This may be the last, best chance for the cursed L.A. stepchild to bust through the second round and chase the sort of success they’ve never experienced. More than a year ago, Doc Rivers, the team’s coach and team president, told me that teams who fall short over and over grow stale — and that the Clippers were “on the borderline” of needing a shakeup.
Three of their core four players — Paul, Griffin, and Redick — enter free agency this summer, assuming Paul and Griffin exercise early termination options. Paul and Redick are on the wrong side of the aging curve; Jordan and Griffin, bouncy types who rely to varying degrees on their athleticism, aren’t that far behind…
Steve Ballmer, L.A.’s moneybags owner, has already said he’ll pay the cost. Maxing out Griffin is a no-brainer, and the team expects Paul to demand the full five-year max (or whatever the longest possible deal ends up being in the revised collective bargaining agreement) to stick around, per several league sources. That would take him well past age 35. Gulp. Suitors will line up for Redick.
Rivers was right last fall: teams grow stale. People decide to move on. If the ending is unhappy again, I’d bet on at least one big change in Clipperland. For now, the team is trying to enjoy the journey — and the clean locker-room air.
Quick Take: Past letdowns need to be left in the past. When you’re as good as the Clippers, you do what you need to do to keep your core together. The current Clippers squad is as good as any we’ve seen in the Chris Paul era. And as CP3 gets older and slows down a bit, he’s exactly the type of point guard who should be able to adapt and get even more crafty.