Clipperdom Enigma Strikes Again
It happens every year. LA Clippers fans, if there are any remaining, begin the long days of hoping, and wondering and dreaming that one day it could all be better. Expectations are yet again left unfulfilled after a season where players are griping to escape the void of Clipperdom, and managers more than willing to do absolutely nothing about it.
This season the problem was the same old story; too many talented free agents for their own good. The tag of Worst Number One Pick Ever has shadowed Michael Olowokandi since he first stepped into the limelight in 1998, but not even the prospect of a lucrative contract at the end of the year could extract a decent season from Kandi. Lamar Odom was once again plagued by injuries, and is definitely in the running for the All Injured Team. After leading the league in assists on a team with virtually no offensive, other than Ricky Davis, Andre Miller disappeared off the radar on a young and talented line-up. The only Clipper to consistently play well was Elton Brand. Once again the rock in the middle was as steady and solid as a castle on the top of a hill.
As the Clipper faithful can all too well remember, the team has built, re-built, and re-built again through the draft, but the last thing they need to go through is waiting for a rookie project to somehow blossom into a star within a year and turn the Franchise around, then watch him go off into the sunset without acquiring anything in return, and leaving him a traumatized man, who was fortunate enough to stave off the annual Clipperdom epidemic. A part from acquiring Elton Brand in a Draft night trade, most recent Drafts have turned out horrendously in the long run. What they need are some crafty veterans, somebody to keep these youngsters in check, somebody to do all the dirty work and lead by example, somebody like Jon Barry, who is an unrestricted free-agent. He doesn’t need to log 35 minutes a game, he just needs to make sure the youngsters do what they are paid to do, and not worry about being paid to look good.
The Clippers have a young nucleus that is just oozing with talent and potential. But there is lethargy, there is no chemistry, and there is no camaraderie. And with virtually their entire starting line-up having a foot out the door, the Clippers will receive nothing if they don’t revert to the extravaganza that is sign-and-trade. It would be easy to just trade away all their free agents, but that’s not the solution. They need a line-up to play together for more than one year. They need to keep their young nucleus of Miller, Odom and Brand together so they can build around them, and compliment them with solid role players.
With the Draft only a few days away, here are some trades that could work in the favor of the Clippers. As always, leniency applies with the salaries, and some teams may have to wait until after the Draft to actually get the trades completed.
Olowokandi and Sixth pick to Memphis for Brevin Knight and Lorenzen Wright – Jerry West would be able to use this pick to take French guard Mickeal Pietrus, whom he is intrigued by, as we all are when a player is nicknamed Euro Jordan. And they also get a…legitimate 7-footer. In return the Clippers are finally rid of Kandi, and would acquire the services of pass-first point guard Brevin Knight who is solid and has a similar game to Andre Miller. The Clipps also acquire the wiry Lorenzen Wright to provide much needed rebounding and intensity. These guys are two solid back-ups that would provide a load of stability off the bench.
Wang Zhi Zhi to Houston for Kelvin Cato – Would Yao Ming pass on an opportunity to play alongside his fellow Chinese big man? Not likely. And would the Rockets want to upset their Dynasty? Not likely. This is a no-brainer. While for the Clippers, although Cato is not the most gifted center in the league he is one of those guys who doesn’t need the ball to be effective. Leave the scoring and fancy play to the rest of the guys and they can still be assured that Cato will give them solid defense and rebounding on both ends of the floor. Wang only averaged just under two rebounds a game, good for second last on the team only before Keyon Dooling, which is surprising considering he is 7-foot-1. Cato is certainly not the ideal starting center, but he is somebody that will compliment Brand on the boards, and not get in his way on offense by demanding the ball, which is what the Clippers need.
Corey Maggette to Phoenix for Bo Outlaw – This may require additional players to make the salaries work. The Suns pickup a quality two guard to replace the often-injured Penny Hardaway and in return the Clippers acquire the epitome of a hustle player. Bo Outlaw gives the Clippers that tough veteran who is willing to give his body up for the team, something they haven’t experienced since…well, ever.
After these trades the revamped Clippers would look something like this:
Point Guard: Miller, Knight, Dooling
Shooting Guard: Richardson, Piatkowski, Barry
Small Forward: Odom, Jaric
Power Forward: Brand, Outlaw, Wilcox
Center: Cato, Wright
Not a lineup with a lot flash and flare, but they will get the job done, regardless. They keep their young nucleus together, while surrounding them with veteran experience and hustle players that don’t need the ball to provide a spark. There is a nice combination of youth and experience that will hopefully mesh throughout the season and lead the franchise to their first playoff appearance in a long time; otherwise it looks like they’ll be back to scratch same time next year.
Simon Lim is an avid hoops fan from Australia, and believes the Raptors should take TJ Ford. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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