NBA Future Power Rankings: 23. Los Angeles Clippers:
Los Angeles Clippers: Doc Rivers may be a well-respected coach, but thus far he has proven to be an awful general manager. Rivers has entirely ignored acquiring and developing young players in many desperate and failed attempts to add the right players around his core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and JJ Redick. The only 1st round picks on rookie deals left are CJ Wilcox, a player that has only played a few more minutes than me the past two seasons, and rookie Brice Johnson. The Clips made a few smart signings by retaining Luc Richard Mbah Moute and adding Marreese Speights, Brandon Bass and Raymond Felton on 1-year veterans minimum deals and by re-signing Wesley Johnson to a very reasonable 3-year $18 Million contract. Speights and Bass are great value signings, but they are a bit redundant, and neither of the two (along with rookie Brice Johnson) can replace Cole Aldrich as a backup center for Jordan. The Clippers also made two very questionable signings by bringing back Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford. Rivers is a solid backup guard, but I don’t believe he is worth the 3-year $35 Million contract his dad gave him. For comparison, Jeremy Lin just signed a near identical contract with the Brooklyn Nets despite having a much better track record and becoming their likely starting point guard. Last season's 6th Man of the Year Jamal Crawford has been an ageless wonder, but father time is still undefeated. The 36 year old is a defensive liability and provides little more than scoring. Nonetheless, LA gave him an eye-popping 3-year $42 Million contract. Even with a rising cap there is absolutely no way Crawford will be worth $14 Million a year in his late thirties. The Clips also owe lottery protected 1st round picks to the Toronto Raptors in 2017 and the Boston Celtics in 2019. The main reason the Clippers are ranked so low is that Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are both free agents after the 2016-17 campaign and I don’t like their chances at retaining them. The Clippers and Griffin have a very awkward relationship since last season’s incident when Griffin broke his hand punching a team trainer, and the team ended up having a lot of success in his absence. I wouldn’t be surprised if Griffin decides he’s better off elsewhere. At 31 years old, Chris Paul is as hungry as any player in the league to win his first title. If the Clippers have another disappointing playoff defeat, Paul is probably a goner. Perhaps I’m a wishful Knicks fan, but if the Derrick Rose experiment fails in New York, don’t be surprised if Paul joins his good friend Carmelo Anthony in the big apple. How the Clippers fare this season will have a huge impact on Griffin and Paul’s free agencies and whether the Clippers move up or down these rankings.