The Clippers are tired of being the other team in Los Angeles.
They traded for Chris Paul before last season, but it wasn’t enough. Not after Chauncey Billups was lost for the season with a serious injury when he tore his left Achilles tendon in February.
So, they went out and upgraded the bench and adding some scoring punch. Jamal Crawford was added to back up Billups and provide some insurance in case he continues to break down physically. The team acquired veterans Grant Hill and Lamar Odom to provide some frontcourt depth. In other minor moves, Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins, as well as former Laker Matt Barnes, were added to the roster.
Barnes is expected to compete for minutes as a backup small forward, and Willie Green as a backup shooting guard.
Crawford was the best pickup as he gives the Clippers a talented shooter that will help Paul, so he doesn’t have to try and do too much offensively like he has had to do his entire career (mostly with the Hornets).
Paul should be able to focus on running the offense and scoring when he sees an opportunity. Billups gives them a second floor general at shooting guard who can pick his spots to launch his shots and also run the offense at times. But at his age, he needs to choose his spots more carefully. The man can still play some ball when healthy though.
Caron Butler has more help at SF and that should save wear and tear on him. Blake Griffin is recovering from an injury he suffered during the Olympics, but he should be ready for the start of the season. However, he needs to develop his offensive game in order for the Clippers to become a special team capable of taking over L.A. from the Lakers.
Center DeAndre Jordan, who was given a crazy $51 million contract before last season, provides defense and rebounding. If he could develop an offensive game, the Clippers would be a deadlier team with more offensive options than just Griffin, CP, Billups and Crawford.
So what does all this mean for the Clippers? They need to try and win so Paul is enticed to stay in Los Angeles and sign long-term extension (he turned down a three-year deal worth $60 million in July) rather than leave and go to another team. That’s the trendy thing to do lately and Paul isn’t above that. No elite player is.
The man on the hot seat is head coach Vinny Del Negro. The Clippers helped save his job by beating the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the postseason, but the pressure will be on to get better and to advance to the Western Conference finals.
That has to be the expectation with all the money Donald Sterling has doled out. Sterling is a Scrooge when it comes to handing out big contracts, but lately he has spent the kind of money that leads to high expectations. Del Negro has to be happy that they are adding depth, but it puts the pressure squarely on his shoulders to make this work. Owners find it much easier to fire a coach than the 12-15 players on the roster if they don’t perform up to the expectations.
Lets see how good of a coach you are, Vinny.
Projected finish in Pacific Division: Second.
Darren Jacks is a regular contributor to OneManFastBreak.net. Send him an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.