The Clippers’ season is over and we’ve all got questions. If you missed part 1 of the ClipperBag, check it out before reading. Here is part 2:
Are there other deals Chris Paul can sign with the Clippers without taking the max deal? LeBron James did it.
Out of the current free agents (minus Paul), who else do the Clippers want to keep or should want to keep?
The Clippers have seven free agents in the upcoming offseason aside from Paul: Lamar Odom, Chauncey Billups, Ronny Turiaf, Ryan Hollins, Matt Barnes, DaJuan Summers, and Maalik Wayns.
I’ve already written too much about why the Clippers should re-sign Barnes so I won’t address it again. And honestly, who cares about bringing back or not bringing back Wayns and Summers? Hollins or Turiaf could come back on minimum deals but if one of them returns, that means the Clippers need to acquire another backup big who can bang and rebound down low because ultimately, those two didn’t cut it on the boards. Also, it’s a bit impractical to run out a system that includes two backup centers in back-to-back seasons.
The tough answers come when you get to the Billups and Odom questions. I would actually be all right with Odom returning. For all the negative press we heard about his offense, his rebounding and parts of his defense (mainly his pick-and-roll defense) still has value. He can still play in facets of the game. Maybe he shouldn’t be playing 20 minutes a night. Maybe he shouldn’t be making $8.2 million a year. Actually, he definitely shouldn’t be making $8.2 million a year, but if the Clips brought back Odom in a backup role on a veteran’s minimum deal, what would be so bad about that? (Aside from his 10.3 PER over the past two seasons.)
Meanwhile, the Chauncey situation is more awkward than DeAndre Jordan at a three-point contest. He says he wants to play two more years, but c’mon. Two more years? If he wants to come back, what happens? What could a proper role possibly be?
Chris Paul will probably want him to return. He’s a role model, an older brother for CP3. And if Paul wants him back – with the say we presume he has in comprising this roster – who’s going to say no to him? The general manager who isn’t really a general manager? The owner, who has never said no to Chris Paul before? If the Clips thought half a season of Billups was worth $4 million for this year, what’s next year?
But here’s the thing: if he comes back on a veteran’s minimum deal, it’s really not the end of the world. The Clippers could waive Willie Green (at no cost if they do that before July 1) and give Billups his roster spot. That would make the situation on the roster easier. But near the end of the season, we saw that Billups can no longer make shots, stay in front of offensive players on the defense end, or distribute. His athleticism is gone and he doesn’t provide any tangible value to a roster. If that’s all and he’s back wearing red and white again next season, the Clippers better hope it’s in a more limited role than what he was given this past season.
“Hi, Fred. Long-time reader, first-time question asker. How did you survive Ryan Hollins? I’ll hang up and listen.”
A lot of Pepto. A whole lot of Pepto.
How can I hang out with you cool ClipperBlog folks?
My self-esteem just went up about 10 points. This is the first time anyone’s called me cool since my mom said I looked “suave” after dressing up as the Allstate Guy in my series of Dennis Haysbert characters last Halloween. (Just in case you were wondering, the Allstate Guy and the president from 24 were essentially the same costume.)
Who is your top coach for new Clipper coach?
Let’s assume Vinny is gone. There are certain tiers for coaches that would come in to replace him.
- The incumbents: Vinny Del Negro, Robert Pack
All right, so we’re not assuming Del Negro is gone just yet. As Jordan Heimer has pointed out, Donald Sterling has shown a history of being irrationally loyal to empoyees that he likes. (See: Elgin Baylor.) As for Pack, his stock is rising as a Clippers assistant coach and if the Clips saw something they liked this season, maybe he’s got a shot to be there.
- The big names: Jeff Van Gundy, Stan Van Gundy, Phil Jackson
OK, Phil is just in there as a joke. That’s not happening unless Phil and Jeanie want the most uncomfortable wedding since Kim and Kris. A Van Gundy, though, would be great. Both are feisty personalities with great defensive minds. They’ve both been involved with winning orgaizations before.
Personally, I’d prefer Stan over Jeff. It’s tough to come back into the league after sitting out seven seasons. It’s not easy to adjust to such a changed league even if you’ve been sitting on the sidelines for all the action for half a decade. That said, I’m still holding out for a Van Gundy-Van Gundy joint coaching venture. If you want a coaching staff that hilariously argues on the sidelines, that’d probably be the best NBA team to follow of all time (aside from one led by a guy named Bickerstaff).
- The assistants: David Joerger, David Fitzdale
Kevin Arnovitz can give a better background on these guys than I. Joerger is an assistant under Lionel Hollins in Memphis. Fitzdale is under Erik Spoelstra in Miami.
- The wildcards: Steve Kerr, David Blatt, (fill in the name of well-known college coach)
I found Blatt’s name when I was scrolling through Arnovitz’s article and I had an immediate reaction:
“Oooh, that’s very interesting.”
I fell in love with Blatt during the Olympics last year and then he completely fell out of my mind. But seeing this makes a load of sense. That Russian Olympic team was so well coached. The ball movement on the offensive end worked so well. It played above its head, for sure. He’s coached in Europe for so long at this point (and he’s done such a good job in multiple head coaching roles) that doesn’t he deserve some sort of chance? I’m completely convinced that this should happen somewhere at some point.
