OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Starting forward Caron Butler will miss the Los Angeles Clippers’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder because of a strained right shoulder.
Last season, the Los Angeles Clippers rose out of the ashes. First, management prudently traded for arguably the best point guard in the league in Chris Paul without giving up superstar Blake Griffin.
With a shortened offseason and the losses of Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler at crucial times during the season, Los Angeles actually performed pretty well.
In fact, the Clippers beat a very good Grizzlies team in seven games and advanced to the Conference Semifinals.
However, they ran into a better and more experienced Spurs team that easily dispatched the Clippers in four games.
Can Los Angeles put it together next season and win the Western Conference? It is definitely conceivable.
For the time being, let’s see how the Clippers match up with the Celtics.
Each component of each team is rated like a boxing match, to see whether the Heat or the Celtics have the advantage next season.
Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul: EVEN
Avery Bradley and Jamal Crawford: EVEN
Paul Pierce over Caron Butler: 10-9
Blake Griffin over Brandon Bass: 10-8
Kevin Garnett over DeAndre Jordan: 10-8
Celtics Bench over Clippers Bench: 10-9
Doc Rivers over Vinny Del Negro: 10-8
Even with the newest additions, the Celtics have a four-point advantage over the Los Angeles franchise.
Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul are two of the best point guards in the league. It is hard to justify as either being better than the other, especially when postseason play is factored into the equation.
With this being said, I would say that both All-Stars cancel each other out.
The same goes for Avery Bradley and Jamal Crawford, but for different reasons. Bradley is an outstanding on-ball defender, while Crawford is a scoring machine when he gets hot.
Both players have their deficiencies: Bradley’s being his jumpshot and Crawford’s being his mediocre defending. Their weaknesses allow for them to be graded as even.
When healthy, Caron Butler is a fringe-All-Star small forward. If you can remember, the Mavericks looked unstoppable with him in the lineup.
However, Butler is injury-prone and his jumpshot is worse than Paul Pierce’s. The advantage in this case goes to “The Truth.”
Here is the one position where the Clippers have a decided advantage over the Celtics. While Brandon Bass is a solid starter at the power forward, Blake Griffin’s athleticism would allow him to dominate the smaller Bass.
With Paul even throwing him well-placed lobs, Griffin is a matchup nightmare against anyone.
While DeAndre Jordan has shown that he is an athletic shotblocker, that is really all he can do at this point in his career.
Jordan’s offensive game and on-ball defending are leaps and bounds behind the older and more experienced Kevin Garnett. While KG has been considered “too skinny” to play the center, he is only 12 pounds lighter than the Clippers center.
Look for Garnett to dominate this matchup.
If Jeff Green is able to play like he did when he was on Oklahoma City, look for the Celtics to have the best bench in the league.
In terms of coaching, there really isn’t a case that you can make for Vinny Del Negro. At times, his inexperience shows when he mismanages players and their minutes. In addition, he fails to understand the transition offense and team defense.
Rivers on the other hand, is one of the top three coaches in the league, along with Gregg Popovich and Tom Thibodeau. Not only is he very good at developing a good game plan for four quarters, but also he is one of the better late-game strategists in the league.
With all of this being said, the Clippers will be a formidable opponent for the Celtics. The problem is that both teams have roadblocks in their way.
Los Angeles will need to navigate through a deep and loaded Western Conference, while Boston needs to slay their dragon in the Miami Heat.
The clash of styles is really what makes this potential series so intriguing. While the Clippers have young elite talent in Paul and Griffin, the Celtics have a battle-tested group that yearns for a third shot at a championship.
If these teams play in the Finals, I am definitely watching.
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It is a bit of a surprise, and somewhat disappointing, to see Grant Hill pick the Los Angeles Clippers over the Los Angeles Lakers. We don’t know the financial ramifications of the agreement that Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday , but whatever the impetus the soon-to-be 40-year old small forward will be adding his talents to a Clippers team that went into this offseason badly needing depth at the wing, and came away with Hill, Jamal Crawford, and Lamar Odom.
None of these acquisitions could pan out. Odom was one of the NBA’s worst rotation players last season, Hill will be 40 by opening night, and Crawford shot 38 percent last season in a career that has seen him nail just 40.8 percent of his shots from the floor. Each of these players’ significant gifts could meld into something special, assuming the bodies stay healthy and shots are on point, and if the Clipper coaching staff develops a way to mold all three (plus Caron Butler, and potentially Chauncey Billups when he returns from his Achilles injury) into a game-shifting outfit. Provided the proper coaching is there, of course. Winky-face .
For the second straight summer, the Los Angeles Clippers seem to be making the right moves to improve their team and stay relevant in the conversation for potential Western Conference champions.
There are two reasons why this is big news.
The first is that people are used to only talking about the Clippers in terms of lottery picks and being near the bottom of the standings. Second, the Clippers are making aggressive and necessary moves, all while not having a general manager on staff.
