There were mixed emotions about sending off potential rising star Eric Bledsoe at the start of the offseason. Apparently, the highest of the high in the Clippers organization experienced similar ambivalence.
Call it off, Sterling instructed Roeser, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
It didn’t matter the news had broken 24 hours earlier of the Clippers sending Bledsoe and Caron Butler to the Phoenix Suns with the Suns’ Jared Dudley and Milwaukee’s Redick, on a four-year, $27 million contract, joining Los Angeles. It didn’t matter the public had been praising Doc Rivers’ first deal as the new senior vice president of basketball operations and coach, that Rivers and general manager Gary Sacks had given their word to teams, agents and players that this was a finalized agreement.
Soon, Roeser hurriedly delivered Sterling’s declaration to Rivers, his ultimate “welcome-to-the-Clippers” moment.
This had been the kind of dysfunction that frightened prospective executives and coaches of Sterling, an eccentric, often illogical man long used to undermining and bullying staff that he had often kept on short, low-money contracts.
From there, over the Fourth of July holiday, a most unholy hell threatened to unleash should Sterling have been unrelenting in his reversal, sources described to Yahoo Sports. That bizarre turn of events had stayed within a tight circle of league executives, coaches and agents at the start of free agency in July.
According to Wojnarowski’s sources, some believed that if Doc failed to re-convince Sterling of the deal that the owner’s vacillation would have resulted in the resignation of his newly minted head coach and general manager.
What are the spin implications here?
The Positive Spin
This is simply the uncertain nature of the business. NBA deals are very hard to execute and three team deals nearly impossible. And it isn’t a surprise to most front office executives around pro sports that an owner would second guess any deal, especially when there is ample time to regret a decision during the moratorium.* At the end of the day it was just an extra minor hurdle all those involved had to jump for an owner that is unused to making impact moves at every turn.
*How would any fan, blogger, reporter truly know the intricacies of the owner/general manager relationship? It’s not the kind of thing one can really discuss with any level of authenticity because of the small number of owners (most who tend towards the eccentric) and the fact that it’s likely a poor career choice.
The Negative Spin
Another classic Clippers moment. Even when they are making dazzling moves to vault them into the rarified air of contendership, they can’t help but to self-sabotage. What is the old adage? You can lead a horse to water? Even if the deal ultimately went through, the Clippers have given their new GM/coach a taste of what kind of struggle it will be against the Sterling inertia. And now that the story is out, upsetting one of the most powerful agents, two other franchises and possibly your newly signed superstar point guard is so the Clippers.
The realities are likely somewhere in between. We can probably surmise that the story did not originate from the Clippers’ side as it’s obviously not the most flattering. And the fact that nary a whiff of this unrest has been mentioned until now may speak to the non-issue it has been to the concerned parties in Rivers and Redick.
But only time, and the win-loss record, will reveal how damaging actions like these were to the team moving forward.