Clippers’ Misfortunes Continue

After their thrilling game 7 victory on the road over the San Antonio Spurs, I believed this might be the season the Los Angeles Clippers were going to make it to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. However, someone forgot to share those plans with the Houston Rockets.

The Clippers blew a three game series lead and lost on the road yesterday to the Rockets 113-100. Somehow, the Clippers let a 3-1 series slip away after blowing out the Rockets by 16, 25 and 33 points and holding a 19-point lead late in Game 6 at home to become only the ninth team in NBA history to blow a 3-1 series lead.clippers

There is no doubt this loss hurts like no other and will sting for much of the offseason. Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul played in his 65th postseason game without reaching the conference finals. Thurl Bailey with 69 and Kiki Vandeweghe with 68 are the only players in NBA history to play in more postseason games without getting past the second round.

Despite having their own big three of Paul, power forward Blake Griffin, and center DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers need to add more around them. Their first priority must be to resign Jordan who is an unrestricted free agent. The Clippers cannot afford to lose his presence down low and on the defensive end.

Coach Doc Rivers has already said taking care of DeAndre Jordan is the first priority in the offseason. Look for the Clippers to offer Jordan a five-year max contract, but will he take it? Jordan is the third option in LA. Maybe he signs a two-year deal elsewhere with a player option for the second year. If he were to opt out then resign with that team for five more years, Jordan could make in excess of 160 million over the five years. At this point, I would say it is 50/50 whether Jordan returns after the playoff frustrations of the past three years since Paul joined the team and expectations increased immensely.

I am not sure how much the Clippers can improve. They lack depth and need to improve at the small forward and in their team defense which ranked 15th in the league. However, they are without a first or second round pick in next month’s draft and has very little wiggle room under the cap to go after a premier free agent. Current players on the roster like shooting guard JJ Reddick, small forward Matt Barnes and shooting guard/small forward Jamal Crawford must be more consistent for the Clippers to get over the hump and finally make it to the Western Conference finals next season.

One key addition that will help next season will be shooting guard Austin Rivers who is the son of Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers. He was traded twice in a matter of days at this year’s trade deadline and really came on strong in the playoffs. The Clippers will definitely enjoy having his outside shooting available all season next year.

It looks like it will be up to Doc Rivers to convince Jordan his best opportunity for a championship is to remain in LA. If not, the Clippers will take a step back next season.

And that’s as I see it!

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