Last year’s GM and vice president of basketball operations, Neil Olshey, decided in early June to accept a position as the Portland Trailblazers general manager. Olshey is given credit for putting together last year’s team that brought Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler to the Clippers. The team finished 40-26 and made it to the second round of the playoffs.
So far this summer, the Clippers have been just as progressive as last, seeming to correctly sign quality players where there are immediate needs.
They have re-signed Billups, who is a former NBA Finals MVP and served last season as the confident backbone behind the team. They have also brought in the versatile Lamar Odom, who is one year removed from winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award and has two championship rings while playing for the Lakers.
They also signed Jamal Crawford, the sharp-shooting guard who was the 2010 NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Crawford is known for instant offense off the bench. The Clippers will be his sixth NBA team (Bulls, Knicks, Warriors, Hawks and Trailblazers) and although he has bounced around, he has undoubtedly left his mark at each stay.
He is already in the record books as being only the fourth player in NBA history (after Wilt Chamberlain, Bernard King and Moses Malone) to score 50 points or more with three different teams. While playing for the Hawks, Crawford set an NBA record by surpassing Hall of Fame guard Reggie Miller by completing his 24th four-point play.
He will definitely give the Clippers much-needed fire power from the perimeter. With the double teams that Blake Griffin will get and the pin-point passing of Chris Paul, Crawford will have many opportunities to light up the scoreboard.
There are still holes that need to be filled. The Clippers are losing players from last year’s playoff team. According to the Associated Press, they reportedly lost Nick Young to the 76ers (though deals can’t be officially signed until July 11), but filled his outside shooting with Jamal Crawford.
Young also served as a backup small forward to Caron Butler. Currently, Ryan Gomes fills that role off the bench but lacks the consistent outside shooting needed for that position.
Lamar Odom can play small forward and can shoot well enough from the outside. He also plays power forward because of his height and versatility. If he plays small forward, that leaves a void at backup for Blake Griffin. Kenyon Martin played well in that position last year, but he is currently unsigned. Re-signing Martin would be a smart move.
Since the 76ers amnestied Elton Brand in order to sign Nick Young, re-signing Brand, who played for the Clippers from 2001-2008 after being traded from the Bulls for Brian Skinner and the draft rights to Tyson Chandler, would also be a good move.
Brand was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft and shared the Rookie of the Year award with Houston Rockets guard Steve Francis.
The Clippers need more low-post scoring to help when Griffin is out of the game, an area they were lacking in last season. Brand could fill that void. Odom could also help in that area, but is so versatile he will be called on to help with ball handling and perimeter play. Brand and Odom played together on the Clippers from 1999-2003.
The Clippers should also take a look at Grant Hill.
Hill is an unrestricted free agent who played for the Phoenix Suns last season. Hill is also a very versatile player. At 6’7″ he can play small forward or shooting guard and would only add to the total basketball I.Q. of the team. In addition, Hill would make the bench one of the best in the league.
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After winning a championship in 2011, owner Mark Cuban and General Manager Donnie Nelson agreed to part ways with many key parts of their championship run, including Caron Butler, Corey Brewer and Tyson Chandler. They were hoping to clear space for this summer, where they believed they would have the opportunity to sign Brooklyn Nets star Deron Williams and Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard.
However, Howard has since waived his early-termination clause, delaying his free agency until 2013 (unless he extends his deal), and Williams has decided to remain with the Nets.
In response, they are now pursuing second-tier free agents in Nash and Lin.
Nash played for the Mavericks from 1998 to 2004, when he left in free agency to the Phoenix Suns and promptly won back-to-back MVP awards. He remains close to Cuban and Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki, and their great relationship could help in a future deal. Though Nash is on the back end of his career, he could provide a good boost to the team and revive their playoff hopes.
Nash is still chasing his first championship, and returning to Dallas could be one way to win it all.
Lin too was briefly a Maverick, playing on their summer league team in 2010, when he infamously bested No. 1 overall pick John Wall when they were pitted against each other. The Houston Rockets have reportedly offered a deal to Lin, and the Mavericks would have to offer more for Lin to consider the option of playing in Dallas.
The Mavericks may offer Lin a “poison pill” contract, giving him the mid-level exception (around $5 million) this and next season then increasing the salary to as much as $15 million in the third and fourth season of the deal. This would make it difficult for the Knicks to match the offer, as it would put them into the luxury tax during the third and fourth seasons, since they already have stars Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler each earning $15 million or more by then.
It is unlikely that Dallas would offer so much for Lin, but Cuban is known to spend to improve the Mavericks.
Yesterday, Jason Terry struck a deal with the Boston Celtics, who will give him $15 million over the next three years. Terry provided instant offense and veteran experience to this team during his eight seasons in Dallas.
In addition, free-agent point guard Jason Kidd, who was once believed to follow Williams to whichever team he chose (between the Nets and the Mavericks; Williams has since chosen to remain with the Nets), has narrowed his “decision down to the Knicks and Mavericks,” according to a source who told ESPN’s Ric Bucher.
