According to Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Clippers never intended to pull the trigger on the heavily-reported trade for Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett. Rather than truly pursue the two legends, the Clippers were attempting to display a false sign of dedication for star free agent Chris Paul.
With Garnett now slipping out of L.A.'s reach, they will regret bluffing their interest in building a championship contender.
Holmes reports that the trade rumors that took the NBA community by storm were genuine, but the interest was not. This comes after more than a week of speculation, thus leaving the world wondering why L.A. would fake their interest.
Two words: Donald Sterling.
“The Clippers want to make an effort without really having any chance of getting it done,” a league source said.
“Chris Paul’s camp wanted Doc and KG, and [owner] Donald Sterling and the Clippers did not. But they can’t come out and tell [Paul’s camp] that they don’t want to win, so they’re trying to dance around it and play both sides.”
The sign of an organization destined to fail.
With Paul an unrestricted free agent and the Clippers possessing strong, but not necessarily championship-caliber pieces, this deal certainly made sense. While the asking price of DeAndre Jordan and two first round draft choices was steep, one thing is clear.
By faking their interest in this deal, the Clippers are the same old franchise that they've always been.
Frugal Reputation Remains
For those with some form of knowledge of the NBA, it's no secret that the Los Angeles Clippers are a team that has been viewed as one uncommitted to victory. While they've drafted well in recent years, L.A. has long been unwilling to spend top dollar to build its franchise.
This is yet another example of that truth.
At the heart of this controversial approach is owner Donald Sterling, who routinely comes under fire for being unwilling to spend to win. While building through the draft is a wise approach, re-signing players and building around them is a key.
Per Holmes, Sterling is unwilling to do that.
League sources said, though, that if it was the Clippers’ intent to only give the impression — in other words, bluff — that they were trying to make a deal for Rivers, it’s unlikely Paul would re-sign. “I don’t see how that could possibly work and would not bite them in the [butt] with public relations and Chris Paul,” a league source said.
“Sterling, he’d rather die with billions of dollars than have a championship,” a league source said.
Without Rivers, there is no Garnett deal. Without a true pursuit, there is no reason for CP3 to re-sign with the Clippers.
It's all about commitment.
CP3 Needs to Win Now
Chris Paul isn't just another player that's entering free agency with the high hopes of seeing a pay day. Instead, he's the premier player on the open market, serving as the NBA's most revered point guard and one of the top play makers of his generation.
If the Los Angeles Clippers expected re-signing Paul to be a shut-and-close type of ordeal, they're in for something else.
The Clippers certainly have an intriguing offer for Paul, specifically the allure of living in Los Angeles. Paired with rising superstar Blake Griffin and former Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford, the Clippers have a postseason-caliber core.
If L.A. isn't committed to continuously improving, however, CP3 will have no choice but to walk.
Paul is 28 years old and has a history of knee injuries, which suggests that his peak years will transpire under the terms of the contract he's going to sign this summer. With this in mind, the only rational option for CP3 is to sign on in a situation that he believes gives him the best chance to win.
If the Clippers are too afraid to spend money on a championship-caliber coach and a Hall of Fame center that still contributes at a high level defensively, why would Paul believe they're the team for him?
Cap Space & Dedication
The Los Angeles Clippers are unlikely to have much cap space if they are able to re-sign Chris Paul. For that reason, the only way to truly make a splash this offseason would be for the Clippers to execute a trade or build through the draft.
Picking at No. 25, it's unlikely they find a star, let alone an instant contributor.
Competing with the Clippers for Paul's services are the likes of the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets. The common theme for each of those teams is that, depending on how they approach their expiring contracts, they have a significant amount of space space.
In Atlanta's case, they could sign both Paul and Dwight Howard—something the Clippers cannot offer.
With multiple teams in heavy competition, the Clippers cannot afford to see their name come under fire. Paul is one of the premier players in the NBA, and with his window of opportunity as large as it'll ever be to win a title, signing in the wrong situation just isn't acceptable.
If this is the way the Clippers are going to approach surrounding CP3 with talent, they simply cannot expect to re-sign him.