Believe it or not, the NBA's regular season is six weeks away. To get you ready, Crossover Chronicles will be profiling a team each day for the next six weeks. This week is the Pacific Division. Today is the Sacramento Kings.
2011-12 Record: 40-26, lost second round
Key Losses: Mo Williams (traded to Utah), Randy Foye (signed with Utah), Nick Young (signed with Philadelphia)
Key Acquisitions: Grant Hill (signed from Phoenix), Matt Barnes (signed from L.A. Lakers), Jamal Crawford (signed from Portland)
|Chris Paul||Chauncey Billups||Caron Butler||Blake Griffin||DeAndre Jordan|
|Eric Bledsoe||Jamal Crawford||Grant Hill||Lamar Odom||Ryan Hollins|
|Willie Green||Matt Barnes||Trey Thompkins||Ronny Turiaf|
The Clippers are a popular team. I cannot believe I wrote those words, but it is a place free agents want to be at.
Grant Hill, Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom are all title chasing abit and they all picked the Clippers, buying into the Chris Paul/Blake Griffin tandem and trying to latch on to Los Angeles' other team. It just is not as cool to join the purple and gold. It makes you wonder how long this will last for the Clippers.
But the good times are here for the long-suffering fans of the Clippers. In a way they have never been.
The Clippers have made the playoffs in back-to-back years just one time in their 27-year history in Los Angeles. They are certain to do so again with Chris Paul manning the helm and the continued improvement from Blake Griffin. What kept the Clippers from pushing through was perhaps that experience gap between them and the Spurs in the second round.
It is safe to say, the youthful exuberance of Griffin and Paul and DeAndre Jordan will be tempered nicely with the presence of versatile and professional players like Grant Hill and Lamar Odom. And, of course, Chauncey Billups will be trying to make a comeback from the torn ACL that cost him his season last year.
This is still a very dangerous team and one that should be improving despite some roster turnover and a general aging. It might be what this team needed.
The bad news for the Clippers is that there was a lot of turnover and a lot of change to a roster that was pretty successful. Gritty defender Reggie Evans is gone, and so might be a lot of that defensive grit and edge the Clippers will need in the postseason. The average age of the roster increased from 27.6 years old to 29.5 years old. A not insignificant jump.
This means a few things, of course. First, it does mean that the team has more experience and perhaps a bit more consistency. That will be a very good thing. The bad news is that it means there may not be a whole lot of room for improvement. A lot of the players on the roster are on their way down or nearing their peaks.
The Clippers are trying to strike while the iron is hot because success is fleeting for this franchise.
The problem is the way the Clippers are building their roster, it seems like they will be mixing and matching for a long time chasing after a championship rather than building a core to really build on. Griffin and Paul are great pieces to start with. DeAndre Jordan still seems to be overpaid unless his offensive game shows dramatic improvements this year.
Of course it could all work.
Chris Paul is possibly the best point guard in the league and makes everyone around him better. Chauncey Billups can still contribute (if he is healthy, of course). And Blake Griffin still has not reached anywhere near his peak. But is this a championship team? That is clearly their goal and it is hard to see all the pieces falling together just right.
And then you realize, this is the Clippers.
That might be an excuse, but every time the Clippers seem close to breaking through something catastrophic happens. Even last year, Billups' injury seemed to be a catastrophic blow to this team.
Los Angeles now has Grant Hill (remember his ankles?), Chris Paul (missed a chunk of a season with recurring knee injureis), Blake Griffin (missed his rookie year with torn patella tendon). Those are injuries that do go away . . . but this is the Clippers. Crazier things have happened.
That is not really my concern when it comes to Los Angeles.
There is a lot of uncertainty about the future of this team. Chris Paul is a free agent at the end of the season and has not exactly committed to re-signing. The rumor is he wants to join Carmelo Anthony in New York. . . still. That plan may not be down the drain yet.
Vinny Del Negro's future is as tenuous as ever. It seems like the Clippers are looking for an excuse to fire him (always seems to be in that camp).
And so it sometimes feels like the Clippers are the normal soap opera they normally are. This is a good team, but not a championship team it seems. Everyone is just waiting for the same old Clipper incompetence to return.
Have thoughts or predictions on the Clippers? Leave them in the comments below or drop us a line @CrossoverNBA on Twitter or join the discussion by hashtagging #ClippersDay. We will be back with a closer look at the Clippers throughout the day.