Wednesday, December 14, 2011

CP3 and Griffin are nice, but what else?

Chris Paul to the Lakers! Nixed. Chris Paul to the Knicks! Never was on the table! Chris Paul to the Clippers? Sterling won't do it. Lakers back? Lakers gone. Clippers back, back, back, Home run!!!

There you have it. Donald Sterling's Clippers are, on paper, better than the Lakers, or at least comparable. Star player with bad knees? Check. Star youth with sky high potential but scary health risk? Check. Strong defensive coach? Check. But what else do the Clips have? What else do they need to become a the best team in the West, let alone the best team in their own city?

Well for starters, last year's arguably number 1 and 2 point guards in the Western Conference now belong to the Los Angeles Clippers. Number one obviously being Chris Paul. The second? He just came through the back door while everyone watched Chris Paul walk through the front. Chauncey Billups. Be sure that I know that this is not 2004. Billups is far from what he once was, but is still a major talent and a major asset to the team as a locker room presence (he helped harness the insanity that was Rasheed Wallace and focused the lax Carmelo Anthony into an elite player). What Chris Paul doesn't already know as the league predominant floor general Billups knows and mastered in his days as Detroit's finest. He is a fighter who earned his role in the NBA and can teach this squad how to fight to the top. And don't forget to mention that Billups defensive capabilities, and ability to shoot the rock and play without it allows the Clippers to run both he and Paul simultaneously.

He may be tough to get but Aaron Afflalo could be
the difference from a good showing this year and
trip to the finals.
At the same position the Clippers have Mo Williams. Subtract Billups winning history ad intangibles, we have a poor man's Billups. Lower totals across the board but, for a back up, potentially number 3 point guard, Williams is as good as it gets and, expendable. Considering that the Clippers need a legit shooting guard to take advantage of the room Paul and Griffin will allow them while Billups is not on the floor, the Clippers need to use Williams and his $8 million dollar salary and flip him for  a sharp shooting, defensive minded guard. Aaron Affalo, the burgeoning name on the free agent market could be had in a sign and trade. Though he is close to a new deal with the Nuggets, the Clippers still have assets to make the trade work. Lesser options include Nick Young, shooting but no D, Willie Green, solid but not great, O.J. Mayo, who could benefit from a solid locker room and tough coach in Vinnie Del Negro, or Jamal Crawford, but I think he would be too expensive and too Jekyll and Hyde. I like Afflalo or Mayo here.

Caron Butler is a good SF. Don't fool yourself into thinking he's overpaid, under-talented, or overrated. I believe the role he is set to play on this team, the contract he signed and the way he plays the game are a perfect fit for this team. Now his balky knee isn't as great of an addition. There's only room for Paul and Griffin's knee's around here so he needs to stay healthy. But when he is healthy he's scrappy, he plays solid team defense and shoots a solid clip from the strip and within the ark. And he has a reason to play with a chip on shoulder this season, with all the doubts he has been faced with and the truths he has had to face (like that he is not a franchise player and hasn't played more than 50 games in a year since 2008.) If Butler can p,lay a solid 25 a game for 50 plus games and his back up is solid, the Clips should be set with a classic, gritty swingman on the wing.

As for his backup, well for one thing its looking more and more that Ryan Gomes and his $4 million dollar contract will become an amnesty victim. The best option here is a solid two faze player, shooter and defender. There aren't many left that can play the wing and I won't pretend to know any that are available on the trade market. But the way things are shaping up with the amnesty clause and free agency, the Clippers will be able to find a player worth taking a flyer on. Maurice Evans is solid on Defense with a decent stroke from 3, and should still have a place to stay in La-La Land. As long as he keeps the ball out of his offensively when he's not shooting the corner 3 he would be a great, experienced and cheap addition to the bench, or someone like him.

And lastly, we have DeAndre Jordan. Lets get this straight. The kid is a beast. Had Blake Griffin not be 360 dunking on everybody in the league we would have noticed DeAndre's progressive growth to #BEASTMODE status as Blake's huge partner in dunking crime. Aside from his freakish athleticism that rivals Dwight Howard's jumps, the opportunity to grow into a Tyson Chandler on caffeine with Chris Paul in town is about as apparent as what your about to witness if you see a dog alone in a room fool of people food. Your gonna see some hunger. For three season, DeAndre has averaged, per 36 minutes, a nice .649 shooting percentage, nearly 11 rebounds, nearly 3 blocks and 10 points per. And that includes only one year with Blake make space and three fighting for time from Chris Kaman. It is insanely easy to see that the addition of Paul, who witnessed and nurtured Chandler's growth into a force in the middle, and  his natural growth as a player in the NBA (three years experience and is only 23) can truly vault him into top 3 center territory. How's that for a bold prediction.

No matter what happens, with the NBA's version of Occupy New Orleans Front Office officially broken up by the trade police for vandalizing further the NBA's appeal, this will easily be the most fascinating team to watch grow together.  More than the Heat because we won't hate them. More than the Lakers, well because they got CP3 and Jim Buss didn't. And more than any other team because this will go amazingly well, or, horribly wrong. Either way, I'm ready to see what Chriffin and friends have in store for us this season.

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