In one of my debut articles for CelticsLife prior to last season, I wrote that Jerry West, after building Championship teams with the Lakers and Warriors, may be about to do the same with the Clippers. I took some heat from our readers on that one, but I may be vindicated. Now, more than a year later, and after sending three stars off to other destinations, Jerry's team seems well-poised to create some noise in the League.
The Clippers beat the Steph Curry-less Warriors last night in overtime and now sit in fourth place in the Western Division with an 8-5 record. They are in front of the Celtics at 7-6, the Lakers at 7-6 (11th in the West) and the Rockets at 5-7 (12th in the West). Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are long gone, and the Clips have no legitimate stars on the roster.
So the Clippers lost or traded CP3, Redick, Blake, and DJ in 13 months, did not land a replacement level star, the Lakers got LeBron James and somehow the Clippers are still better?
The Clippers won the game last night with the likes of Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Marcin Gortat, Patrick Beverly, rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. As I wrote a year ago, Jerry West doesn't go for blatant tanking. He rebuilds on the fly. He doesn't punt. His team has salary space to sign two stars this summer, and Jerry's presence and the warm sun of Los Angeles should both be attractive to free agents.
Owner Steve Ballmer may be an overly-excitable fan, but even Bill Russell enjoyed his antics. The list of potential big-name free agents in 2019 is long. Kevin Durant, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kristaps Porzingas, DeMarcus Cousins, Kemba Walker, Miles Turner, Al Horford and Terry Rozier are just some of them. Look for Ballmer, West and Doc Rivers to get active prior to this summer.
Jerry brought Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal to the Lakers, and then latched on to Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant for the Warriors. In two years or so, it may come down to Brad versus Doc and Danny versus The Logo. Don't discount it!
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