- The guys who know Chris Paul: Mike Malone, Byron Scott
The Hornets history for Malone with Chris Paul might be a little overblown. He was only with Paul in New Orleans for one season. But his stock as an assistant coach is rising faster than yeast-ridden bread. That offense in Golden State looks so effective at this point that Malone is reaping a heavy load of the benefit. I think we all know the Clips could use some help with running plays on the offensive end. And as for Scott…
Byron Scott had his option picked up for 2013-14 by the Cavs. One of the reasons the Clippers hired Del Negro was because the Bulls contract had an “offset”. So does having the Cavs partially responsible for his salary and previous time with CP3 make Scott the favorite to place VDN?
Julio, you have to calm down. Not because you’re wrong, but because you’re really killing my enthusiasm right now. When I’m sitting in my kitchen writing at 2:30 a.m., I need some energy and this question is ripping the liveliness right out of me.
The truth is that one of the contributing factors to the initial hire of Del Negro was that the Bulls pitched in for some of his contract and the same thing would likely happen with Scott if any team were to hire him. Since the Cavs picked up his $4 million option at the start of last year, they’re on the hook to pay him that money this season. But if he signs with another team for less than that $4 million, the Cavs pay the difference. For example, if Scott signs a deal that would pay him $2 million this year, he’d get $2 million from the team he is working for and the Cavs would then pay the $2 million on top of that to bring his total salary to the $4 million that they owe. Because of that, it could be easy to get Scott on a cheaper contract than he deserves. And like it or not, that’s always a factor that has to be considered with the Clippers. Add in the fact that he coached Chris Paul for the first five years of Paul’s career and (like it or not) Scott may actually be a legitimate candidate for the Clippers job next season.
What do you think of Devin Ebanks for LAC? He can be had for cheap and can develop into a nice glue small forward type.
I’ve always thought Ebanks was a talented player that just couldn’t quite figure it out – but not the talented type on which you should take a risk, the talented type you send away. OK, it’s story time.
When I was a student at Mizzou covering the men’s basketball team, we played an Ebanks-led West Virginia team in Buffalo in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. I asked Ebanks the day before the game what he thought of Mizzou’s full-court pressure defense, a style that head coach Mike Anderson quite literally never came out of, regardless of what was going on in a particular game. Ebanks told me the press wasn’t very good and that once they break it a couple of times, Mizzou will go into its defensive halfcourt sets. When I countered by telling him that Mizzou presses all game no matter what, he looked shocked for a second and responded with something along the lines of, “Nah, they’ll be out of their press early in the game”.
West Virginia won in a commanding fashion (because it was a much better team than Mizzou) en route to the Final Four. But Mizzou never came out of that press. Of course not. It never did. But Ebanks didn’t do his homework. That was always the knock on him. I wouldn’t take the risk.
How far would the Clippers have advanced if they had pulled the trigger on the KG for Bledsoe deal?
I both love and hate this hypothetical at the same time. It’s both enthralling and frustrating, liberating and bounding.
Andrew Han actually wrote a brief piece on this last week, breaking it down in retrospect. Essentially, I do think the Clippers would’ve faired better in the playoffs had Garnett been there instead of Bledsoe. It’s not fully because Bledsoe is a worse player than Garnett (which he is for now), but it’s more because Garnett would’ve garnered significant minutes while Bledsoe didn’t play much at all.
KG rebounded like crazy against the Knicks, pulling down 13.7 boards per game in 35.3 minutes a night in that six-game, first-round loss. With the way DeAndre Jordan struggled against Memphis, KG would’ve gotten loads of playing time. It would’ve helped, for sure. But that doesn’t mean the Clippers should’ve done that deal (and it doesn’t even mean that Garnett would’ve waived his no-trade clause to make it happen, anyway). Bledsoe’s trade value is just as strong now as it was in February and a draft pick could be more possible to attain after the lottery than before it. And anytime you can get a young, effective player for a prospect, you’re probably better off than acquiring a 36 year old with injury issues.
Is it time to cut their losses with D.J. or wait to see how another coach can do with him?
We can’t answer this question until we know what the Clippers are as an actual organization and for now, that’s impossible to know considering not even the Clippers know what the Clippers are. There’s a reason the great organizations are great. There’s an organizational synergy there that’s top notch. San Antonio isn’t just elite because Gregg Popovich is a great coach; it’s also because he and R.C. Buford are completely on the same page. That entire organization has a plan and knows how to execute it, all the way from owner Peter Holt to the last concession stand worker. Same in Boston with Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers. Same in Miami with Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra. Same in Dallas with Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson, and Rick Carlisle.
But the Clippers don’t have that. Actually, they don’t even have a general manager right now. They had a three-headed monster of Vinny Del Negro, Andy Roeser, and Gary Sacks make personnel decisions last offseason and then finally named a GM after the offseason was over. There’s no consistency there. That’s how you end up with a coach wanting to trade DeAndre Jordan midseason while a de facto GM tells him it’s not going to happen. The Clippers had that chance with Neil Olshey. They had an opportunity to let a general manager who built a team finish his plan, but they didn’t allow it to happen. And until the Clippers actually have management that allows for that organizational synergy, questions like “Is it time for the Clips to cut their losses with DeAndre?” are never going to have a real answer.