In the wake of DeAndre Jordan spurning the Clippers for a max contract and more involvement offensively with the Dallas Mavericks, it’s overreaction season in the NBA.
That’s what often happens after significant changes take place — hyperbole permeates the sports world. I’ve heard people suggest that the Clippers will miss the postseason next year. If this was years ago, you could say this and not be looked at like you had three heads. But now, it feels like an egregious statement.
But how did we get here? How do you go from being on the brink of a trip to the conference finals to having people suggest a catastrophic downfall is imminent?
This situation has always been a conundrum to everyone watching the Clippers pursue the hardware that has evaded them for their entire history. How is it possible to have this talented of a roster with a Hall of Fame coach and woefully fall short of capturing a title year after year?
Los Angeles has forever been a Lakers town by virtue of their success measured up against the conspicuous failures of the Clippers. The team sporting the purple and gold had long been the golden child born with a spoon in its mouth. The Clippers felt like the adopted child desperately trying to ingratiate himself with the family, but always falling short because of the spoiled sibling’s glare.
But when the bigotries of Donald Sterling were broadcasted on public airwaves, the nation gravitated toward this new emotion aimed in the Clippers’ direction. There was a feeling of commiseration. And with the Lakers in the midst of being historically bad and unwatchable, it seemed like the tide had changed.
The town will always be in the hands of the Lakers because of their success and winning ways resulting in 16 titles. And even with aspirations of creating their own legacy, Doc Rivers and the crew understood that they had to crawl before they could walk.
Allowing the Houston Rockets to become just the ninth team in NBA history to erase a 3-1 deficit and win the series isn’t apart of the ascension to LA relevancy equation. This was certainly deemed a choking experience, one that won’t be forgotten about anytime soon.
It’s easy to lament the departure of Jordan … how could you not? He was robbed of a place on the All-Star team last year and many felt he should’ve been the Defensive Player of the Year. He was their ignition on the defensive end and really cleaned up many of their mistakes on the offensive side.
Although it looked like the Clippers were sometimes walking with two left feet in the playoffs and tripping over themselves, they weren’t that far off from competing in the Finals.
Losing Jordan isn’t tantamount to allowing the Lakers to leapfrog ahead of them yet again, but this is definitely a loss that could set them back to some degree. Quantifying that isn’t possible just yet, as a lot remains to be seen.
But while it does seem easy to jump to the conclusion that the Clippers are done because history tells us they haven’t been too fortunate, the brakes must be pumped.
The Clippers still have a very good chance at competing next season. People fail to realize that the NBA landscape and style of play has drastically changed. They have the roster to employ a small ball lineup and still be formidable.
Blake Griffin is capable of playing the 5, with Paul Pierce showing the last few years that he can play the 4. Before we jump ship and allow the departure of Jordan to rid the Clippers of any chances at contention, let’s hold the horses and see if Doc Rivers can work some West Coast magic.