The fundamental question for the Clippers this season: Will they keep their pending free agents happy?
Though J.J. Redick factors, the Clippers can always outspend competitors to keep him. The bigger focus revolves around Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. The stars will have their choice of max offers, and their endorsement deals minimalize the effects of the higher raises and extra year the Clippers can offer.
The early returns for the Clippers are positive on the duo, who haven’t always meshed.
The Clippers are outscoring opponents by 22.4 points per 100 possessions when Paul and Griffin share the floor. And they’re also clicking off the floor.
Paul, via Sam Amick of USA Today:
“Oh, no question (it’s) better now than ever,” Paul told me on Friday. “Like I’m saying, we both have matured so much, and our communication is amazing right now, so sometimes it takes time. That’s what (happened) with me and BG, and there’s nothing like it right now. We are having some of the most fun that we’ve had in our time together.”
If you’re the Clippers, this is everything you hope to hear right now. But it means only so much.
The last couple seasons have ended in playoff disappointment, blowing a 3-1 lead to the Rockets in the 2015 second round and having injuries decimate the team in the first round against the Trail Blazers last season. Something similar could send Paul and Griffin into free agency on a sour note.
The final impression matters more than the feeling in November, but at least there’s positivity now. That’s all the Clippers can ask so for.