdowns when it mattered most in the postseason. Blowing series leads to Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets will forever characterize this period of hitherto unchartered success.
Coach Doc Rivers has had his fair share of criticism to deal for failing to get the talented side over the second round hedge to the Conference final.
Defending champions Golden State Warriors have a big hand in that too as its dominant role in one of the league’s modern rivalries which ended up lopsided was basically down to the brilliance of the 2015 and 2017 Champions.
Chris Paul’s trade to Houston Rockets before this season tipped off signaled the end of the run as the nine time All Star was the main link to everything good the team did. Getting young impact players like Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker cued a rebuild but management opted against it and signed Griffin and Danilo Gallinari to long term contracts while offering Milos Teodosic a two year deal. Five months into the season, the Clippers have given into rebuilding with its season sidelined by a slew of injuries to Patrick Beverley, Gallinari, Teodosic and Griffin.
Despite having a fighting chance to make the playoffs, shelling out over $100 million for a mere first round playoff appearance isn’t good business. Griffin got shipped out to Detroit on Monday and Jordan and Lou Williams are expected to follow suit with contending teams interested in their service. This is the best move to give the team’s future a clear path to building the next championship unit as it frees up money to make a run at free agents in future deals. By moving Griffin, Clippers will have $39 million in cap space and a whole lot more once Jordan and Williams are moved. Both are set to be free agents once this season ends and their impressive play is bound to fetch attractive packages in young players on good contracts and draft picks.
Clippers management will need as many picks as possible to make trades in later years following the poor haul it received in Griffin’s deal. A future first round and second round pick is not enough for a five time All Star who is still productive despite battling injuries over the past couple of years. Chicago Bulls got two first round picks which turned out to be Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen and top 20 pick Zach LaVine for Jimmy Butler. Markkanen etched his name in the history books becoming the fastest to hit 100 three point shots while LaVine and Dunn strong foundational pieces to build a winning team.
Boston Celtics traded out of prime Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn Nets for first round picks that turned out to be Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. With Jordan and Williams set to be jettisoned before the February 8 deadline and Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley set to be free agents this season and next season, the Clippers will be terrible in the Western Conference. There is a high possibility Clippers starting unit in the opening game in 2018-2019 season could have Teodosic, Beverley, Gallinari, Harrell and Wesley Johnson as starters backed by a bad bench. A unit like this can compete well but will eventually struggle to get enough wins to make a top 10 finish in the NBA’s tougher Conference.
At the height of their popularity, Clipper games sold out frequently but in the next couple of years, a lot of empty seats will characterize games at the Staples Center. Sixers fans endured four straight seasons of misery before this campaign where a playoff appearance is in the works. Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks are going through the same phase accumulating many losses and the Clippers will do same.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter