I dabbled with the other Los Angeles team last time, so that there is balance in all things, we now turn our gaze toward the Clippers team and organization. And quite the time it has been for this team the last few years. Going from the beloved “Lob City” era to the gritty blue-collar iteration that managed to take some games off the Warriors in the playoffs just a little over a year ago, to becoming vaulted title contenders with an offseason overhaul that brought both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to the team. So there’s been plenty of transition, exorbitant expectations, and sweet-sweet failure. But not all is lost! Just one year into this new look Clippers and with a new head coach leading into the 2020 start of the season, there are two ways to look at what lies ahead for the Clippers. One good, one bad…balance! We’ll go over both perspectives after the jump…
|Starters||P. Beverley||P. George||K. Leonard||M. Morris||I. Zubac|
|Rotation||L. Williams||L. Shamet||R. McGruder||J. Green||M. Harrell|
|Rotation||R. Jackson||P. Patterson||J. Noah|
|Limited||A. Coffey||M. Kabengele|
|Limited||T. Mann||J. Motley|
Draft Rights Retained
|David Michineau||PG||2016 Rnd 2 Pick 9||France|
|Vladimir Veremeenko||PF||2006 Rnd 2 Pick 18||Belarus|
Free Agent Rights Retained
|JaMychal Green||PF||(U) Bird||
|Reggie Jackson||G||(U) Non-Bird||
Italy / United States
Notable Free Agents: Patrick Patterson (UFA), JaMychal Green (PO), Reggie Jackson (UFA), Marcus Morris (UFA), Montrezl Harrell (UFA), Johnathan Motley (RFA). (As of this writing, both Green and Harrell have signed elsewhere. You should note that Green has done quite the fan service by replying to every goodbye on Twitter. RESPEK.)
As I alluded to above, I consider there to be two outlooks for this team. And unfortunately for all the Pat Bev and Paul George haters, in both, the Clippers make the playoffs. Ah, but yes, in a league where I could pick four guys off the street and make the playoffs, what would be more impressive is if the Clippers finally decided to shake their curse and at least get to Conference Championship series. That would be nice, but this team was built to get a chip, and a chip this season might be the only thing standing between a team that has 3-5 year window or a complete rebuild is how far Leonard can take them. Considering load management, I guess how far George can take them. Oh god…
While I can make the case to wax poetic on both Leonard and George, I feel I already touched upon them in the paragraph above, and nobody likes to be overly touched. (Well, maybe not your mom.) I’d rather focus on the some of the features of this team that sometimes gets slept on but cannot be forgot, and that’s the teams defense, depth, and charm. And by charm, I mean reverting to what was something like the world-hated retro-Pistons. First, the acquisition of Serge Ibaka (at the same price tag of Harrell, which when you think about it, seems more and more amazing) reinforces two main components that this team thrives on (ahem, depth and defense) and also, and I can’t stress this enough, complements one of my favorite players this year: Ivica Zubac.
Zubac was incredible during the recent bubble experience, and I think was one of the main factors of why Doc Rivers was let go. He simply had too much of the “my guys” mentality, and even after it was abundantly clear that Harrell wasn’t able to bring the physical and emotional component against the Mavericks, Rivers doubled-down and made sure that Zubac’s inside scoring and defense was neutralized. Not this season though. And another concept to point out completing this circle is that Ibaka now adds a stretch element to the five position, something that the Clippers could have used.
One final note, the lack of a true point guard concerns me. The argument could be made that there should be a dedicated facilitator on this team, but I’m also of the mind that Rajon Rondo was never going to be the answer. At least with free agency shaping up the way it has, I’m okay with Patrick Beverly still holding that role, but would love to see Reggie Jackson receive more minutes.
Now, I sorta alluded to two potential outcomes this year for the Clippers. Both have them making the playoffs. What remains to be seen is how the team handles another year of the patented Leonard load management system, the often emotional Paul George, and a team that has all the right pieces, but may not still have the right fit. What they have will put them in position, but is this a team built to beat the Lakers? It was supposed to last season, but that series never came. Suffice to say, the Clippers season might just begin on game 83 of the season. And that should be both exciting and scary for Clippers fans all around the world. All 11 of us.
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him @jaywrong.