Los Angeles Clippers: Recap of a Good, Bad and Ugly Offseason
Unless you consider the potential addition of Ryan Hollins a major move (I sure don't), the Los Angeles Clippers' offseason shuffling is pretty much complete. They'll head into the 2012-13 season with a couple of new faces, but one thing remains very much the same: they'll go as far as Chris Paul can take them.
Still, though, it would be nice if Paul had a little more help than he did last season. Outside of Blake Griffin, Paul was burdened with directing an offense that, at times, was particularly hard to control. The backcourt and wings were largely comprised of inefficient shooters and the Clips didn't have a frontcourt player—aside from Griffin—who could get a shot without Paul spoon-feeding him.
Have the Clippers eased Paul's burden? Let's check out the good, the bad and the ugly moves LA made this offseason to find out.
The Clippers made two great moves in acquiring two very different players this offseason. In Grant Hill and Lamar Odom, LA snagged a pair of the most versatile forwards in NBA history, but versatility is just about all they have in common.
Hill is the consummate professional. Before his career was derailed by a series of ankle and foot injuries, Hill was a franchise player on the road to a Hall of Fame career. Following his hard luck medical issues, Hill transformed himself into an excellent role player. In Phoenix, Hill became a defensive stopper and even added a solid three-point shot—quite a change from his early days as one of the best penetrating forwards of all-time.
In Hill, the Clippers acquired a veteran of unmatched character and poise. Hill will provide an excellent example for the younger Clips, and can help share the leadership role Paul carried alone last year. If Caron Butler shoots 40 percent from the field again this season, expect Hill to play an even more important role.
Odom, on the other hand, has been plagued by issues of motivation and inconsistency for much of his career. He bottomed out last season in Dallas after being traded away by the Lakers. Though uninjured, Odom simply didn't play like himself. Perhaps a little too concerned with off-the-court pursuits, Odom's focus didn't follow him to Texas.
Nonetheless, Odom is an immensely talented player with an awful lot to prove this year. He should be comfortable with the Clippers, who originally drafted him out of Rhode Island in 1999.
Both Hill and Odom are a little over the hill, but each still has plenty to offer the Clippers this year. They're definitely "the good" in the Clips' offseason.
Though beyond the Clippers' control, Blake Griffin's knee injury with Team USA definitely fits the bill as the "bad" portion of their offseson.
The knee had been bothering Griffin during the Clippers' playoff run last season, but he declined to sit out. So, in some ways, the injury couldn't have come at a better time. Griffin will be spared the rigors of a long summer with Team USA and his injury probably won't keep him out of any games with the Clippers.
Nonetheless, for a player whose entire game is based on bounce and athleticism, knee surgery is a very bad thing.
One other aspect can't be ignored here, either. The Clippers signed Griffin to a five-year, $95 million extension this offseason. While that's probably too much for Griffin—he's now paid more than both Kevin Durant and Lebron James on an annual basis—the contract will move from "bad" to "ugly" if his athleticism is substantially diminished following surgery.
A torn meniscus is relatively minor in the grand scheme of knee injuries. But remember, this isn't Griffin's first instance of knee trouble. He also missed his entire rookie season because of a knee injury.
Overall, Griffin's injury combined with the big contract, comprise the "bad" portion of LA's offseason.
Two words: Jamal Crawford. Two numbers: four years and $25 million.
Crawford, at 32, was the single worst signing of the 2012 offseason—for any team. After watching Randy Foye and Nick Young hoist up bad shots from the perimeter, you'd think the Clippers would shy away from undisciplined, shoot-first chuckers like Crawford.
For his career, Crawford's field-goal percentage is just a shade over 40 percent—absolutely awful for a player who doesn't contribute in other ways. As a matter of fact, Crawford's one-dimensional game made a little history in 2011, when he was the worst rebounder in the entire NBA. That's right: there wasn't a single NBA player in that season who rebounded a smaller percentage of missed shots than Crawford, who, by the way, is 6'5". I guess the good news is he was just slightly better as a rebounder in 2012.
Crawford also doesn't pass the ball well. He was 35th among shooting guards last year in assist rate.
But wait, there's more: the deal for Crawford is for four years! That means he'll be 37 years old (his birthday's in March) before the Clippers will be rid of him.
On balance, the Clippers are paying relatively big money to a player who forces tons of bad shots, makes no one else better and (worst of all) is only going to see his skills decline as he hits his mid-30s.
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