It looks like Jerry West is packing his bags once again.
It has been more than 40 years since Jerry West has played in a NBA game, but his legacy lives on. West played his entire 14-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers which included him helping the franchise win an NBA Championship in 1972. West was also a 14-time NBA All-Star and he’s gone on to literally become the logo of the league. And as good as West was on the court, he has been even better as an executive. West was the Lakers general manager from 1982-2001, and during that time the franchise won five NBA Titles. West would go on to become the general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002 as helped the franchise make their first three trips to the postseason. West would remain with the Grizzlies until 2007 before he stepped down, but it wouldn’t take him that long to resurface on the basketball scene.
In 2011, West became a member of the Golden State Warriors executive board not long after Joe Lacob and Peter Guber purchased the team. And since then the Warriors have gone on to be one of the better teams in the NBA as they won a championship in 2015, while setting a single-season for wins last season with 73.
West turned 79-years of age earlier month, but he doesn’t appear to be slowing down. And as West still possesses one of the sharpest minds in basketball he is still a very wanted man.
West’s contract with the Warriors is set to expire at the end of this season and he has reportedly drawn interest from the Los Angeles Clippers for his services. West is a legend in the City of Los Angeles after what he did with the Lakers, and now the Clippers want in on the fun.
The Clippers have made the playoffs in each of the last six years, but they have never been able to make it past the second round. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has owned the team now for three years and is a person who is committed to winning. Ballmer has the ability to sell water to a whale if need be, but could he persuade West to leave Oakland for Hollywood?
Whereas the Clippers have been a competitive team, they are currently at the crossroads. The Clippers have a pair of perennial All-Stars in point guard Chris Paul and power forward Blake Griffin, along with shooting guard J.J. Redick who are all set to become unrestricted free agents this summer. And the Clippers ability to maintain all three players could come down to whether or not that Ballmer can get West to come on board. But as much as Ballmer may want West to return to Los Angeles, don’t expect Lacob and Guber to go down without a fight.
West might be an executive board member by title for the Warriors, but he has a keen eye for finding talent. The Warriors core trio of point guard Steph Curry, shooting guard Klay Thompson, and power forward Draymond Green who helped the franchise win an NBA Championship in 2015 were not top-five selections in the NBA Draft, and in the case of Green, he was a second-round pick. West joined the Warriors after Curry was drafted by the team, but he did have a hand in the selection of Thompson and Green who have gone on to be two of the better players at their respective positions. And the Warriors ability to woo small forward Kevin Durant last summer in free agency last summer cannot be omitted either.
The Lakers only missed the playoffs once during West’s tenure, while he built the Grizzlies into a contender. And after helping to make the Warriors into the modern day version of the “Showtime” Lakers, Lacob and Guber cannot afford to simply allow West to leave town, and I see the duo leaving no stone unturned in order to keep him happy in order for him to remain in Northern California.
So now let the bidding war begin as West who is already wealthy is set to become wealthier as there will be some billionaires who are ready to open up the vault for his services. West has walked away from a winning situation before when he left the Lakers which makes joining the Clippers not that far-fetched. However with what the Warriors have accomplished along with what they still could do, it would be difficult to see West walk away from that in order to team up with Ballmer.
There is no denying that the Los Angeles Clippers are one of the better teams in the NBA during this era. Each of the last six NBA seasons have seen the Clippers make the NBA Playoffs, and in the postseason they’ve been able to secure series wins over the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs who have won two of the last three NBA Titles. However the Clippers were unable to keep the momentum going after those series wins over the Warriors and Spurs as they have never advanced to the conference finals in their franchise history. Last season the Clippers won 53 games, but by the time that the playoffs rolled around, they had lost the services of point guard Chris Paul and Blake Griffin which made them easy pickings for the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. This season the Clippers went 51-31 in the regular season, and there was some optimism for them heading into the playoffs. But like any Hollywood production, that optimism for the Clippers has now faded to black.
The Clippers would drop their playoff opener at home to the Utah Jazz who were playing without the services of center Rudy Goubert. The Clippers would bounce back to win Games 2 and 3 as they appeared ready to take control of the series. However things changed during Game 3 when Griffin suffered what initially appeared to be an insignificant toe injury. But that was not the case as that toe injury will put Griffin on the sidelines for the remainder of the postseason, and with that any legitimate chances of Los Angeles winning the NBA Championship are now out of the window.
This serves as another blow to a Clippers team that continues to be good, but not great which has prevented them from winning an NBA Championship. The Clippers have the sizzle of having a billionaire owner in Steve Ballmer, a head coach in Doc Rivers who led the Boston Celtics to the NBA Championship in 2008, an All-Star point guard in Paul, and Griffin who along with center DeAndre Jordan helped to form “Lob City”. However dunks won’t win in the playoffs as the Clippers always seem to fall short when the chips are pushed to the middle of the table. And with the Clippers chances of winning a title here in 2017 diced, it’s time for them to look ahead to next season as far as what they’ll need to get over that hump.
Aside from staying healthy, the Clippers need a proven go-to-guy in the clutch as neither Paul, Griffin, or Jordan are that guy. And as the Clippers will need to improve for next season, the time could be right for Ballmer and Rivers to pick up the phone and make a call to the 212 area code.
