We've done the whole Q&A thing in the past to preview games, but this time we decided to do something a bit different.
As promised, Steve Perrin of Clips Nation has taken the questions you asked and sent me some answers in advance of today's Golden State Warriors game at Staples Center against the L.A. Clippers. The citizens of Clips Nation also asked questions and EvanZ and I took some time to answer their questions as well (click here to see our answers to their questions). If it works well - and we're sure you'll let us know - we'll try this process again.
In the meantime, enjoy the wisdom of a Clippers fan who has seen it all, to the point where he's still "more or less holding his breath" despite obvious improvement.
EvanZ: Do you guys feel good punking us this past off-season?
Well, I'm not sure the Clippers punked the Warriors this off-season. If anything, the Clippers punked the Lakers (and maybe the Heat a bit, since they thought they were going to get Chauncey Billups). But the Warriors kind of punked themselves. Then again, if DeAndre Jordan ends up not being worth $43M, the Warriors may have punked the Clippers and not vice versa. I felt the offer sheet was relatively shrewd if the Warriors did it to force the Clippers to overpay to retain Jordan. Whom they decided to renounce in order to clear the cap space to offer Jordan $43M was kind of up to the Warriors.
freun989: How does it feel to actually have a relevant team and no longer be The Warriors South?
IQofaWarrior: How does it feel not to be the butt of NBA jokes this season?
Honestly? I'm more or less holding my breath. Everyone who knows that I'm a Clipper fan says "You must be happy" and I smile and nod and say that I'm happy. But the season's only half over. I'm enjoying the wins -- wins are always more fun than losses -- but I'm not going into a touchdown dance here. The west is deep, and who knows what's going to happen, and people sometimes get injured -- I mean, let's face it, I've been a Clippers fan for over 20 years, I've pretty much seen it all.
As recently as 2006, the Clippers were clearly better than the Lakers and more importantly the Clippers had the brighter future. Then Brand tore his Achilles, someone in Memphis decided that Kwame Brown was a good trade for Pau Gasol, and well, things went back to how they always were. So right now, I'm cautiously optimistic and very nervous. Ask me how I feel when the playoffs start.
Having said that, it's great fun having players like Blake Griffin and Chris Paul to root for. There's no downside there.
mykelala01: Did "Clippers Darrell" deserve the treatment that Donald Sterling gave him. Suddenly when your team turns into a competitive team.
Apparently it's resolved, FWIW. First of all, I think it's incorrect to assume that Sterling had anything to do with the Clipper Darrell situation. Obviously it's Sterling's team, but if you think that he was in any way involved in discussions between Darrell and the organization regarding Darrell's activities and misuse of the team name and logo, you're overestimating his involvement in the team.
Did Darrell 'deserve' what happened? Well, Darrell is certainly not blameless in all of this. My short answer is that it should never have been a 'situation' to begin with. Darrell exaggerated and misrepresented what had been said in his "I AM DEVASTATED" post, and the team, forever tone deaf in matters of public relations, threw gasoline on the fire with their mean-spirited response. Both sides were at fault, it was all stupid, it's over. If you want to know more about what I think on this subject, read this.
doubleteapot: How will Vinny Del Negro screw up in the playoffs?
To steal a response from Clips Nation citizen cliptakular, he'll likely screw up in the playoffs the same way he's screwing up in the regular season. As they say, If it ain't not broke, don't not fix it.
I'm generally opposed to handing the head coaching job for an NBA team to a guy who has no coaching experience, and that's what happened with Del Negro in Chicago. Why the Bulls thought he would be a good coach when he'd never been so much as an assistant baffled me. Of course, the Clippers hired him after he had two years of experience with the Bulls, but he's just not an X's and O's guy.
I thought the Mark Jackson choice was a poor one for the same reason. I really can't imagine hiring a coach who has never, you know, coached.
Pippen: How long will it be before Donald Sterling screws things up and the Clips return to the lottery?
Duby Dub Dubs: How much does the overall view of the franchise affect your ability to sign (and retain) players?
With articles like this continuing to cast Mr. Sterling as a disgusting person, do you think this affects your roster in any measurable way?
I mean, I'm sure at some point, just having talent and being in LA should lead to any number of quality players wishing to play for the Clipps, and I think we have seen this happen this season.
My question to you is: will Blake / CP3 walk because of the ownership? (for the sake of argument, let's say the Clipps make it no further than the 2nd round of playoffs)
I grouped a couple of Sterling questions together for the sake of brevity.
