Worst Ways the LA 'Clippers Curse' Could Derail the Team's Future
The futile history of the Los Angeles Clippers organization has caused the Clipper faithful to consistently expect the worst when watching this squad.
This squad is the best in Clipper history, featuring the perfect blend of youthful athleticism and veteran savvy. From Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan to Jamal Crawford and Caron Butler, the Clippers look to have finally put the pieces together as they prepare for another deep playoff run.
Despite the optimism, Clipper fans are far from exuberant. Clipper Nation is ever conscious of its unfortunate history and tendency for things to quickly turn sour.
As difficult as it might be to stomach, here are the worst ways that the Clippers Curse could strike again and derail Lob City’s bright future.
6) Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill Are Slow to Return
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Clipper Nation rejoiced when Hill signed and Billups re-signed earlier this summer, but both have been in street clothes while recovering from injury.
While Billups hopes to make a return by late November (via Lucas Hann of Clips Nation), Hill might be out until late December. Clipper fans can only hope that these two have a speedy recovery and get back on the court soon.
The Clippers will need Billups and Hill healthy by the time the playoffs roll around.
5) Vinny Del Negro Loses His Locker Room
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It is safe to say that Vinny Del Negro has had a rocky couple years in Clipper County.
The young coach came under fire last season for his predictable offensive schemes and poor defensive strategies (via Chris Broussard of ESPN.com). Following a brutal back-to-back-to-back three-game losing streak that ended against the lowly New Orleans Hornets, Del Negro was all but out of Los Angeles.
In a demonstration of confidence, Clippers brass decided to pick up his team option and keep him around for at least one more season.
The results early this year have been positive, but how Del Negro can handle the troops come March and April will speak volumes to the state of this franchise.
4) DeAndre Jordan Does Not Reach His Potential
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In his fifth season in the league, the onus is really on DeAndre Jordan to establish himself as one of the better centers in the NBA.
His first five seasons have been rather underwhelming, plagued by poor decisions on offense and defense.
A long offseason saw him work closely with shooting coach Bob Thate and the rest of the Clippers coaching staff in an attempt to become a force around the basket (via Arash Marzaki of ESPNLosAngeles.com).
Jordan has had some big games early in the season, but it will be on Jordan to sustain that development. For the price that the team is playing, Lob City cannot afford to have DJ ride the bench during crunch time.
3) Eric Bledsoe and Blake Griffin Underperform
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Somewhat lost in the hype of all of the Clippers' new acquisitions has been the progression of homegrown young guys Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe.
Griffin is already among the elite power forwards in the league, and is just beginning to capitalize on his incredible potential. Bledsoe has been more of a project, but he has continued the torrid pace that he played with in the postseason, and has become one of the best backup point guards in the NBA.
Clipper Nation is feasting off the precocious development of two of its younger stars, eager to see how the two will continue to develop.
With the Western Conference as hypercompetitive as ever, Lob City will need the sustained maturation of two of its most exciting young guns. Disappointing play will significantly hinder this team's championship potential.
2) Donald Sterling Makes His Presence Felt
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Since owner Donald Sterling moved the organization from San Diego to Los Angeles in 1984, the Clippers have consistently been the laughingstock of the NBA.
From Sterling’s disturbing lawsuit with former GM Elgin Baylor (via J.A. Adande of ESPN.com), to his courtside heckling of an overweight Baron Davis (via ESPN.com), Sterling’s active involvement in the team’s affairs has been a recipe for disaster.
Even with last season’s monumental acquisition of superstar Chris Paul, Sterling did not even reward his gifted GM Neil Olshey with a long-term contract. After the season, Olshey promptly bolted to the Portland Trail Blazers (via Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times).
Coming off the high of a second-round trip to the NBA playoffs and the team’s first postseason appearance since 2006, the Clips need to keep Sterling in the background.
With Paul heading into a contract year, the basketball brains need to run this organization, not the owner.
1) Chris Paul Signs Elsewhere in the Summer of 2013
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Chris Paul signing elsewhere after this season would be a fitting indication of the lingering Clippers Curse.
In just one season, Paul almost single-handedly turned the fortunes of this franchise around.
On the court, Paul is the team’s best player and the engine who gets this squad going. His leadership on the floor and in the locker room has been key to the Clippers' success.
Frankly, the Clippers cannot be counted out of any contest when they have Paul on the court.
His value to the team cannot be underestimated in any capacity, and the organization would be devastated if he changed teams this summer.