Both Lin and Nash could be quality starting point guards for the Mavericks, but it is unlikely that they sign both.
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Whether you’re a regular dad with a “normal” life-style or a high-profile dad like Los Angeles Clippers All-Star forward, Caron Butler, Father’s Day is an important day to celebrate surrounded by family and loved ones.
Just days after agreeing to a new contract in principle, general manager Neil Olshey and the Los Angeles Clippers are now heading in opposite directions. According to CBS Sports’ Ken Berger, the two sides couldn’t seal the deal:
Clippers and GM Neil Olshey announce they have mutually agreed to part ways.
— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) June 5, 2012
That’s good news for Portland, but it leaves the Clippers in something of a lurch going into the offseason.
At a time when acquiring and retaining talent is crucial to keeping Chris Paul happy, an unstable front office may be the last thing this franchise needs. After all, it was Olshey who constructed a largely rebuilt roster with the likes of Paul, Caron Butler, Nick Young and Kenyon Martin.
The Clippers’ new regime will have to make decisions on free agents like Young, Martin and Reggie Evans.
And it goes without saying there will be pressure to improve a roster that struggled in the first round of the postseason and was eventually swept in the second. Chauncey Billups’ future is uncertain, and Los Angeles may need to find help from outside the organization.
That won’t be especially easy without a first-round pick in the 2012 NBA draft.
Chris Paul may indeed intend to remain with Clippers for the long haul, but there’s no guarantee that sentiment will endure if this club takes a step backward.
After all, this is the guy who tired of mediocrity in New Orleans. He just might feel the same way if the Clippers struggle to surround him with adequate talent.
Of course, there’s no reason to believe they’ll be unable to do so—at least not yet.
The pressure will be on this organization to find a starting shooting guard, and there’s no telling how much longer guys like Caron Butler and Kenyon Martin can play at their current levels (assuming Martin even sticks around).
As long as Blake Griffin is at Paul’s side, this team will boast a formidable core. The challenge will be surrounding that core with the right pieces, meaning someone competent will need to fill Olshey’s shoes fast.
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Poor Tim Duncan. He’s just trying to be a good San Antonio Spurs teammate, a real standup guy who helps his buddy Tiago Splitter when he’s beat on the baseline by Caron Butler, and he gets punched in the face by a broken left hand and dunked on nastily. Not hard to see why that leads to some bummed-out walking away the likes of which I haven’t seen since …
Don’t be sad, Tim. It’s not all bad. As a matter of fact, things are, like, really good!
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Caron Butler is the latest Clipper to win Flop of the Night.
HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders — details below:
It was a rough night of flopping for Manu Ginobili. First, he was unable to inspire the referees to tweet — though Twitter was noisy enough — when he flailed on a first quarter 3-point attempt (Video).
Mavs owner Mark Cuban, for years, had been willing to spend whatever amount necessary to build a championship-caliber team. In 2011, he finally had the pieces necessary to pull off the feat with veterans Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and by bringing in Tyson Chandler via trade the previous offseason.
Given Cuban’s track record, it was a bit of a surprise to see the Mavs convert from an annual major player in free agency to a team that was looking to shed salary, especially so soon after just winning an NBA title.
Chandler, who was a key component to the championship run, was allowed to exit to the New York Knicks via free agency with little to no resistance from the Mavs. Same with valuable contributors Caron Butler, J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson, who was an underrated piece to the Mavs’ puzzle.
In to replace them were Delonte West (decent), a shell of the player formerly known as Vince Carter, an unmotivated Lamar Odom and inserting Brendan Haywood into the starting lineup.
Last season, Chandler/Butler/Barea/Stevenson contributed an average of 9.9 points per game, their replacements were able to account for 7.8 PPG, but only on about 42 percent shooting compared to 48 percent by their predecessors (mostly from Chandler’s league-leading .654 from the field).
It seemed as if Cuban sacrificed the Mavs’ bid to repeat for the possibility to reload for the future. The Mavs shed a ton of salary and gained cap flexibility in preparation for the free agency class of 2012 that would potentially include All-Star point guard Deron Williams (a Dallas area native) and center Dwight Howard.
That plan appears to have hit a snag as Howard opted in for another season with the Magic and the market for Williams will include the New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers, all franchises who have a need for a top-notch point guard and, with some tweaks, will be able to match any offer Dallas can throw Williams’ way.
By average NBA standards, the Mavs had what could be considered a decent 2011-12 season with a 36-30 record and a No. 7 seed in the West. But as the reigning NBA champs, a first-round sweep at the hands of Oklahoma City after a mediocre regular season is a disappointment by any other measure.
If Cuban jeopardizing a Mavs repeat for the possibility of future greatness with a Williams/Howard/Nowitzki core works out in free agency, then all will be forgiven and the 2011-12 season will be an afterthought. But as it stands right now, Cuban’s gamble appears to be more of a dangerous risk than a sure thing.
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