The Los Angeles Clippers have finally found their closure with their ownership situation, and it could not have come at a better time.
Former CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, agreed to purchase the team for a whopping $2 billion back in May. After a few legal battles between the NBA and the former owner of the Clippers, Donald Sterling, the sale is now official and the Clippers can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Although they lost in the second round of the Western Conference Finals to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers still had a tremendous 2013-2014 season. The peak of this occurred against in Game 7 of the first round against the Golden State Warriors, one of the best games of the season.
Despite controversy and off-court drama dominating the storylines, the Clippers won in thrilling fashion. To me, that game was the equivalent to the Clippers winning the championship. Everybody expected them to fold and give in to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson because of what they were going through at the time, but they still came away victorious.
However, poor spirits and anger still loomed well into the offseason as it became questionable whether Sterling would be stripped of his ownership duties before the start of next season. Rivers threatened to quit and Chris Paul threatened to not play if Sterling was still the owner. Just like he had done when he brought the hammer down on Sterling once his racist comments were made public, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver struck gold again this month, as the NBA won their case and the sale to Ballmer was completed.
It now appears all is well once again with the Clippers, as players have already spent time with their new owner and are all in favor of this shift in direction.
The Clippers now have to feel like they are playing with house money for this upcoming season. They will probably be floated around as a title contender like they were last season, but many analysts and fans still see the West as a two-team league for now — those teams being the Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.
This is a huge weight lifted from off each and every one of their shoulders. Right now, they are the toast of the town, not the Los Angeles Lakers. It has not been that way for a very long time, and based on the team they have put together for this upcoming year, it will probably remain that way for at least the next few years if all goes according to plan.
With that said, I still question their ability to win big games, as well as close games out that they should. And unless he has worked on his free throw shooting like a madman this offseason, DeAndre Jordan will still most likely be benched for the final few minutes of close games. This is still a major problem considering he is their defensive anchor and one of the Clippers’ best players.
Make no mistake about it though, this season has “underdog” written all over it for the Clippers. They have brought back an outstanding team, and Rivers is a charismatic leader who you could argue saved their season from crumbling. There is no other coach in the league who is a better fit for this ball club.
They still have a lot to prove, but they definitely improved their depth over the summer by adding big man Spencer Hawes and a capable point guard in Jordan Farmar. In fact, thanks mainly to them addressing their depth situation and the budding superstar status of Blake Griffin, this team could definitely reach the Conference Finals this year.
That should not be their ending goal, however. They have the leadership and team to potentially go all the way, now that they are distraction-free. The West is relatively wide open, and if this year’s Clippers squad can rally together and play like they know they can when it matters most, do not be shocked if you see them in the NBA Finals this year.