If LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has his way, the organization’s rebuild will mimic that of the New York Yankees in baseball: quick, competitive, and on-the-fly.
At an event in Los Angeles, Ballmer vowed that the Clippers would not employ tanking like so many have before them–and continue to do–in order to get better draft picks. Ballmer pointed to the Philadelphia 76ers, in particular, for their long, drawn-out rebuild that ultimately led to the team netting stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
“That ain’t us. Nuh-uh, no way,” Ballmer said at the event, which brought some 2,500 Clippers fans. “People can do it their way. We’re going to be good our way. We’re not going to show up and suck for a year, two years. I think we’ve got higher expectations on us than the long, hard five, six years of absolute crap like the 76ers put in. How could we look you guys in the eye if we did that to you?”
If results are any indication, Ballmer is telling the truth. The Clippers put forth a full-court press to make the playoffs last season, finishing 42-40 in a competitive Western Conference. They have added youngsters and veterans alike, all while maintaining enough cap flexibility to sign two max free agents in the summer of 2019.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson highlight the Clippers’ young nucleus. Both players were selected in the 2018 lottery, with the former serving as arguably the most versatile point guard in the country. The latter, meanwhile, was one of college basketball’s best scorers.
If the Clippers can stay healthy, which they admittedly weren’t in 2017-18, they should make a run at the playoffs. Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris are two key veterans that can help win games, and a healthy backcourt consisting of Milos Teodosic, Patrick Beverley, Gilgeous-Alexander, Lou Williams, and Avery Bradley should give head coach Doc Rivers plenty of flexibility out on the perimeter.
At the very least, Clippers fans can expect another scrappy group in 2018-19.
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