Of course the Los Angeles Clippers managed to botch negotiations with team general manager, Neil Olshey. After all, they are the Los Angeles Clippers.
On Monday, just days after the team told various sources that Olshey would be back next year, the man who oversaw the acquisition of Chris Paul -- and managed to bring in the likes of Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Kenyon Martin and so on and so forth -- bolted to the Portland Trail Blazers. The move leaves L.A. with nobody to build on what was accomplished this season, and no legitimate front office prospects to replace him with.
There are two thing to keep in mind when you’re talking about Olshey opting for greener pastures.
First and foremost, losing him isn't significant because he’s such a brilliant basketball mind. I mean, he very well could be a brilliant basketball mind; nobody is claiming that he isn't. It’s just that we haven’t seen enough from him to know for sure. David Stern essentially dropped CP3 in Olshey's lap and, once that was done, finding pieces to surround him and Blake Griffin with wasn’t the toughest thing to do. (Especially given all the cap space he had to work with.)
The second and more important thing to keep in mind when you’re talking about Olshey’s departure, though, is what it means for the Clippers’ ability to keep Griffin and Paul long-term. Griffin is eligible for a contract extension this summer, and Paul is in the last year of his deal. Both had built up something of a strong working relationship with Olshey so, naturally, it stands to reason that folks would question how his exit will impact L.A.’s ability to retain its two superstars.
But one source close to the process told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that Olshey's departure would have "no significant impact" on Griffin's decision, despite the fact that it was Olshey whose moves put the Clippers in position to trade for Paul in December when the Hornets' original three-team trade to send Paul to the Lakers was canceled by NBA commissioner David Stern, who was acting as the Hornets' lead decision-maker because the team was still under league ownership.
The Clippers, sources say, continue to believe that Griffin will accept an extension this summer as opposed to playing out the 2012-13 season and becoming a restricted free agent in July 2013.
And while the report makes no real mention of Paul, presumably the same applies to him. Apparently, neither guy had strong enough ties to Olshey for their status to be affected by his departure. That’s good news for Clippers fans, obviously, but it also puts the onus on Donald Sterling to find a replacement who won’t rock the boat. Griffin and Paul are satisfied now, but that doesn’t mean they’ll still be satisfied by the time next season tips off.