Tag: Jamal Crawford

Los Angeles Clippers Media Day

Steve Ballmer: Clippers should win a championship if they keep their ‘Big Three’ intact


The Clippers eliminated the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs in what was an epic seven-game series, but ended their season on a sour note after a second-round collapse against the Houston Rockets.

L.A. held a 3-1 series lead before seeing it all slip away, and the lack of depth in place on the roster was a big reason why.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer believes the trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan should be good enough to win a title. But honestly, it just isn’t that simple.

From Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:

“We believe we are very close. The key for us is not to blow things up.”

Start with the roster. Ballmer reiterated that the Clippers hope to re-sign potential free DeAndre Jordan — “We love D.J.” — and that with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, they have a title-worthy threesome.

“You have arguably three of the best 20 to 25 guys in the NBA,” Ballmer said. “You should be able to win it with three of the best 20 to 25 guys in the NBA. I don’t think you’ll find another team with three of the best 20 to 25 guys in the NBA.”

In the same piece, Ballmer puts a little bit of pressure on Doc Rivers the executive to improve the roster enough to where Ballmer’s statement can become truth instead of fiction.

The reality is that you need an extremely deep team to win a championship, and despite having Paul (second team), Griffin and Jordan (both third team) earn All-NBA status, this Clippers team had little to no help available when turning to their bench.

Jamal Crawford was there to provide offense, but the defense took a nose dive in lineups that featured him on the floor. Beyond that, there was only Austin Rivers, who (to put it mildly) was inconsistent, at best. That led to the Clippers being forced to play their stars heavy minutes in the postseason, and just as we saw with the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, short rotations come playoff time, when fatigue becomes a very real factor, are a recipe for disaster.

Jordan is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Clippers are on record as saying that they’ll offer him a max contract to entice him to stay. Keeping their so-called Big Three together is a fine start to L.A. becoming a championship contender. But they’ll need smaller tweaks to the roster (like the recent trade to acquire Lance Stephenson, for example) to ultimately pan out in order to achieve that elite level of success.

Report: Clippers are “exploring” going after Paul Pierce. If he opts out.

Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers

The Clippers feel they need some roster upgrades — at the three and in terms of depth — if they are going to take the final step to compete for an NBA title with the core of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan. (They need to keep Jordan this summer, too.)

Team president Doc Rivers added Lance Stephenson via trade, but it’s bad news if Stephenson is starting. The Clips want to land another starting three this summer.

Like maybe Paul Pierce? That long-standing rumor still has legs, as reported most recently by Arash Markazi of ESPN.

One of the options the Clippers are exploring, according to sources, is Paul Pierce, who could sign a mini-midlevel exception of $3.37 million for up to three years if he declines his $5.5 million player option with Washington. Players don’t normally turn down money but it’s essentially a $1 million difference this season for Pierce, 37, to return home and be reunited with Rivers, who was his coach in Boston for nine seasons, including the 2007-08 championship.

The Clippers are also exploring trade options for Jamal Crawford, according to sources, and one possibility is trading Crawford and C.J. Wilcox, the team’s 2014 first round pick, to the Denver Nuggets for Wilson Chandler. The Clippers inquired about Chandler last season but nothing materialized.

Denver certainly is trying to shake up its roster and Chandler is a name that has been rumored to be on the move.

But the Pierce rumor has had long legs. He reportedly wanted to come to Los Angeles last summer, but Rivers used his full mid-level exception on Spencer Hawes — who was just shipped out in the Stephenson deal. Will Doc Rivers get a do-over on last summer’s mistake?

Pierce may choose not to leave Washington — he liked the young team, and in the East it is an easier path to the Finals than in the deep West.

But if he bolts, he may head back to his home in L.A., for one more run at a ring with his favorite coach.

Doc Rivers: Lance Stephenson starting for Clippers is worst-case scenario

Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers did the scary thing and traded for Lance Stephenson.

Now, they must figure out how to use him.

Clippers coach/president Doc Rivers on The Beat 980, via Arash Markazi of ESPN:

“I like that [Stephenson] can play multiple positions — really 2, 3 and 1 — because he’s a terrific passer,” Rivers told The Beast 980. “I don’t know if I made the trade for him to be a starter, per se, I look at him really more to be a utility player that can come in and play literally three different positions for us. When you look at us, we needed toughness and more athleticism and we get that.”

