It is two days before Christmas in 2009 and while they may not realize it, two years from now the Clippers might have a good indication as to whether a big Christmas present will be arriving in the summer of 2012 thanks to a man some have dubbed "the luckiest man alive."
Christmas presents and luck are not something the Clippers are known to have. The franchise has for decades ranked among the least successful in American professional sports.
But if trends continue for one of the league’s other lowly franchises, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Clippers could possibly benefit from what could be one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history.
In the summer of 2005, the Clippers and Timberwolves made a trade that sent Serbian guard Marko Jaric and little used Mario Chalmers in exchange for veteran point guard Sam Cassell and a future first round pick.
Jaric, who is married to Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima, failed to impress in Minnesota. Chalmers, meanwhile, was playing in Europe by 2006. Cassell became an instant hit for the Clippers and was a solid starting point guard for three and a half years.
The first round draft pick has been put off since the Timberwolves have remained in the NBA Draft Lottery. It is top-10 protected through the 2011 season.
Baring a miracle, Minnesota is almost a sure bet to remain in the lottery once again this summer. The Timberwolves have been involved in a number of trades and could have three first round picks for the 2010 draft, two of which may be in the lottery.
But the 2010 draft is not expected to be a deep one, which doesn’t bode well for the future.
Perhaps Minnesota can wait and hope that 2009 first round draft pick Ricky Rubio, who elected to remain in Europe for two seasons, will come back and jump-start the franchise. But there is no guarantee as Rubio has indicated he did not want to play for a small-market franchise.
So it will be a waiting game and if Minnesota continues to struggle, the Clippers could end up selecting one of the top players in the 2012 NBA Draft, if not the top pick.
Time will tell.
The top pick in the 2012 draft could be someone that is currently a high school junior, as it is now quite common for the top pick to be someone with just one year of college experience. The names that one should keep a look out for are Austin Rivers, James McAdoo, and Michael Gilchrist.
Rivers is no stranger to the NBA as his father Doc was once the Clippers’ point guard. Only difference is that the son is expected to have an even better career than the father.
Clipper fans may have forgotten about this draft pick, but people in the club’s front office are probably getting excited with what could be one of the biggest moments in franchise history.