Sterling is a scumbag, there's no question about that. But it's difficult to gauge exactly how much that matters in the real world of the NBA. The "look what a dirtbag he is" type articles like the one you linked above are one thing. I mean, you realize that the incidents described there are from a decade ago. The fact that he refused to pay Mike Dunleavy's salary when the Clippers fired him in 2010 has much more potential to negatively impact the signing of free agents, if you ask me. Do you think NBA players care that he was getting blow jobs in limos in the 90s? They just want to get paid.
So the question is does the LA market plus the allure of playing for what looks like a good team outweigh the negative perceptions of the team. I think it probably does, but we'll see. Bear in mind that a whole slew of owners made a really bad impression during the lockout. From Dan Gilbert to Robert Sarver to Paul Allen, it didn't much matter -- it became clear that few if any NBA owners are really great guys that you want to hang out with. I read a couple of articles during the lockout saying that Sarver's behavior was going to affect Phoenix's ability to sign free agents. Puh-leeze. When there are 30 potential employers total, and only a small handful are interested and able to bid on the services of any particular free agent, I just don't think players and agents are going to limit their options quite so readily based on principle.
Griffin and Paul will both re-sign, barring a major meltdown by the team this season (and probably even then). The simple fact of the matter is that no player in NBA history has ever turned down a maximum extension when it was offered -- and the Clippers will make that offer to Griffin this summer. Once Griffin extends, the pressure will be on Paul to do so as well. He's part of a big two, and there's no guarantee that he'd get the same opportunity anywhere else. I also think Paul is thriving in the LA market. He's a very charming guy, and appearances on Leno and Kimmel seem to agree with him. Leaving a team for the second time in three seasons, to inevitably go to a smaller market than LA, would do major damage to his earning potential -- not necessarily in NBA salary, but in lots of other opportunities.
picknpop: Heard Odom wants to come back. What do you guys think? Especially given his most recently well documented issues with Dallas.
The rumor that Lamar wants to come back to the Clippers seems more than a little bizarre to me. It's not like he left the Clippers under the best of circumstances, and neither side has been very nice to the other since the break up. The only way to explain it is that LA is the only town he wants to live in and he is too upset with the Lakers to consider going back there. Still, it's weird.
Having said that, Lamar would be a terrific third big off the bench for the Clippers next season -- but unless he's planning on taking a really big pay cut, I don't know how he fits in. With Paul/Griffin/Jordan/Butler likely to be taking up most of the team's payroll in a couple of seasons, they can't afford to pay anyone the kind of money that Odom has made in the past.
GovernorStephCurry: Is it possible Blake Griffin will ever become a decent to good defender?
Ignoring the biased nature of the question (it's a little bit like being asked when you stopped beating your wife), there's no question that Griffin needs to do a better job on the defensive end. Clearly he's got the tools to be a good defender -- he's got more lateral quickness than anybody his size, he's strong, he's got a high basketball IQ. He's not long, and will never be a great shot blocker for that reason, but he's actually blocking quite a few more shots this year than he did last year. If he wants to be a good defender, he will be. Some of it is just experience and some of it is focus. He definitely takes possessions off on defense, and he needs to stop doing that.
Pippen: Do you think the Clips are legit contenders for a championship? If not, what do they need to do to become one?
Are the Clippers legit contenders? I really think it depends on what your definition of "legit contender" is. Miami, Chicago and Oklahoma City are clearly legit. All the other 27 teams have one or more glaring flaws. I believe that the Clippers have the talent to play with any other team in the league, that they're flaws are no more glaring than pretty much any other team. So if "arguably the fourth best team in the NBA" qualifies as "legit contender" then the answer is yes.
Now I'm not saying that I think the Clippers ARE the fourth best team -- I'm just saying they're in that group. The Clippers play terrible defense, and until and unless that gets better, they're not getting past the second round of the playoffs. From a personnel standpoint, they definitely need to add a wing player, preferably a solid defender. Unfortunately, the options are limited there, but the team is actively looking to make an upgrade at shooting guard or backup small forward before the trade deadline.
Going forward, the challenge will be to try to build intelligently around Paul and Griffin and Butler and Jordan. Beyond those four, the rest of the roster could be completely different next season.
Pippen: Are you tired of lob pass dunks yet?
No. There was a great one Friday night.