But if Stephenson isn’t going to be a starter, who’s going to be the team’s starting small forward for 2015-16?

“We find him, we work, we still have work to do,” Rivers said. “In the worst case and it’s not a bad case [Lance starts], and I still think that Lance is an upgrade at that position even if we wanted to start him. But I’m planning on doing more things this summer without saying much. We’re not done, clearly.”

I like the idea of Stephenson coming off the bench. He’s best with the ball in his hands, but the Clippers are way better running their offense through Chris Paul. Even Blake Griffin, who has developed impressive playmaking skills, is probably a better option due the mismatches created by being a focal point from the frontcourt.

The Clippers’ bench could certainly use more punch. However, Stephenson’s skills are somewhat redundant with Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers. That’s probably more of a problem for Crawford and Rivers, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, than for Stephenson.

The bigger concern than managing the bench is finding a starting small forward to replace Matt Barnes, who was dealt to the Hornets – though the issues could be related. The Clippers could try trading Crawford and  a draft pick for a wing, as they did last season. They could also attempt to sign Paul Pierce with the mid-level exception.

Overall, I’m with Rivers. Starting Stephenson wouldn’t be the end of the world. But the Clippers should attempt to form a roster that doesn’t require him to start.

Doc Rivers on report that Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan had a falling out: ‘I can put this to rest: They get along great’

Los Angeles Clippers v Atlanta Hawks

Once the Clippers were eliminated from the postseason, questions immediately began to surface as to what the makeup of the team might look like next season.

The core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan has yet to carry L.A. to the promised land, and the Clippers need to decide if Jordan is worth locking up with a max contract this summer in order to keep the team intact.

A report emerged that Paul and Jordan had a falling out during the season, perhaps rooted in Jordan’s inability to shoot free throws, and the work he was or was not willing to put in to turn things around.

Doc Rivers, as you might imagine, was eager to quash those rumors during a recent radio appearance.

From Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles:

“I can put this to rest: They get along great,” Rivers told Fred Roggin of The Beast 980 on Thursday. “Clearly, like everybody, they don’t get along all the time, and they don’t get along with me all the time, either, by the way. I don’t see that as an issue. I think all three, and I’m including Blake in this as well, understand how important the other guy is to them. Meaning, they all three need each other to win, and I think all three get that and all three know that and all three want to do it together. To me, that’s the most important thing.”

It’s beyond interesting that Rivers threw Blake Griffin’s name into the mix during this discussion, because there were rumblings out of Los Angeles during the season that Paul and Griffin had a strained relationship at times, as well.

The Clippers finished the regular season with the league’s most efficient offense — that’s right, it was even better than that of the Golden State Warriors. And, they did it with little to no help from the reserve unit, which featured only Jamal Crawford as a reliable option to contribute in heavy minutes off the bench.

Paul is as fiery a competitor as they come, so it’s only natural that his personality would be grating to teammates over time — much in the same way that Kobe Bryant’s non-stop, demanding and ultra-competitive nature can get old with those who are even slightly less committed.

But that’s a far cry from irreconcilable differences, which is the point Rivers was likely trying to make, here, while largely dancing around the specific issue.

Report: Clippers looking to acquire draft pick

C.J. Wilcox Los Angeles Clippers Presser and Portraits

The Clippers don’t have a pick in the upcoming draft.

They traded their first-rounder to the Celtics to get Doc Rivers, and they dealt their second-rounder to the Nuggets in 2009 for Cheikh Samb and cash.

Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:


This is a little surprising for a couple reasons.

1. The Clippers are tying to win now, not develop youngsters. Rivers has drafted two players since taking over the Clippers, Reggie Bullock and C.J. Wilcox. Bullock barely played before Doc Rivers gave him away to make room for Austin Rivers. Wilcox remains on the roster and is mostly stuck to the bench.

2. The Clippers lack assets to trade for a 2015 draft pick. They’ve already dealt multiple future picks, and they’re notoriously short on depth. Jamal Crawford is most commonly mentioned in trade rumors, but would the Clippers really deal their only reliable reserve for a rookie?

The one advantage the Clippers have is money. If Steve Ballmer is willing to spend, the Clippers could buy a draft pick.

Brooklyn is in a similar boat – looking to move up in the draft without the basketball assets to do so. Perhaps a cash-hungry team with extra picks – looking at you, 76ers – could leverage the Clippers and Nets into a bidding war.