There have been countless articles this off-season written on the same subject: Baron Davis is the player that will drive the Clippers. I can’t disagree. When Baron is on, he is driving to the hoop for layups, hitting his midrange jumper, and finding open teammates through the tiniest margins.
The home opener was on Wednesday.
How did Baron do? 8 points, 3 assists, and 4 turnovers.
Craig Smith, also known as the Rhino, explains how he hurt his back
"I think it was due to the fact I just jumped into training camp so fast after my surgery," Smith said. "When the knee goes, different things go."
He expanded upon that theory.
"I’m using my whole body, being in defensive stances, doing a bunch of sprints in training camp," Smith said. "I kind of compare it to, if you’re a soldier and you just got out of surgery and you had to go to Afghanistan and fight in the war.
"And after Afghanistan you had to hop in the train and you got in a train crash."
The Carmelo Anthony trade rumors have been abundant. The Clippers have been interested, but last weekend a trade that included Carmelo going to the Nets with Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Andrei Kirilenko, Boris Diaw, and DJ Augustin involved seemed a done deal. Then it fell apart. Clippers fans felt indifferent, because no offer from Neil Olshey’s brain had been reported.
The Nets aren’t the only team that Denver said no to when Carmelo Anthony's name came up in trade talks. The Clippers recently offered Chris Kaman in a package and got the same response.
Carmelo Anthony for Chris Kaman? I’d do that in a heartbeat. In fact, make that an atombeat (Does that even make sense?).
Yes, Chris Kaman is the most offensively skilled Center in the Western Conference, but we are talking Carmelo Anthony. This guy has led his team to playoffs every year of his NBA existence. We would have a big whole at Center, but we could easily sign Erick Dampier, as we would be the best team with the most playing time available at Center
Here’s what the lineup would look like:
I could argue that this would be the best lineup Carmelo has ever played with. Yes, he’s had Allen Iverson weaving around with Marcus Camby blocking shots, and Billups walking up the court and knocking down threes. But that doesn’t compare to Baron’s superior court vision and magical assists, EJ’s catch and shoot threes and powerful drives to the hoop, Blake Griffin’s explosiveness down low, and Dampier’s defensive prowess.
If the mile high city reopens the trade floodgates, the Clippers upper management should be all over it.
Today was the Clippers annual white party event at Donald Sterling’s oceanside home. Strange, because I’ve never heard of it before. Anyways, Deandre Jordan made sure to take video of the obligatory rookie hazing.
Chris thinks taking a charge means shocking yourself
With all of this off-season talk, I wanted to touch on something I noticed during the regular season. Chris Kaman never takes a damn charge. Never. Well, he did take four, but when your starting center only takes four it’s safe to call it statistically irrelevant. Bobby Brown had four and Mardy Collins had five in their limited play. Heck, even Steve Novak took more charges than Kaman with six. Baron Davis lead the team with 19, and Craig Smith was a close second with 16. By the way, the league average is nine.
Out of all the starting centers in the league, Kaman is tied for second with the lowest amount. Andrew Bynum also had four and Dwight Howard had three. Considering Howard won Defensive Player of the Year, it’s safe to not blame him, because he can just block a shot. I don’t know what’s up with Bynum. Nick Collison, the backup for Oklahoma, led the league with 57.
Will Kaman learn to take a charge? Will he practice getting run over with his buddies in his Michigan gym? He plays with very large weapons, so I can’t be convinced he is scared of getting knocked down.
Do the Clippers have a better future than the Dodgers?
As the Dodgers season is winding down and the Clippers season is close to starting, a seemingly ridiculous question entered my mind. Do the Clippers, yes, the team with 2 winning seasons under their belt, have a better future than the Dodgers, who have heavily disappointed this season? Of course, one bad season alone would not warrant this question, but there are many factors to be explored here.
