While Donald Sterling is making his last gasps at keeping ahold of the Los Angeles Clippers (moves that will fail), new owner Steve Ballmer is moving the franchise out of the shadows and into the sunshine.
Tuesday he started that process when he sent out this letter to the Clipper fan base via email.
To the Clippers Family –
You may now have heard that this morning I officially became the owner of your Los Angeles Clippers. So as my first official communication, let me say thank you for continuing to support the Clipper organization. We are now looking forward to an exciting new season and I can’t wait to experience the opening tip off with you.
Today marks the beginning of a new era in the life of our franchise. It also is the culmination of a dream that I have harbored for many years. To Coach Rivers, to our fantastic players, and most importantly to you, the dedicated fans that make this all possible, I pledge this: I will be hard core in my commitment to give the team the support it needs to be its best on and off the court. And I will do whatever is necessary to provide you, your family and friends with the best game-night experience in the NBA.
The Clippers franchise is a true public trust, and my goal is that the Clippers will play an ever-increasing role in the life of our community. We will achieve this goal the same way we will succeed on the court: By waking up every day and figuring out how we can be better – how we can do more – how we can ensure that the Clippers organization is not only winning on the court but also making a real difference in the community.
That is the challenge I set not only for myself but the entire Clippers organization.
Please join me for our Fan Festival, on Monday, August 18th at the STAPLES Center at 12:30 p.m. to celebrate what promises to be a bright future!
Steve A. Ballmer
At Microsoft, Ballmer was the guy who brought the energy. He has real star power and charisma. He is the kind of guy who can push and motivate the Clippers organization driving it forward, the opposite of the way Donald Sterling sucked energy from it. Ballmer may or may not turn out to be a great NBA owner, but I guarantee he will be an improvement over the last one.
In terms of the market, the Clippers are never going to be replace Lakers in Los Angeles, that brand is an indelible part of the city. But there is market share to be seized — with casual fans, with newcomers to the area, with fans who just want to be entertained and see elite basketball. The Clippers are contenders and will be the better team on the court going deeper in the playoffs for at least a few years. Ballmer doesn’t need to reach the hard-core Lakers fans — Los Angeles is a huge city. There is room to make inroads. Ballmer is just the guy who can lead that.
Just like with the Blake Griffin news earlier today, we expected this. Frankly, we kind of expected this back in 2013 when he signed his deal.
Chris Paul informed the Clippers on Friday he will be a free agent this summer, news broken by Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
Technically, Paul had an early termination option and he informed the Clippers he would be exercising that (not opting out as Griffin did). That said, we’re talking about legal semantics here, what matters is CP3 will hit the open market this summer.
And a lot of teams want to talk to him: San Antonio, Houston, Denver, Miami. CP3 is going to meet with a lot of teams. But let me give you the 57 million reasons the Clippers are still the front-runners:
The Clippers can offer a five-year contract at about $205 million, every other team can offer four years at $152 million. As president of the players’ union while a new CBA was negotiated, he helped get the over-36 rule changed to the over-38 rule in part so he could get one more five-year contract, and he’s not going to take it?
Paul is competitive and the Clippers may not be, especially if Griffin leaves (unless Paul thinks he can help land LeBron James next summer). He has to look around at his options and see if a move gets him closer to a ring. Maybe there is an offer he finds tempting. But the longer he takes could leave the Clippers stuck and create a bottleneck in free agency. CP3 and Griffin (and Gordon Hayward) and going to determine how a lot of other things shake out this summer.
Jimmy Butler is about to be back with a coach he respects, one he sees as a person who helped groom him for success, on a team that is the biggest up-and-coming threat in the West. He’s good with where he landed.
Bulls fans are not so thrilled. After a year of rumors, Chicago got Zach LaVine coming off an ACL injury, Kris Dunn, and just drafted No. 7 Lauri Markkanen. That’s it. Well, not exactly, the Bulls gave Minnesota the No. 16 pick as well.
Bulls fans loved Butler, and Butler loved them, as he said on his Instagram saying goodbye to the city and fans.
Butler had fewer kind words for Bulls management. Here is what he told Joe Crowly of the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I guess being called the face of an organization isn’t as good as I thought. We all see where being the so-called face of the Chicago Bulls got me. So let me be just a player for the Timberwolves, man. That’s all I want to do. I just want to be winning games. Do what I can for my respective organization and let them realize what I’m trying to do…
“It’s crazy because there was me talking with guys about Cleveland, then all the outside rumors with Boston, Minnesota, Phoenix, then the feeling that I’m not going anywhere,’’ Butler said. “I mean I had so many people telling me what could possibly happen, but I just got to the point where I stopped paying attention to it.
“It’s crazy because it reminds you of what a business this is. You can’t get mad at anybody. I’m not mad, I’m not. I just don’t like the way some things were handled, but it’s OK.”
The long-running complaint of players about Bulls management was in evidence here — there is not communication. Or, what there is comes off as rose-colored visions of things, where what players want is honesty. All of that seems to be in play here.
Will Minnesota treat Butler better? Maybe, but also winning smooths over a lot of friction — and the Timberwolves are going to start winning. They look on paper (and early) like a playoff team in the West next season, one that can climb from there up to being one of the NBA’s elite teams. Karl-Anthony Towns is a top 20 NBA player now, Andrew Wiggins is good, and the team has quality role players everywhere.
A summer ago everyone just wanted the Bulls to choose a direction: Derrick Rose or Jimmy Butler? Who is your franchise leader? Turns out the answer is neither. Which is frustrating to Butler, but he landed in a good spot. Bulls fans on the other hand…
Doc Rivers says he wants Blake Griffin back with the Clippers next season.
The bigger question: Does Blake Griffin want to be back with the Clippers next season?
The decision is in Griffin’s hands as he has done what was expected, opting out of his contract for the coming season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
A number of teams — Boston, Miami, and others — are expected to take a run at Griffin. (In Boston’s case, he’s a backup plan to Gordon Hayward, but there will be conversations.)
What Chris Paul — also expected to opt out and become a free agent this summer — and Griffin choose to do will help set the market. They are two of the biggest free agent names out there where they could switch teams (Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are staying put). If they take their time making a decision, it leaves the Clippers in a bind — they have to wait to hear from these two before starting replacing or rebuilding, but by the time they know other players may have decided — and could bottleneck the free agent process.
The Clippers are going to be one interesting team to watch this summer.
This is the standard penalty for coaches and players hit with a DUI. I don’t think the penalty is stiff enough in general for a serious issue, but this is the precedent that has been set.
Detroit Pistons’ guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been suspended two games by the NBA for “pleading guilty to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, in violation of the law of the State of Michigan,” the NBA announced. He will miss the first two games of next season.
This will not stop Caldwell-Pope from getting PAID this summer.
A quality wing defender who hit 35 percent from three last season, he plays a position of need for a lot of teams and he is a restricted free agent. Other teams with cap space — Brooklyn and Sacramento come to mind — could step in and give him a max or near max offer. Then Stan Van Gundy needs to decide if he is going to match. He may not have much of a choice, if he wants to keep Andre Drummond and build an inside-out team around him, he needs Caldwell-Pope, and the Pistons don’t have the cap space to replace him.
One way or another, Caldwell-Pope is in line for a massive pay raise. This suspension will not slow teams, it just takes a little money out of his pocket.