(Note: I wrote this over two weeks ago, as my way of stockpiling these to post on slow news days. Anything written below was before any trade rumors for Chris Kaman sprouted. Not that it matters if you believe me, because I'm only as good as my word. And everyone knows that if you can't believe what you read on the internet, then it obviously can't be true)
Other than a few selected outbursts, I've managed to keep my hatred and bile of the Los Angeles Clippers to a minimum. I'm certainly proud of myself, even if no one else is (whomp whomp). Even as they sully my city with their incessant stink of mediocrity, I generally decide to stay away from all issues Clippers-related because a) even with their success, I know they will inevitably do something to screw it up or b) if they are bad, it is simply them acting to form.
Chris Kaman: 12.2 million
Mo Williams: 8.5 million
Blake Griffin: 5.7 million
Randy Foye: 4.25 million
Ryan Gomes: 4 million
Eric Gordon: 3.8 million
Jamario Moon: 3.19 million (team option)
Al-Farouq Aminu: 2.75 million
Eric Bledsoe: 1.6 million
Brian Cook: 1.26 million (player option)
Willie Warren: 788,000
Total: 44 million
Rasual Butler: 2.4 million
Craig Smith: 2.3 million
DeAndre Jordan: 854,000
A few other deadbeats: 1 million
Total: 6.6 million
1). Pay Eric Gordon and DeAndre Jordan
Eric Gordon is available for an extension. Pay the man. He's a great young guard, who plays hard in front of passion-less crowds and knows how to defend. He is destined to be the second-best player on this team. He reminds me of a less mouthy Jason Terry, in his prime. Not a bad comparison these days.
As I'll get into later, Chris Kaman is the not the guy going forward. DeAndre Jordan is a freak of nature - a 7 footer with size, speed and athleticism. With a little more patience, a little less pot and thus perhaps some increased intelligence, DeAndre could turn into a Tyson Chandler-like defensive difference-maker on the floor. He's young, so I'll give him a pass for doing at least 3 bone-headed plays in the last 3 minutes of every game, but that's going to have to stop in the coming years. I'd go at least 4 years and 30 million for this guy, going as high as 35 depending on if who gives him an offer sheet.
2). Decide if Al-Farouq Aminu is your man - regardless, sign someone until he's ready....like Andrei Kirilenko.
I said it, I meant it and screwwww you. Don't get me wrong, I like Aminu - the Luol Deng comparisons are uncanny and spot-on. If everything works out, and all their young guys develop (the brand new, never before used strategy for YOUR...2011 Los Angeles Clippers!), the line-up looks like this in a couple years:
PG: Eric Bledsoe
SG: Eric Gordon
SF: Al-Farouq Aminu
PF: Blake Griffin
C: DeAndre Jordan
Not bad, especially if Bledsoe, Aminu and Jordan turn into the quality defenders they could be. But at the present moment, you need to see if Aminu can work in this spot. If not...see no. 4.
But if no trades work out, I think that for this upcoming season, Andrei Kirilenko is the logical fit. He's been criticized pretty heavily the last few years in Utah, but mostly it was because he was getting paid like their first or second-best player, and played like theri fourth best player. What's not to like in this spot? Great defender, shot-blocker, rebounder who can make a couple shots. I love him here and would give him 3 years, 27 million for his services.
3). Draft Kyrie Irving with the number 1 pick and build your bench through the draft
Oh wait, they can't do that. Because they traded away the pick to the Cavs last year. So they could have "free agent flexibility". GM Neil Olshey is an idiot.
Also, as an addition to my recent post, most teams build their bench through shrewd free-agent additions and of course, the draft. Let's look at the last 3 championship squads, shall we?
2009-2010 Los Angeles Lakers
Key Bench Players: Lamar Odom (trade), Shannon Brown (trade), Sasha Vujacic (late first-round pick), Jordan Farmar (late first-round pick), Luke Walton (second-round pick)
2008 Boston Celtics
Key Bench Players: James Posey, PJ Brown, Eddie House, Glen Davis (second-round pick), Leon Powe (second-round pick), Tony Allen (first-round pick)
You build through the draft. You build CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS through the draft. While you can hardly fault the Clippers, as they obviously do not know what winning feels like, still...idiots.
4). Dangle Chris Kaman
I really like Chris Kaman. He's a big 7 footer with great hands and a jump shot. He can rebound pretty well and is more than just a large body on defense. There's nothing he doesn't do well. Tell me, is there any discernible difference in their games between Kaman and Pau's brother, other than the stages they have performed on? Not really. However, the biggest factor in Kaman's career has been his health. He's only played one season in the last four where he played in at least 70 games. The guy can't seem to stay on the floor, and at age 29, it's not like he's getting more durable.
Kaman is in a similar situation as Al Jefferson. While Kaman is a bit older, they are both players whose gigantic expiring (or near expiring in Jefferson's case) contracts are just as valuable as their skill levels at this point. Kaman still provides much value while he's on the floor, and his 12 million dollar expiring is something a lot of teams would love to have - thus, I would do the following:
Let everyone know he's available - at this point, if bloggers from such establishments as THE GREAT MAMBINO (illustrious as it may be) are commenting on how valuable your contract is, pretty much everyone in the league knows. Then, see what you've got. If you can get some first round picks or a valuable but somewhat overpaid player, along the lines of Andre Iguodala or Danny Granger for him, you do it. If not, he's a giant expiring contract and you can use that type of cap room to go after Deron Williams, Chris Paul or Dwight Howard next summer. It's a no lose proposition.
5). Just DON'T screw it up
This suggestion might be the toughest one to hammer out. Just don't screw this one up Clips. Blake Griffin is probably the most important player ever in the history of the franchise. And what's most awful about that statement is that I don't know if there's much debate about it. He is the first player EVER to join the Clippers that has a chance to become a genuine superstar, not just as an athlete, but as an entertainer. Griffin has the right to leave the team in 2 years, but most likely will sign a short extension to stay with the team for a bit longer (let's say 3 additional years to be certain). Thus, the Clippers have 4 seasons to build a contender.
What does this mean? It means not doing things like being stupid and giving up lottery picks. It means not signing bad free agent deals, like a 5 year deal to a guy with a career ridden with injuries and motivation problems AND THEN complaining about it when all these things come to pass. It means not being 6 million below the cap on a yearly basis, but instead spending money on personnel. It means spending money on a coach that knows how to win, not a guy who stumbled into two playoff series because he had Derrick Rose running the offense. It means hiring a staff and importing players that either don't know or care enough about the "Clippers curse" to be affected by it.
This all means that the Clippers don't have to hit a home run right now. They just have to not strike out with the bases loaded. Contact will do just fine. Just don't strike out. Easier said than done.