L.A. Clippers: 7 Reasons Losing GM Neil Olshey Will Unravel Franchise

Kyle Boggs@@kylekboggsCorrespondent IJune 14, 2012

L.A. Clippers: 7 Reasons Losing GM Neil Olshey Will Unravel Franchise

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    As can only happen to the Los Angeles Clippers, the rug gets pulled out right as things start going well.

    General manager Neil Olshey collected Chris Paul in an NBA-aided coup last season. That catapulted the Clips into the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

    Then, apparently sick of working on a month-to-month salary, Olshey bolted up I-5 to Portland.

    Just as the Olshey-led Clippers looked like they were on the right path, now the front office must start anew.

    That does not bode well for L.A.'s newly proud fans.

Lost Momentum

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    Clipper Nation emerged this year. After decades of hiding in the Lakers’ shadow, pride for the Clippers came to the surface.

    With Chris Paul leading the attack and Blake Griffin finishing it, L.A. finally has top-tier talent to march onto the hardwood.

    Paul and many of the players surrounding him—Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Kenyon Martin, Nick young—were put in place by Olshey.

    Olshey orchestrated a handful of significant moves to put these players in place. That had L.A. on the up-and-up.

    Those players are still in place, but the hope of more moves in the same vein took a kick to the pit of the stomach when Olshey left the front office.

Second-Tier Status...Again

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    Seeing the general manager of a playoff team abandon ship to take the same position on a lottery team is a black mark for a franchise.

    Olshey’s departure demonstrates the Clippers' GM position still isn’t a destination job.

    The Clippers appeared to be one of the NBA’s up-and-coming teams this year. It looked like a great front office to work in. Someone in a managerial role has the ability to surround the core group—Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan—with complementary pieces to make this team a perennial contender.

    That’s the precise reason people take on GM positions.

    Yet the franchise, apparently, is still run poorly enough to run talented individuals out of town.

    With Olshey gone, Los Angeles still belongs to the Lakers.

Group Approach

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    It’s been about 10 days since Neil Olshey announced he was signing with the Portland Trail Blazers. It should come as no surprise he has not been replaced yet. Finding a general manager is not a quick process.

    But L.A. doesn’t seem to have its list narrowed down.

    That leaves the Clippers entering free agency and the draft in a precarious position. Instead of having one person call the shots, the front office will operate as a triumvirate.

    Without a GM, team president Andy Roeser, head coach Vinny Del Negro and director of player personnel Gary Sacks will take on managerial duties as a group.

    Hearing each of their opinions is valuable, but there must be one person to ultimately call the shots.

    In theory, the three making a decision together is great. In practice, it’s not that easy.

    Think about the last time you were with a group of friends deciding on where to eat dinner. One guy had pizza last night, the other guy’s ex works at the Mexican restaurant and you don’t eat fish. Instead of going somewhere, you walk around bypassing several perfectly good options because nobody can make an agreement. Eventually the group settles on something nobody wants.

    And that’s just deciding on a $15 dinner and beer. Roeser, Del Negro and Sacks will brainstorm on decisions costing $15 million.

No Improvement Through Draft

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    The Clippers have only the 53rd pick in this year’s draft. An ambitious GM could figure out a way to improve the team on draft day with only a late second-round pick.

    A team without a general manager can’t.

    Don’t expect much out of this year’s draft. There might still be a good player around at No. 53 in this deep draft class, but L.A. won’t have the right person in position to find him.

Blake Griffin Offer

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    It’s ludicrous to think anyone involved with the Clippers wouldn’t sign Blake Griffin to a max deal first thing on July 1.

    Not doing so allows Griffin to be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2013 season. Nobody would want to be the man who let Griffin get away.

    But, one must remember, the man who owns the Clippers doesn’t have a very good track record.

    If Donald Sterling—and not a basketball person—is in charge of locking up Griffin, the impossible may actually happen. It’s highly unlikely that even someone as inept as Sterling would let Griffin become a free agent.

    But it’s also highly unlikely an owner of a major sports team would mock one of his players during a game.

Chris Paul’s Impending Free Agency

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    Chris Paul is the most important player to the Los Angeles Clippers. He can leave after the 2012-13 season.

    L.A. has to find a way to keep him. Having a full-time general manager in place is a key component to signing a star of Paul’s magnitude.

    Olshey was the man who pulled the strings to get Paul to L.A. He likely would have figured out a way to keep him there.

    Now someone else must find a way to do it. That someone must be ready to devote a lot of time and energy to being sure Paul is happy with the Clippers.

Donald Sterling

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    Having no general manager in place opens the door to Donald Sterling having more sway in day-to-day activities.

    Keeping Sterling’s antics as far away from important decisions is in the best interest of the franchise.

    If he meddles in basketball operations, the juggernaut Olshey helped create will explode.