Every team believes they have unfinished business when they go down in a playoff sweep. It’s too sudden. Losing four in a row wraps the season up quite nicely, and everyone is left searching for excuses and answers. When you have the game’s most explosive power forward and one of the best pure point guards in the last 20 years, no one is expecting the broom… even if you are the Clippers, even if you had injuries piled higher than Barkley‘s dinner plate and even if your coach is Vinny Del Negro.
But here are the Clippers, suddenly thrust towards a cloudy future because the Spurs were just too good. This summer, the future in Hollywood for everyone from Chris Paul to Eric Bledsoe is up in the air. For now, L.A. is confident they can keep their core together.
Griffin is eligible for a five-year extension this summer, and short of an apocalypse or Jason Smith finding his knee with a sledgehammer, he will get it. Paul also told them he intends to stay for the long haul, reported ESPN.com.
“I feel those things are going to get done,” Clippers president Andy Roeser told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “The important thing is that we have to do other things to improve the team. But I believe we’ll do those things and ultimately I believe those two players (Griffin and Paul) are going to play out their careers here.”
Through a season-ending Achilles’ tendon injury (where have we heard THAT one before?), Chauncey Billups morphed into the closest thing the Clippers had to an off-court leader, and helped save VDN from himself more often than not. Even at 36 years old, and coming off a major knee issue, he intends to come back to continue shooting 25-foot pull-ups threes next season. But how much can you expect out of an “old” man playing the two guard at 6-3, even as Billups told the Los Angeles Times L.A.’s chances would’ve been “much greater” had he been out there to counter some of San Antonio’s relentless outside sniping? This unfinished business is bringing him back as well.
Mo Williams, the Sixth Man who somehow managed to shoot 56 percent in his last five playoff games and yet still only average 9.4 points, will be back. He said as much this weekend: he will not opt-out of the final year of his contract. Smart move, considering he’s due to make $8.5 million and will be turning 30 before the end of the calendar year. Let Donald Sterling pony up. The owner has apparently decided to spend money on players. Shocking.
There’s also Bledsoe, a 22-year-old athletic missile who scored a combined 40 points in the first and last games of the second round. With both Billups and Williams planning to come back, that leaves little room for PT. Bledsoe is probably the best defensive guard they have. If anyone played up their trade value more during this postseason than Bledsoe, please let me know. He’ll have more suitors than Lucrezia Borgia.
So the Clippers have questions this summer, more than perhaps anyone else in the league. But for once, they feel they’ll have answers.
What do the Clippers need to do this summer?
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