Chris Paul’s free agency is of course the biggest off-season concern for the Clippers. If Paul re-signs with the Clippers, they can then remain an attractive club for other free agents. If not, they revert back to being the “little brother” in Los Angeles and will likely revert immediately back to being a lottery team.
This playoff run (if you can call it a run) has to e especially devastating considering they had a 2-0 lead in the series and were looking at an opportunity to distance themselves from their Staples Center roommates, the Lakers who were swept out of the first round by San Antonio.
Bu now, the Lakers and Clippers both went out in the same round. Yes the Clippers had a better season. Yes, they swept the Lakers in the season series. Yes, they won the Pacific Division. But in the NBA, it is all about the playoffs, and at the end, they did no better than the Lakers.
Now, Paul is a free agent along with the Lakers’ Dwight Howard. Those two have often talked about playing together. Now they have an opportunity to do just that and for the first time, they can decide on a team together. This has to worry Clippers fans everywhere. If history has proved anything, it is that in battles between the Lakers and Clippers, more often than not, the Lakers come out on top.
Hopefully, Blake Griffin will tip the scales in favor of the Clippers and at least they will hang on to Paul even if they do not get into the Howard bidding war. With Deandre Jordan getting better all the time, they may want to stay out of the Howard sweepstakes. But if Paul and Howard become a package deal, they may not have a choice.
They also have to replace some of the older guys like Grant Hill, Lamar Odom, Chauncey Billups, and Caron Butler. These guys were supposed to be the veteran presence to get the Clippers deep into the playoffs. But instead, most of the time they were injured and when they played, they only contributed in small increments. The Clippers had a very deep bench with Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes, But these older guys were creating more dead weight than they were helping. The Clippers need to get rid of theses guys and bring in some younger guys.
If the Clippers lose Paul to free agency, then they had better lock down Eric Bledsoe long term. He is good enough to be a starting point guard in the NBA. He is no Chris Paul, but he would make losing Paul a bit less of a disaster. Hopefully it won’t come to that.