The Clippers like how things are running right now — after decades of being a league punch line they have become one of the league’s up-and-coming teams. The entire culture of the locker room has changed. They like the power structure in place. They are winning and selling out the building.
When things are going better than ever, you don’t make changes. Then general manager Neil Olshey bolted for Portland (just because they offered a massive pay increase). That’s a big change.
So in their new search for a GM, it shouldn’t be a shock the Clippers may stick in house. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports tweeted this on Wednesday.
Los Angeles Clippers personnel director Gary Sacks has emerged as the frontrunner for franchise’s GM job, league sources tell Y! Sports.
It makes a lot of sense. With the Clippers team president Andy Roeser is still the cap guy who negotiates deals anyway. Donald Sterling likes Vinny Del Negro. It’s working, so they don’t want to bring in an outsider (who would want to change things), they don’t want to upset the apple cart.
But there are big questions for the Clippers in the next year. It starts with can they do enough to keep Chris Paul? This is his team now, not Blake Griffin’s, and with him they are potential future contenders. Without him they are middle of the road.
The next big question is can Vinny Del Negro really coach this team up to the next level? We know what Bulls fans are saying. But to the Clippers they were a playoff team and won their first round series — they have gotten that far just one other time since the USA’s bicentennial. This was a good year, you don’t make changes after that. In the end, the Del Negro question ties back into the first question above about CP3 — it’s harder to find superstars than coaches.
Or, you can sum up the questions this way: Can Donald Sterling not screw it up? He hasn’t so far, so to keep doing what they are doing makes sense.
J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”
Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.
Raptors media relations:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.
Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.
The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.
Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley underwent knee surgery – never a great sign.
The prognosis is about as bad as could be expected.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
This injury isn’t just a setback for this season. It could derail the Clippers’ long-term plan.
They’ve already lost nine straight, and Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic are injured. If they fall further out of playoff position, they could become sellers before the trade deadline, especially with DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025 player option for next season) and Lou Williams ($7 million salary on expiring contract).
Health was always the major question with this team, and it won’t soften as Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari age through lucrative contracts.
The final year of Beverley’s contract is guaranteed for just $5,027,028 next season, and the 29-year-old will spend most of the summer recovering from this injury. That salary is probably low enough that the Clippers will keep him without hesitation.
Until then, down a couple point guards, the Clippers have no choice but to continue leaning more on Austin Rivers. That also means greater roles for second-round rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. That’s just too many players facing outsized responsibility.
The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Jazz and any other team competing for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference ought to feel better about their chances. They’re still competing with each other, and it’s doubtful all three make it. But Beverley’s injury helps clear the way.
The Clippers, who didn’t want to take a major step back after Chris Paul‘s departure, must confront an even more uneasy reality.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – one of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.
Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.
Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.
Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.
“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”
The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.
I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.