Pipe dreams are just that until they aren’t
It is possible that one year from now the Clipper starting team could have two of the five best players in basketball on it. Hopefully at least one.
The Clippers clobbered the trade deadline last night when they unloaded their best player for the second year in a row in an attempt to load up the team with two of AD / Leonard / Butler / Durant / Irving this coming summer. It was an even stranger trade for me given that I had just finished watching the Clippers beat the Hornets on a game-winning shot by Tobias Harris via the magic of DVR only to find out minutes later that he had just been traded.
The Clippers have the flexibility to either sign two superstars, sign one and trade for one, trade for two or roll over their cap space to 2020 or 2021, as they will not spend just to spend during the summer of 2019. They understand how attractive the Los Angeles market is to available players — roughly three-quarters of the league is in L.A. for some portion of the offseason — and want to maximize their advantage.
But really, this is about the free agency class of 2019: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler (and, to a lesser extent, Klay Thompson and Kemba Walker). The Clippers would not go all out like this, dumping a player whom they really like, and who would have been a reasonably plan B or C this summer, unless they had very high confidence in getting not one, but two superstars this summer.
Is this all a pipedream?
Clippers are very much part of all the good conversations these days. https://t.co/gQlPmRT7lv
— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) February 6, 2019
Mirjam was referring to this tweet by Woj
Adrian Wojnarowski: “And I think the Clippers, too, if [Kevin Durant] wants to stay on the West Coast. I don’t think he’ll go to the Lakers with LeBron [James].” pic.twitter.com/8EGbEowKmC
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) February 6, 2019
While Durant has not said he would like to play for the Clippers, Anthony Davis, Leanord, and Butler are three superstars who while forcing their teams to trade them have included the Clippers as an ok landing spot, which is significant when they list very few teams.
Laker fans who continue to make fun of the Clippers (looking at you COOP) will laugh this off as a pipedream. They might be right, but if you remove the Clipper history and look at the now, you can see why these players might prefer the Clippers as their destination when they say they want to play in Los Angeles.
A prime time Lebron James was able to put together Wade and Bosh to make it happen in Miami but this Lebron is a very old basketball player. For the first time in his career, he had an injury and it took quite a while before he was back on the court. Going forward you can only expect more of the same. As much as an Iron Man he has been, you only have to remember that Kobe Bryant was also that Iron Man, until he wasn’t. The Lakers management doesn’t have Jerry West, the Clippers do. The Clippers also have the richest owner in all of sports. In time they will have their own arena, right where the Lakers used to win their Championships. Who would you trust to build the right team around you for a Championship run when one of the Max players is going to be 35 next year and 36 the year after that? The team that has Ballmer and Jerry West who has already built multiple championships or the Buss family and Magic Johnson?
In the best case scenario for me, the Lakers get AD and team him up with Lebron. How they build the team around those two should be interesting. The Clippers sign Leonard, Durant, keep Shai and go from there.
Yeah, it is probably a pipe dream but for the first time it is a pipe dream that passes the sniff test, and that is heady stuff.
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