On the other side of the United States, the New York Knicks continue to be a calamity of errors as their owner James Dolan, team president Phil Jackson, head coach Jeff Hornacek, and star player in small forward Carmelo Anthony are not on the same page. The Knicks just wrapped up their fourth consecutive losing season which was highlighted by Jackson attempting the old “bait and switch” in order to get Anthony to leave, along with Dolan having his security team throw team legend Charles Oakley out of Madison Square Garden as if he were Jazz on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And with Anthony and Jackson not on the same page, along with the fact he is now going through a separation from his wife La La, the time is now for him to get out of the Big Apple as the Clippers could be an attractive destination for him.
In 14 NBA seasons Anthony has averaged 24.8 points per game and he’ll be remembered as one of the best scorers of this era. But the fact that Anthony has been unable to win an NBA Championship is something that still lingers over him.
The Clippers attempted to acquire Anthony this past season as along with the Cleveland Cavaliers, they were the only team that he was willing to waive his no-trade clause for. But the deal fell through as the Clippers needed at least one more team to come into the fold in order for the deal to work. However now as the Clippers and Knicks don’t have to worry themselves with the shackles of the trade deadline, the time is now for them to hammer this out.
Jackson doesn’t want Anthony and the 10-time All-Star isn’t too fond of the public criticism that has been directed towards him by the Knicks team president, and if these two continue to work together it is only going to make New York’s so called rebuild that much longer to come to fruition.
But if Anthony were to go the Clippers, he would finally be a part of an organization that wants him. There would still be pressure on Anthony as he’d be in Los Angeles, but he would playing alongside his good friend in Paul, while he’d be in one of the best front courts in the NBA. Anthony wouldn’t have to worry about carrying the team as the Clippers do possess balance as the only thing that they’ve been missing is a proven scorer who can consistently create his own shot.
Getting to the playoffs for six consecutive years is cool for the Clippers as it is something that has never been done in their franchise history. But with an owner like Ballmer who put down $2 billion to purchase the Clippers in 2014, and a head coach in Rivers who knows what it takes to win a championship, it’s time for Los Angeles to stop relying on their core of Griffin, Paul and Jordan to get it done. Making the playoffs is one thing, but for the Clippers to be remembered and respected, it is high time for them to take that next step.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is typically calm and calculated. But Cuban cannot be that way when someone pulls a fast one on him. When free agency began in the NBA on July 1, Cuban made acquiring center DeAndre Jordan his top priority. In seven seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, Jordan has morphed into one of the NBA’s top rebounders and defenders. On July 3, Jordan and the Mavericks “verbally” agreed on a four-year deal that would be worth $80 million. Per NBA rules, new contracts could not be signed and made official until July 9 which paved the way for mass hysteria. Jordan began to have second thoughts about joining the Mavericks and yesterday a Clippers contingent that was led by team owner Steve Ballmer flew to Houston and went to Jordan’s home to meet with him. The Clippers vowed that they would not leave Houston without Jordan signing a contract to return to the team. Jordan did agree to re-join the Clippers and in the process spurned Cuban and the Mavericks.
Heading into this off-season the Mavericks had a clear game plan in order to once again become one of the NBA’s elite teams. Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki took less money on his current contract in order to allow the team cap flexibility to sign quality players such as Jordan. This off-season the Mavericks had their sights set on signing either Jordan or power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge did meet with the Mavs, but he would ultimately decide on joining the San Antonio Spurs. The Mavericks then used a full-court press on Jordan and they appeared to have their man in Jordan.
Jordan is now back with the Clippers as a result of a loophole in the NBA rules. Jordan gave his word to Cuban, but he never signed a legally binding contract with the Mavericks. And the time is now for NBA commissioner Adam Silver to change that. The NBA might not be able to prevent Jordan from going back to the Clippers, but something must be done by the league to ensure that something like this never happens again. Although players can give a “verbal” agreement to join a team, there should still be something in writing that officially takes that player off of the market. And the NBA has a situation where Cuban will more than likely become disgruntled and he has a right to be compensated by the league and the Clippers in some form or fashion. Cuban has been fined more than any other owner in the history of the NBA and in this instance he complied with the league’s rules on signing free agents and he has absolutely nothing to show for it.
The Clippers got their guy while the Mavericks got absolutely nothing and if Dallas had known that Jordan wasn’t going to join them, things would have been different in North Texas. After Jordan agreed to join the Mavericks, there was a domino effect as other quality big men such as Tyson Chandler and Robin Lopez signed with the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks respectively and I am sure that Dallas would have been in play for either player.
To make matters worse over the past few days, Jordan never returned one of Cuban’s phone calls which is not the way to handle business. Cuban put the time and effort in for his sales pitch to Jordan who should have been man enough to speak to the billionaire face-to-face and tell him that he had a change of heart.
Jordan initially spurned the Clippers over his recurring problems with Clippers point guard Chris Paul. Paul was a part of Ballmer’s entourage that went to Houston to meet with Jordan. And at the meeting, Jordan’s agent Dan Fegan was not present as he allegedly “misled” Jordan into joining the Mavericks.
Jordan is a native of Houston, but at this point he might not be that welcome in his home state of Texas; especially Dallas. The Clippers and Mavericks have never really engaged in any kind of intense rivalry, but that will not be the case in the coming years as Mr Jordan is now public enemy number one in North Texas.