LA Clippers News and Updates- June 2020

LA Clippers News & Updates

Doc Prescribes Patience

If there is one word that describes the Clippers’ key to success this season it is – patience. The Clippers have been careful about rushing their superstars into the fire of the NBA season as evidenced by their 11-game delay in bringing newly acquired Paul George into the fray after rehabbing from shoulder surgery. But when he did return on November 14th it was the Paul George Show who punctuated his Clippers debut with 33 points, albeit, in a losing effort against the Pelicans.

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It wasn’t until Christmas that the Clippers had a healthy roster and even then, Doc Rivers was monitoring Kawhi Leonard’s workload. After adding Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson to provide depth to the roster, the COVID-19 pandemic struck just as LA was hitting its stride in winning seven of its last eight. Now the Clips have to rekindle the same team chemistry that was evident at the time of the hiatus.

The unexpected respite should yield positive results for Los Angeles as it will allow superstars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard (knee) to be at their All-Star best when play resumes. However, the health of his players is paramount to Doc Rivers and it will be interesting to see how he manages the minutes for his big guns early in the tournament.

But if any team in the league can trust its bench, it is the LA Clippers, whose backups averaged a league-leading 51.5 points per game this season. Ironically, they are the only the second team in NBA history whose bench has averaged at least 50 points per game. The other, you might ask? The 2018-2019 LA Clippers that averaged 53.2 PPG.

Win the Wait

It appeared all of the wheels were in motion for the NBA to return to action with Walt Disney World being ground zero for all of the action. Even the bookmakers were dealing lines on winning the NBA title with the Clippers odds set today at +300 trailing only the Lakers at +225 Head coach Doc Rivers took a philosophical approach when he stated, “We have this saying right now with our team called ‘Win the Wait,’ and so we’re trying to win the wait meaning we believe there’s going to be a season, we really do. And if there is, we cannot let this disruption be the reason that we don’t win. We want to be fully ready if and when we get the start button.”

However, there has been pushback recently by the players about returning to action, led by the Net’s Kyrie Irving, “I don’t support going into Orlando,” Irving reportedly told the players. “I’m not with the systematic racism and the bulls. Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.”

Irving’s sentiments have caught fire and roughly 80 players are in his camp and believe that going back to work would take the focus off of a much more important societal issue. The Lakers’ Dwight Howard echoed Irving’s sentiments and stated, “Sure it might not distract us the players, but we have resources at hand majority of our community don’t have. And the smallest distraction for them can start a trickle-down effect that may never stop. Especially with the way the climate is now. I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship, that’s just too beautiful to pass up. What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families?”

And while the players are taking what many would agree is a noble stand to focus on social justice for all, their reluctance to play this year could have reverberating and deleterious financial effects next year and beyond. One anonymous Western Conference coach explained, “I think there’s going to be a renegotiation of the CBA, there will be a lockout [in 2020-21] and you’re going to see something similar to what’s happening right now in baseball. You’ll see a very different NBA going forward if, in fact, we don’t play.”

The 2020-2021 season is slated to begin on December 1st with only a seven-week offseason. If the players do not return it will cost the league, and the players, mightily by dropping basketball-related revenue by $1 billion which could lead to a salary cap reduction of $25 to $30 million for next season. The clock is ticking and if the players don’t agree to terms quickly, the NBA could be done for the year.