If you alienate all of your friends, eventually you’re left on an island all alone.
Someone needs to relay that prognosis to the Los Angeles Clippers, because alienation has become their go-to move.
First, there was the Chris Paul-Vinny Del Negro debacle, in which the Clippers indirectly pinned the “firing” of their former coach on their star player. That never needed to happen. Donald Sterling never needed to mention that Paul’s preference was not to bring back the man who had coached him for two years. Ultimately, the organization has control over the decision, but Sterling made his comments anyway – because the Clippers alienate.
Second, there’s the trade with Boston – or should I say, “the non-trade with Boston”. Want to make a trade for Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers? Great. DeAndre Jordan and a first-round pick for an all-time great, who is still a high-quality contributor, and a championship-caliber coach is one heck of a deal. But here’s the problem: The Clippers aired out their dirty laundry all too much.
The best organizations keep information internal. If they’re making a trade, the public doesn’t know every detail before it even happens. But with this Clippers-Celtics deal, we heard everything. When the Clips and Celts were talking about a similar Kevin Garnett deal back at the trade deadline, we heard everything. Even during the Chris Paul deal, we heard everything. Sure, some of the leaks probably came from Boston sources (that makes sense considering some of the first reported deals had the Clippers parting with Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, and two first rounders, the ideal package for the Celtics), but this is becoming a theme in an organization that wants to prove that it is capable of contending.
Now, DeAndre Jordan returns to the Clippers knowing he’s not particularly wanted after that same organization spent the past year taking him out of games upon every mistake he made, forcing him to sit during fourth quarters, and all along killing his confidence. The trade rumors won’t help. The detachment won’t help – and it’s because the Clippers alienate.
Third, there is the reason that the Clippers reportedly want to hold onto Eric Bledsoe. According to reports, it’s not because Doc Rivers could turn him into Avery Bradley 2.0 and it’s only partially because the Clips want to hold onto Bledsoe until Chris Paul officially puts pen to paper. Those reports say that in actuality, it’s because the Clippers would like to float a sign-and-trade to the Lakers: Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe for Dwight Howard.
There’s this strange public attitude toward Blake Griffin, one that assumes that a 24-year-old athletic mutant, who has improved vastly since his rookie year, can’t improve. It’s curious how or why that logic prevails in so many circles, but it does. Has that seed infected the Clippers’ front office? Because that’s the only explanation for a trade that would bring them a declining, unhealthy center, who would turn 28 at the start of next season for a young, consistent All-Star, who is on the rise.
The reasoning, though, isn’t even the worst part of the saga. The lowest low is that the Clippers let that information get out. They let the media report that their franchise player might be on the block. They let the media tell Blake Griffin that there are other players out there they would rather have than him. Why push away someone who is one of the main reasons for digging the Clippers out of a 30-year hole? Why publicly degrade a superstar? Because the Clippers alienate.
The Clippers have put themselves in as poor of a situation as they possibly could have. The death of the Celtics trade allows fans (and players) to speculate even further into the Clippers’ allegedly cheap culture. The trade could still happen (remember that the Chris Paul trade was declared dead the day before it actually happened), but the perception has already been warped. Publicly, the Clippers turned down the Celtics because DeAndre Jordan and two first-round picks was just too big a package. They didn’t want to give up that second pick. That’s fine, but the Clippers have allowed so much information to get out that it gives fans (and players) the ability to read between the lines. No organization wants that.
Did you hear the Clippers killed the Doc Rivers deal because Sterling doesn’t want to pay Doc $35 million?
You don’t want your fans to say that. And mostly, you don’t want your star, free-agent point guard to think that. The Clips kept Mike Dunleavy because of money. They hired Vinny Del Negro because of money. Heck, they sued Bill Fitch after they fired him because he “failed to seek employment”. Not wanting to pay Doc Rivers could be complete rumor, total untruth, but the Clippers’ history allows for that speculation. Not completing this Celtics deal only further pushes the cliché that the Clippers are a cheap organization and a star, free-agent point guard has to feel alienated because of that.