In April of 2010, the Dodgers started their season with much promise on the field but a harsh reality off the field, while the Clippers ended their season sourly on the court but encouraging in the offices. The impending divorce of owners Frank and Jamie McCourt hung a dark cloud over the best outfield in the majors when healthy, while the celebrated departure of Mike Dunleavy overshadowed a disappointing year from Eric Gordon and the injury of Blake Griffin. Center-fielder Matt Kemp, who was supposed to be embarking on a superstar season, was indeed spectacular until General Manager Ned Colletti singled him out on the radio for his poor defense. A Clippers GM has never singled out a player like this in recent memory, unless you count Dunleavy ripping on Elton Brand after he spurned Baron Davis and the Clippers during the 2008 free agency period. While Dunleavy revealed himself to be a competent GM, his controlling coaching style frustrated players and fans. Colletti has frustrated fans with the trading of star prospect Carlos Santana, the signing of Andruw Jones, Jason Schmidt, Juan Pierre, and his inability to trade for an ace - Dodger fans have watched on the sidelines as the Phillies have traded for Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt.
A big similarity between the two teams is the nucleus of young talent. While the Dodgers boast Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and James Loney, the Clippers flaunt Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon. All have their weaknesses, including Kemp’s defensive struggles and low batting average this year, Ethier inability to hit left handers, Loney’s lack of power needed at first base, Griffin’s injury, and Gordon’s lack of playmaking and rebounding ability. The Dodgers are hoping that newly signed prospect Zach Lee will lead stars Trayvon Robinson and Jerry Sands out of the minor league system, while the Clippers hope young draft picks Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Bledsoe, Willie Warren, and Marqus Blakely will start a Oklahoma City Thunder-like youth movement.
Today, when we look at these teams, we can’t help but look at the ownership situations. When the McCourt’s divorce was revealed during the 2009 NLCS against the Phillies, Dodgers fans became scared. The biggest issue is always money. Was this the reason we traded Carlos Santana for Casey Blake? Is this why we didn’t trade for Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee? Meanwhile, Donald Sterling seemed to turn a corner by eventually firing Dunleavy, but then reassured all of us by suing him for a fraudulent contract. One glaring difference is the fact that the Dodgers are more than $430 million in debt, while the Clippers continue to make money despite their continuous losing seasons.
In sports, every team needs a plan to succeed. For the past couple years, the Clippers have been planning for the future, while the Dodgers have been planning for the present. GM Dunleavy succeeded in trading the mammoth contract of Zach Randolph, loyal and fan favorite Marcus Camby, and one-dimensional Al Thornton for spare parts and cap-space, all for the summer of Lebron James, (perhaps now the summer of Carmelo Anthony) and for the looming CBA lockout. The Dodgers have ignored the future and looked only at the present. Indeed, the trade for Manny Ramirez was brilliant, but one overlooked factor was the deferred money he was promised in his contract. Deferred money has been a strange trend for the Blue Crew. Hilariously, the Dodgers will now be paying the current Chicago White Sox outfield (Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones, and Manny) for years to come. They are still paying for former Dodgers Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Schmidt, Randy Wolf, and Orlando Hudson. Besides deferring all this money to veterans, the Dodgers have disappointed at the trade deadline since signing Manny. They have seen aces get traded to an NL rival, while they have traded their young talent, including James McDonald and Blake DeWitt for a combination of Scott Podsednik (Juan Pierre-beta), Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot, and Octavio Dotel. I admit the Ronny Belliard trade was a success, but the benching of Orlando Hudson in his favor during the playoffs leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
There are many similarities between past and present Clippers and Dodgers players. Zach Randolph and Andruw Jones were both brought in to help the offense. While Randolph contributed his expected 20 points and 10 rebounds, he couldn’t shed any pounds and his defense showed. Andruw Jones showed up to spring training camp overweight and batted .158 with 3 home runs during the season. In their next seasons, both with different teams, Randolph would be named to his first all-star team while Jones would bat .212, but with a much improved 17 home runs. Another similarity is what Sam Cassell and Manny Ramirez brought to their teams. Both brought a different type of leadership - Cassell a voice on the court and a jumper in crunch time type of leadership, and Manny a slugging doubles and home runs type of leadership. Each led their teams to the playoffs, winning in the first round but unable to get their teammates help to win a second series. Unfortunately, both would leave in similar fashion - toward the end of the season once their team had fallen out of contention to be penciled into the lineup of a contender.
