Tag: Los Angeles Clippers

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.

New Clipper Lance Stephenson: “I’m very good in the locker room”

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 3:  Lance Stephenson #1 of the Charlotte Hornets stands on the court during a game against the Indiana Pacers on April 3, 2015 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Lance Stephenson came to blows with teammate Evan Turner on the eve of the playoffs in Indiana, then Stephenson went out and became a meme by blowing in LeBron’s ear. In part due to chemistry concerns, the Pacers didn’t chase him too hard in free agency, so Stephenson went to Charlotte where he clashed with what had been a rock-solid veteran locker room.

The Clippers are counting on Chris Paul, Doc Rivers and their strong locker room to change that trend. They think they can get Stephenson to play nice and return to Indiana form on the court.

Except there’s nothing to worry about off the court. At least if you ask Stephenson.

He’s a dream in the locker room, at least that’s what he said at his introductory press conference with the Clippers, as reported by Arash Markazi of ESPN.

“I’m going to work hard this season to get those rumors out,” Stephenson said as he was formally introduced as a Clipper at a news conference at the team’s training facility on Thursday. “That’s not the issue. I’m very good in the locker room. You can ask all the players that I’ve played with. You can ask the coaches. I’m very good in the locker room.

“When I’m on the court I got that type of energy where it looks like I’m yelling at somebody. But when I talk to my teammates it amps them and makes them work harder. I want to take that [negative] title off my name because that’s not me. I’m a good locker room guy.”

There’s no reason to get into a debate if he had some locker room issues in the past — he did — because this is his reality now:

He better not have any in Los Angeles if he wants to get paid in this league.

He’s got two years, $18.4 million left on his contract, but the second year of that is a team option. If he flames out off the court — or can’t produce on it — the Clippers can just decline the final year of that deal. And if that happens Stephenson is going to find himself near the bottom of the NBA pecking order.

Los Angeles isn’t Stephenson’s last chance, we all know in sports guys with potential get a lot of chances. But the road back to where he wants to be — and a decent payday by NBA standards — is a long and winding one if L.A. doesn’t work out.

If one thing can motivate behavioral changes, it’s cold hard cash. We’ll see if it works in this case.

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.