It may sound crazy, but the Los Angeles Clippers' championship window is closing.
Of course, most people probably don't consider the Clippers to even have a championship window, let alone entertain the notion that it might actually be open right now. But it is—just barely.
After the best season in franchise history and a "there's no shame in that" defeat at the hands of the battle-tested San Antonio Spurs, the Clippers were closer to a title in 2011-12 than they've ever been.
They've made a couple of savvy additions (and one horrible one—Jamal Crawford) to the roster this offseason by signing Grant Hill and trading for Lamar Odom. If Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler can stay healthy, the Clippers' potential playoff roster will have four new contributors.
So, if we can believe, just for a moment, that the Clippers are actually a championship contender, we've also got to recognize that they're only built to contend this year.
Just look at the roster. Aside from Chris Paul, who has been relatively durable (and not opposed to playing hurt), the Clippers are mostly comprised of players who are old, injury-prone or both.
Grant Hill will turn 40 before the season starts. Chauncey Billups is 36. Caron Butler's 32, and Lamar Odom will be 33 in November. And other than Odom, these guys have all suffered major injuries in their careers—including Chauncey Billups' season-ending Achilles blowout last year.
The injury concerns don't only exist with the old guys, though. Blake Griffin's recently torn meniscus raises serious concerns for the 23-year-old. He's now got two serious knee operations since he was drafted in 2009. If he returns to form this year, it will be a great sign. But nobody's style of play puts more stress on the knees than Griffin's does. When it comes to the next injury, for Griffin, it's a "when" question—not an "if" one.
So, the Clippers have more talent than they did last year during their franchise-best run. And they've got a ton of veteran experience. But that talent is extremely fragile, and the experienced vets are deteriorating with every passing second.
If you're among the few who believe that the championship window is open, you'll probably also agree that it's closing in a hurry. If the Clippers are ever going to make a real run at a title, it will have to happen this year.