Every summer, a Clippers fan expects big things the coming season, with new players and an optimistic formula. Most often than not we are disappointed because of a set of injuries and organizational disfunction. For a Dodgers fan, the playoffs are looming, and we hope we have enough firepower to make it to the World Series. There are certainly questions for the next Clippers season, such as worries about Blake Griffin’s health, Eric Gordon’s improvement, and whether or not Chris Kaman is really a 19 and 10 guy. However, there are much more uncertainties for the Dodgers. What is the ownership situation going to be like? Will Matt Kemp bounce back? Is Clayton Kershaw our ace? Who is our leader?
This summer has brought much hope to Clippers fans, as Eric Gordon has been the second leading scorer for Team USA in the World Basketball Championships, and Blake Griffin has been working out at 100%. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have traded away their young talent for a shot at the far distant playoffs and the McCourt divorce trials have begun. A lot hinges on the future. Will Joe Torre stay or leave? Will Vinny Del Negro silence his critics? There is a lot to think about, but I’ve been thinking a lot more positively about the Clippers these days.
In these scrimmages, guards play a huge role in the game because there is not much structure - just like summer league.
For Chauncey Billups and Stephen Curry, their games were a tale of two halves. Chauncey dominated Curry in the post in the first half, while Curry threw the ball away and missed some easy threes badly. In the second half, Billups had three horrible turnovers, while Curry hit a bunch of threes - one in the face of Eric Gordon - to finish with 14 points. They even ran a play for him for a buzzer beating shot, but he missed.
Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose were unspectacular. Neither wowed nor played sloppy.
Westbrook was very aggressive, driving to the hoop and drawing fouls. He did attempt a couple of jumpers early on, but missed them both. He even got a rebound over Tyson Chandler, which was very impressive.
Our man Eric Gordon didn’t have a big impact today. He was the last guard off the bench in both halves. He had two nice steals, one which lead to a fastbreak layup for Billups. The first time he touched the ball, he drove through 3 defenders and laid the ball in for an And 1. He played good defense on Rondo in the first half, picking him up at the halfcourt line. In the 2nd he started guarding Curry, and couldn’t stop him from scoring. He played very little in the second half, with coach Nate McMillan opting for Westbrook over EJ in crunchtime.
Overall, EJ was the least used guard in the game, which is concerning. I would have liked to see him play a lot more. They rarely went to him on offense, but he did well defensively. Center Javale McGee looked lost out there, so maybe they will cut him, which could save a spot for EJ. We’ll see.
Sidenote - When the cameras cut to Jerry Colangelo, the director of USA basketball, he was looking for candy in a food tray.
After making the first cut for team USA, young Clipper Eric Gordon (EJ) has been practicing with the team in New York, as he and the rest of the 15 players compete before the field is whittled down to 12. Yesterday, a report of the most recent practice came out:
Reporters were allowed to watch the final 20 minutes of practice, and we can tell you from that small sampling that Stephen Curry looked a whole lot better than Eric Gordon, who he is presumed to be battling with for a spot on the final 12-man roster. Gordon briefly ran the point and had his pocket picked by UConn point guard Kemba Walker, leading to a breakaway, and he nearly botched a simple pick-and-pop pass to Kevin Durant on the following possession. Curry, meanwhile, stroked one 3-pointer and had a terrific 60-foot underhanded hook pass to Andre Iguodala ahead of the field for a breakaway dunk.
Gordon’s natural position is shooting guard, so it is no wonder that he struggles running the point. With the Clippers, he rarely runs the point, in part because of his lack of playmaking abilities.
Eric Gordon, Chauncey Billups, Stephen Curry, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook
If you haven’t noticed already, Eric Gordon is the only shooting guard of the bunch. He is also a much better defender than Billups, Curry, and Rose. You’d think he has an advantage being the only SG.
Billups is a lock because he is a veteran, as is Rose because he is the future starting point guard of the bunch. Rondo has championship level playing experience, so I would keep him. With Gordon, Curry, and Westbrook left, I would cut Westbrook. Rondo and Rose are terrible 3 point shooters, as is Westbrook, so having three sharpshooters in Billups, Gordon, and Curry would be very deadly.
All in all, you’d think it would be obvious for the EJ to be selected, as he is the only shooting guard outside of Andre Iguodala, who will probably slide over to small forward because of his height. However, conventionalism is not a strong trait of international basketball for team USA (Lebron James at power forward, only taking 1 center to Beijing), so who knows.