The Clippers are tough to figure out. On paper, what more do they really need?
You might not be able to find a more talented core with Baron Davis, Zach Randolph, Marcus Camby, and Chris Kaman headlining them.
Apparently, the real problem is how the pieces fit together.
With that in mind, will the upcoming NBA Draft be able to provide any help for Davis, Randolph, Camby, or Kaman? It all depends on who stays and who goes.
- Camby should have the most trade value as a great defensive player with an expiring $7.65M contract.
- The Clippers would love to send Kaman somewhere, but with his numerous injuries, poor play, and large contract—three years, $33.9M left after this year—that is not happening anytime soon.
- Davis was a bad fit the moment Elton Brand skipped town. He only plays when he is happy. He is only happy when his team is winning, and playing the way he wants to play. At 18-60, I think it is safe to say Baron is not very happy and when that happens, poor shot selection, ball hogging, and injuries begin to accumulate. For anyone who has paid attention, that is exactly what is happening in L.A.
- Randolph might not have the overall game of Brand, but he certainly can fill it up from all over the court (21 PPG) and has shown an ability to gobble up rebounds (10.2 RPG). I see him staying.
The other big question mark is whether coach/GM Mike Dunleavy will be staying or going, or at least whether he will be moved to the front office and relieved of his head coaching duties.
I worked for the Clippers for three seasons, from 2005-2007, and saw the change first hand.
Dunleavy had a great effect on this lowly franchise and did not take crap from anyone. It was he who traded fan-favorite Chris Wilcox and he who moved Corey Maggette to the sixth man role.
But just because he came in and changed the culture of the worst franchise in sports, does not mean he deserves a job for life.
Believe me, there is a growing number of people in the office who agree with me, but there is no way he will get fired as long as he is under contract.
The only other solution is to limit Dunleavy to the general manager position and let someone else take control of the coaching reigns.
If the big four (Davis, Randolph, Camby, and Kaman) are all back next year, drafting someone like Blake Griffin would not really help the team. Instead, if the Clippers get the No. 1 selection overall, they should trade it, preferably for a wing.
Eric Gordon and Al Thornton are both nice players, but if the team can get an elite scoring wing (i.e. Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson), then they could use either Gordon or Thornton as the sixth man.
Both would provide scoring punch off the bench, something every team needs.
If they have the second pick, I say there is no way they pass up on Ricky Rubio to be the eventual successor to Davis, unless they can find a willing taker for the four years, $54M left on his contract.
Rubio is an exciting young player who embodies the point guard better than anyone I have seen since Chris Paul.
If they get the third pick, I really do not know if there is a solid third option in this year's draft.
There are a lot of bigs with potential, but that role is already taken by DeAndre Jordan, who has not found much playing time in the crowded frontcourt, even with all three bigs injured most of the year.
I think there is more value in picks 10-15, where I think Stephen Curry, if he stays in the draft, will make some team extremely happy.
If it were up to me, I would trade the pick, unless I can get Rubio.
I see no one else helping the Clippers, who already have some nice young talent. What they really need are healthy bodies and a better mix.
Seeing that it is not up to me, I see the Clippers letting Dunleavy continue to perform both coaching and GM duties, keeping all of his bigs, and adding a young player like Hasheem Thabeet, Greg Monroe, or Ed Davis in the draft.
It is the Clippers way!