Clippers star Blake Griffin (left) has his name linked to a trade that would bring Dwight Howard from the Clippers, but at the center of all the crazy Clippers rumors is free agent Chris Paul (right) who wants to pair with Howard next season. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
The Clippers last played a meaningful basketball game almost three months ago when they were blown out of the first round of the Western Conference, but right in the ‘Heat’ of the NBA Finals all of the talk in the basketball world was about a team that has yet to even smell the popcorn in one.
Just in case you have been under a Clippers doormat the past few days, Los Angeles’ other basketball team has managed to garner more headlines than San Antonio, Miami and the Lakers without even taking the court.
It’s less than 10 days before the NBA draft and free agent signing period, but the Clips have lit up sports talk radio, social media and television airwaves like a Red Auerbach cigar.
The week began amid swirling speculation that the Clippers were on the verge of landing Celtics championship caliber coach Doc Rivers and its veteran super star Kevin Garnett in a trade that would have sent emerging center DeAndre Jordan and a first round draft pick. However, Boston wanted an additional first rounder since heralded point guard Eric Bledsoe was not on the table. The Clippers front office relented to apparently kill the deal.
A public spat between the two front offices, one that is basketball royalty with the second most NBA titles in history at 16, the other relishing in basketball infamy and constantly playing the ugly stepchild to the perennial title winning Lakers.
To say this has been some week to remember would be a vast understatement.
As the metaphoric door was closing on a deal that would have locked Rivers in as the Clippers coach for five seasons at $7 million per, another ghostly dream of a Clipper possibility was emerging.
Even more that smoke had settled from the exhibition fireworks, a monster deal involving Clipper superstar Blake Griffin and Lakers free agent center Dwight Howard was being floated.
Of course after the Doc to Hollywood script was scrapped, the potential sign and trade swap involving Griffin and Howard picked up steam.
Would the Lakers have made a deal with their hometown tenants, worse a team within their own town, division and conference?
Would the Clippers trade arguably the most popular young player in the league to their most hated rival whom they finally surpassed by capturing the Pacific Division title?
Logic says no, but nothing the Clippers have been doing since the season ended is logical.
Now, the team that has been on the cusp of becoming more than just a regular in the post season to gaining traction on a championship has to turn to its best player under contract and explain to him what they are doing.
Can you imaging the Lakers floating Kobe Bryant’s name about in trade rumors without consulting with him?
Frankly the Clips are demonstrating they would rather have Chris Paul no matter what it takes, even if it means trading away the redhead.
A year ago the team matched the restricted free agent contract to retain Jordan, a highflying undersized pivot man who shoots free throws like Shaq, but now they want to trade him.
Paul is holding the franchise hostage with his pending free agency, and the club is spinning out of control trying everything possible to appease him.
The State Farm double agent, Paul has kept his anonymity as if he was attending an AA meeting, distancing himself from the firing of former coach Vinnie Del Negro and not wanting to appear that he’s influencing any decision the team makes.
The Clippers on the other hand are making it clear both publicly and privately that all of their decisions will be framed on doing everything to keep Paul, so that he returns on a long-term deal.
Constant rumors are circulating that Paul wants his friend Dwight Howard to play for the same team.
Howard, a Lakers free-agent, is weighing his options on either returning to the Lakers for $108 million or taking $30 million less from either Houston, Dallas or Atlanta.
Meanwhile, the Clippers always acutely aware of anything that Paul might be thinking or dreaming is quietly contemplating trading their franchise ace and the most exciting 24-year old all star Griffin.