Los Angeles Clippers Made the Right Moves for Second Straight Summer

Shel HillContributor IIIJuly 5, 2012

"I feel like there is unfinished business as a Clipper" Lamar Odom
"I feel like there is unfinished business as a Clipper" Lamar Odom

Young players in high school and college are often told by their coaches that players are made in the offseason.

Translation: he work you put in in the offseason will determine how well you perform and the playing time you get when the season comes back around. This adage is also true for NBA teams.

There are four parts that make up an NBA season, culminating with the NBA title in June. The NBA season is now in part one—the offseason, or more widely known as "Free Agent Frenzy."

The middle two parts are the preseason and the regular season. Players are officially able to sign new contracts beginning July 11 but, until that date, a lot of proposed trades and offer sheets are negotiated.

For the second straight summer, the Los Angeles Clippers have made good moves to keep themselves in the thick of the playoff race.

Last summer, the Clippers captured headlines by trading for All-Star point guard Chris Paul, resigning DeAndre Jordan to a multi-year deal and claiming 2004 Finals MVP Chauncey Billups off waivers.

This summer's acquisitions don't grab the headlines like the previous summer, but they are just as important.

First, the Clippers acquired Lamar Odom, the 2011 sixth man award winner, in a trade with his former team, the Dallas Mavericks.

Although Odom is coming off of his worst season as a pro, he seems ready to return to the form that garnered him the sixth man award while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers—where he was a part of the Lakers most recent trips to the finals where they were successful in two out of three appearances. Odom was an integral part of those championships.

Odom was originally drafted by the Clippers in 1999 and played four seasons until heading to South Beach and signing a new deal with the Miami Heat. He returns a different player and different person—in both cases much more mature.

The Clippers also resigned Chauncey Billups for a one-year contract. Billups only played 20 games last season before a season-ending Achilles injury. The Clippers missed Billups' late-game maturity and big shot prowess during the playoffs.

Without Billups, the younger players were forced into pressure situations. It can be said that those lessons learned in his absence can be the building blocks for future success.

In addition to signing Billups, the Clippers signed free agent sharp-shooter Jamal Crawford. Crawford is known for his ability to put up a lot of points in short bursts. He is a traditional shooting guard. 

He lead the league in free-throw percentage last season and has unlimited range on his jump shot. The loss of combo guard Mo Williams via the trade for Odom—and with Randy Foye and Nick Young exploring the market as unrestricted free agents—signing Crawford was essential.

The most important transaction didn't involve a free agent signing or trade, but an extension. Blake Griffin has agreed to sign a 5-year extension worth close to $98 million.

It is imperative that teams keep their superstars to remain relevant each year. Chris Paul will be a free agent next offseason. It will be just as important, if not more, to sign Paul to a multi-year deal and keep their superstar tandem together.