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.
Three days into the NBA season seems early to be discussing the semantics of NBA trade talk, but here we are.
There have been rumors that the Minnesota Timberwolves called the Cleveland Cavaliers, interested in talking Iman Shumpert trades, possibly involving Ricky Rubio (who at some point will lose his starting job to rookie Kris Dunn). And that the Cavaliers were at least open to the idea. But nothing came of it.
How serious is Cleveland on the Shumpert front? Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer addressed that in a Q&A with fans.
A few teams such as the Minnesota Timberwolves have inquired about Iman Shumpert, who has three years and $30 million left on his contract at age 26. The Cavs are answering the phone… But they are not actively looking to deal him, a team source told cleveland.com….
Keep in mind, Cleveland also has a trade exception worth about $11 million, the expiring contract of Mo Williams ($2.2 million) and Jordan McRae to deal. So if it is Rubio they want, they don’t have to trade Shumpert to get him.
What Varden is saying is Cavaliers GM David Griffin is not picking up the phone and seeing what he can get for Shumpert. But if teams call him…
Right now, the Cavaliers will need to be blown away to make a deal. Shumpert is backing up J.R. Smith and got more than 22 minutes of court time in the opener — he has a role on this team. Plus Shumpert is on an affordable contract. The Cavs are only going to make a move they believe makes them better right now — they want another ring. Maybe that offer comes, but the Cavs can be patient, and they have options.
The Baller and Chief is on his way out the door.
Barack Obama has been by far the biggest hoops fan to inhabit the White House (with John Quincy Adams a very distant second). He’s put up a basketball court at the White House, filled out NCAA Tournament brackets, jokingly applied for the Wizards’ coaching job, thought about becoming an owner, gone to NBA games, and just been a fan like the rest of us.
And he’s picking the Warriors to win it all. Like everyone else.
In what was primarily a “get out the vote” effort, President Obama called in to ‘Sway in the Morning’ hosted by Sway Calloway on Eminem’s SiriusXM channel Shade 45. Asked to pick the next NBA champ, the Bulls fan went exactly where everyone else did — Golden State.
“I’m going to go with the Warriors just because of [Kevin] Durant, that addition. I think they just have too much firepower,” Obama said. “Although they just got spanked in their first game, so it will take a while to figure things out.”
Obama also picked the Patriots to win the NFL title. He’s such a frontrunner.
With rumors of NBA expansion swirling, it’s time to look at more concrete evidence.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has repeatedly shot down expansion talk, and that’s not him going rogue. His bosses have apparently taken a firm stance.
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:
Basketball Insiders reached out to an NBA owner and a voting member of the Board of Governors and was told flatly that any talk of expansion has been shot down at every turn inside the Board of Governors meetings. It’s been a non-starter.
There is a theoretical one-time expansion fee so high where the current 30 owners would divide their shares of revenue further. But the NBA takes in so much annually, it’s hard to imagine a new ownership group could and would front enough money.
Sorry, Seattle (and Louisville and Las Vegas and…). The evidence is overwhelmingly on the side of the league staying at 30 teams. You’ll probably just have to poach a team from another city.
Greg Oden’s multiple injuries dictated the former No. 1 pick wouldn’t have the career forecasted for him.
But he returned from three years off an NBA court to play for the Heat in 2014. He followed that breakthrough with a couple tryouts and a stint in China.
Could he once again return to the league?
Dana Hunsinger Benbow of IndyStar:
Asked whether he’d play basketball again, he said, “I wish. It’s over.” Instead, he is back with the Buckeyes as a student coach, helping out the players and Matta any way he can.
Oden, who was picked one spot before Kevin Durant, once declared: “I know I’m one of the biggest busts in NBA history and I know that it’ll only get worse as Kevin Durant continues doing big things.” That statement is blunt, reality and sad all wrapped into one.
It’s a shame we never got to see Oden healthy for long. There was good reason for the Trail Blazers to pick him first, but injuries ruined what could’ve been an intriguing extend debate over him and Durant.
Hopefully, Oden finds fulfillment in the next chapter of his life.