Clippers Once Again Searching for a New Identity

***I was alerted to the fact that I didn’t include Blake Griffin in this article (thanks @Shea_Butter) and it was an honest, yet regrettable, oversight. he is obviously under contract for next year and will be a HUGE part of the Clippers’ new identity if he is able to successfully return to form after knee surgery. In fact, you’d have to think he’d be an attractive draw to any possible free agents, as will the Clippers’ lottery selection in this summer’s NBA Draft.***

The Clippers have many, many areas in desperate need of repair this off-season.

They currently only have 4 players under contract for next season, Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and DeAndre Jordan (though they do hold the “Bird Rights” for Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw) and don’t have a head coach.

After trying (and failing) to revive the team with the signing of Baron Davis two off-season s ago, the Clippers find themselves yet again needing to add a new image to the team through a new addition and figure to play a major role in this summer’s free agent bonanza.

Through some brilliant maneuvering around the trade deadline, the Clippers are in position to be key players in this summer’s free agent bonanza, where the most sought-after players would be Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

Through some horrible mismanagement over time, the Clippers are not in a position to actually land any of these sought-after players this summer.

Think about it – there is no way any player around the league is thinking, “I’ll go to the Clippers, that’s a place where I can build/cement/repair my image and get some numbers.” Baron and his bad attitude and the team’s historical ineptitude are major drawbacks to attracting any free agents.

But the great equalizer here is money, and the Clippers will have a LOT of it to spend this summer.

The smart business move would be to sign guys like Drew Gooden, Rasual Butler and Craig Smith, thereby giving the team some semblance of continuity. Then add a second-tier free agent or two at second-tier money, then re-sign Blake and Outlaw.

But “smart business move” and “Los Angeles Clippers” rarely find themselves in the same sentence, so why should this off-season be any different?

The worst decision the team could make would be to throw max or near-max money at guys like Rudy Gay, Carlos Boozer, Joe Johnson or any of the guys on the market not named James, Wade or Bosh – guys who won’t instantly  bring a boost in ticket sales or wins (and yes, that seems to be the order of priority for the Clippers).

The best decision the team could make would be, in addition to signing the aforementioned players, would be to hire a coach who can bring stability to the team and establish a presence that would be attractive to the next batch of marquee free agents (if he doesn’t sign an extension in the mean time, Kevin Durant will be an unrestricted free agent in two years. That $60 million Nike contract would be up for renewal in 2014 and could be much, much more lucrative for both parties if he was playing in LA…there’s the delusion creeping back in).

So, naturally I expect them to sign Rudy Gay to the max deal and hire another stuffed shirt as coach who will be tuned out by Christmas.

But this is a place for optimism (read: delusion), and I’m going to hope for the best this summer.

Tomorrow I’ll run down a list of head coaching candidates and my opinion on who they should hire.

I’m also working on a Mock Draft and should have it up  by Friday.

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Tags: Baron Davis Carlos Boozer Chris Bosh Chris Kaman Craig Smith DeAndre Jordan Drew Gooden Dwayne Wade Eric Gordon Joe Johnson Kevin Durant Lebron James Los Angeles Clippers Rasual Butler Rudy Gay Steve Blake Travis Outlaw

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