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Should the Clippers blow it up?

By: Chris Jeter

After another disappointing end in the playoffs for the Los Angeles Clippers, head coach and President of Basketball Operations Doc Rivers essentially campaigned for his current core of players to come back one more time for a championship run.

There is no question that the Clippers franchise is in a much better place than they were just five seasons ago when they were owned by odious, racist slumlord Donald Sterling and made only four playoff appearances since they move from Buffalo in 1997. After they finished 32-50 in 2010-11, the Clippers traded for passing wizard Chris Paul (thanks to then-NBA commissioners David Stern nixing a deal that would have sent him to the Lakers). Their fortunes changed immediately.

Also with No. 1 overall draft pick Blake griffin and rim-protector DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers went from background acts to headliners, snagging the spotlight away from the aging and struggling Lakers. However, like many star-studded teams, winning 50 games a season was not enough. With that level of talent playing in the second biggest media market in the country, most fans expected a plethora of titles or at least appearances in the Western Conference Finals. For all their regular season success, this team has still yet to advance past the conference semifinals. With yet another early exit at the hands of the Utah Jazz, it might be time for the Clippers to shake things up.

The Clippers had the oldest roster in the league last season with an average age of 30. With Paul Pierce announcing his retirement, the changes have already begun. Both Paul and Griffin have early termination options on their contracts this summer. Sharpshooter JJ Redick hits unrestricted free agency as well. The team could look very different next year.

If a championship is a goal, that might be the best. As currently constructed, beating the top teams in the Western Conference would have been tough. They just don’t have enough perimeter shooting to beat the Warriors or Rockets. They don’t have the depth that the Spurs possess.

If Paul and Griffin both leave the City of Angels the question will be who replaces them? Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are probably not leaving the Bay Area anytime soon. Kyle Lowry likely stays north of the border with backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan. Paul Millsap would be a clear downgrade compared to Griffin. Outside those names, no other free agents stand out as the missing piece to the Clippers nabbing the Larry O’Brien Trophy anytime soon. Gordon Hayward might be that piece if Paul or Griffin stick around, but not as a number one option for a team that wants to play deep into June.

The Clippers appear to be stuck in this sort of NBA purgatory. They are good enough to win the more rugged conference but are not quite good enough to truly compete with the class of the West. Should they blow it up and risk reverting back to the laughing stock of the NBA (Jordan and Doc’s son Austin are their two best players currently under guaranteed contracts for next season)? Do they bring everyone back again, win 60-percent of their games and play until late April again? No matter what they decide, this should be the most interesting offseason for the Clippers in quite some time.

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Chris Jeter

Staff Writer
Chris has always had a love for sports. He inherited his affinity for them from his New York Yankees-loving dad and grandad, even if they gave his beloved Orioles a hard time during their 14 years of futility. Chis grew up an Orioles, Ravens, Maryland Terrapins and Chicago Bulls fan. His love for the local teams can from his mother. His love for the Bulls came from Michael Jordan and his favorite color being red. As a youth, Chris played basketball, baseball, and soccer with varying degrees of success. He always wanted to play for a team in one of those sports when he grew up, but once he quickly realized that, that was probably not going to happen, Chris wanted to be a part of sports in some other way. Eventually, Chris settled on becoming a sports writer. A year after transferring to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he took Media & Communications Studies with a Journalism Minor, he began writing for The Retriever, initially as a contributing writer and eventually as a staff writer for sports. After several months writing for The Retriever, he began writing for So Much Sports, covering various college sports and as a columnist, writing about a variety of national sports topics.

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