The Los Angeles Clippers, fresh off a second round playoff exit at the hands of the Spurs, came into this offseason needing to address a few things. As successful as their season was, it would only make sense to improve on it. The bench was filled with talented guards in Mo Williams, Randy Foye, and Eric Bledsoe, and grizzled bigs in Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin.
At first glance, a glaring issue was lack of size. All three guards were forced to play out of position many times, thus getting caught up in mismatches defensively. Evans(6'8") and Martin(6'9") had to take turns playing center. They brought energy and hustle, but both were limited offensively. Though they were effective at times, it was an unbalanced and imperfect roster.
This offseason came with changes on the horizon almost immediately. The Clippers needed a versatile big - one who could score, defend, pass, handle and play multiple positions. Enter Lamar Odom, who was acquired in a 3-way trade sending Mo Williams to the Jazz and a trade exception to Dallas. Odom has the ability to play all 5 positions and gives the Clippers size and versatility that they sorely lacked last season.
Photo credit: Clippers.com
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The next order in store was to add a starting caliber who could come off the bench and give the team instant scoring punch. Jamal Crawford would be that guy, as the Clips signed him to a 4-year MLE deal(2 years guaranteed). Crawford had a down year in Portland, but was the 6th Man Of The Year just 2 seasons ago. At 6'5", he has more size than Mo Williams, can create his own shot with ease and is a clear upgrade over Randy Foye.
Still, there was something missing. And that was a wing defender. Someone who could come in and guard the LeBrons, Durants, and Kobes of the world. The man called upon for this assignment is Grant Hill, who was signed yesterday to a 2-year deal. Hill brings a lifetime of experience to LA. He's been in the league since 1994 and has managed to stay afloat all this time. He gives the Clippers a high character, highly motivated, and still effective player. His high basketball IQ allows him to play effective defense. Here's an example:
But wait. The Clippers aren't done. They will add a backup big man to spell DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. And with the last minute amnesty of Ryan Gomes, they have opened up another roster spot to add a player to shore up the bench.
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Photo credit: Clippers.com
The starting 5 will likely remain the same, but with this new, revitalized bench, look for the Clippers to make some serious noise next season. And that can only be music to CP3's ears when it comes time to sign an re-sign with LAC.
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