ANNOUNCEMENT! We’re bringing back the short-lived ClipperBlog Mailbag AND the even shorter-lived “Ask D.J.” and merging them into something I like to call, “Ask D.J. and other ClipperBloggers about ClipperBlog mail that may or may not be in bag form.” We’ll work on the title. Anyway, ask us questions in the comments of this thread or hit us up on Twitter, and we’ll get to them in a post at least once a week. Probably. Maybe.
Also a short housekeeping announcement while we’re here: The site will be changing in appearance in the coming weeks, and the comments section will be receiving an overhaul. We want to clean that section up for the new site, so if you’re guilty of calling people names, spamming with 7 straight unrelated comments about, oh, say, DeAndre Jordan, or other stuff you know you shouldn’t be doing, please stop that. We’re all here for the same reason, and I know we all want to enjoy the comments section, so just be cool, man.
Alright! Let’s get to the mailbag:
Q. Will Chauncey Billups be back for the season opener?
A. My initial thought on this was, “Not bloody likely!” but upon further review, there’s actually a decent chance Billups will be ready for the opener on October 31st. Chauncey has made a career of proving his doubters wrong, so I have no doubts he’s rehabbing incredibly hard. That said, for Billups to be playing in the season opener, he’ll have a big hurdle to overcome.
Billups is 35 years old. He’s been in the league for 15 years. He has over 32,000 minutes played on the odometer. Everyone heals and recovers at a different rate, but it’s hard to just ignore age in this equation.
But even if you don’t factor in age or miles, Billups may still be facing an uphill battle. A recent study showed that out of a group of 31 football players who sustained an Achilles tendon rupture, 21 (64%) returned to play in the NFL at an average of 11 months after injury.
Even the youngest, freakiest professional football players take, at the bare minimum, 8 months. That’s how long it took 24-year-old Demaryius Thomas (apologies to Steelers uber-fan Charlie Widdoes) to return to game action.
The good news? Basketball players can return to action faster on average, it seems. You may remember Elton Brand rupturing his Achilles back in 2007 on August 3rd. He wouldn’t return to play until April 2nd — almost exactly 8 months.
Mehmet Okur suffered the same injury on April 18th of 2010, and made it back for the next season and returned to action on December 17th. Okur, for what it’s worth, was a little closer to Billups’ age at 31. Of course, we’ll avoid the issue of declined performance for now and focus solely on Billups’ return date.
Billups suffered his nasty, non-contact injury on February 6th. If his recovery took 8 months, like Brand’s did, he might be able to test it in preseason and then play in the opener on October 31st. It should be very close, depending on if Billups has had any setbacks in his recovery.
The hope is that Billups can be eased back into basketball shape as the season begins — there’s no need to rush his recovery. 82 games is a long season, and Billups wasn’t exactly re-signed for what he can provide in the “winter”, if we even have one of those in Los Angeles.
Personally, my fear is that Del Negro may rely too heavily on Billups in the early going. That’s something he did in the past when he played Eric Gordon 38 minutes in his first game back from injury, much to Eric’s dismay. Billups is a guy with a ton of pride — you just hope that he doesn’t try to go too hard, too soon and really hold himself accountable for saying he’ll be ready for the opener. I don’t envy whoever has to tell Billups to sit down and not rush, but that would seem to be the most beneficial thing for both sides, especially given the need to find Eric Bledsoe minutes.
Q: What about Blake Griffin’s knee injury?
A: Don’t sweat it. It’s sort of a weird coincidence, but I also tore my meniscus in my left knee right around the same time Griffin did. Of course, us normal folks have to wait months and months for and MRI and surgery dates, but I had the chance to ask a sports specialist about meniscus injuries and was able to get some good info. The recovery time, even for the most average of average joes like me, is 6-8 weeks after partial meniscectomy surgery. Blake is almost a full month removed from surgery, and my guess is he’s been able to keep in good cardio shape by swimming, since that’s an approved activity.
From everything I’ve gathered, this injury isn’t a big concern going forward. He should be fully recovered in about another month and ready to go for training camp. Hopefully, I’ll be laying in a bed eating ice cream at around that point. Or dunking again since that darn meniscus was just getting in the way.
Q: What do you think the Lakers getting Dwight means for the Clippers?
A: It’s bad news for any other competitor in “win now” mode like the Clippers are, no doubt. Getting by the Thunder AND the Lakers is going to be a tough task for any other Western Conference team, and San Antonio still lurks as a Clipper stopper. Denver just became a legitimate contender for a 3/4 seed with the addition of Iguodala, which in my mind might even be the biggest factor in this deal. Homecourt advantage and a Western Conference Semifinals appearance are going to be even tougher to come by this season.
But, here’s the good news: I think this helps the Clippers keep Chris Paul. My guess is that Dwight Howard stays with the Lakers, which leads me to believe Paul will stay with the Clippers. It certainly isn’t the only factor (far from it), but with Howard presumably off the market, is there a more enticing player to team up with than Blake Griffin? The only team that really scares me is New York with Carmelo Anthony (one of Paul’s best friends) and Chandler (ditto), but the Knicks would have to find a way to get rid of Amar’e, cut even more salary, and get extremely creative. This also necessitates the Knicks’ front office having a cohesive plan, which might be more unlikely than anything else.
To sum up: Howard to the Lakers is bad for the Clippers’ title chances this year, but it may accidentally help the Clippers with their more realistic priority, which is keeping Chris Paul in a Clipper uniform.
That’s it for this week’s mailbag — send us questions and we’ll get them in for the next edition!