Most NBA Executives will tell you that they will never make a trade just for the sake of making a trade; then there is Los Angeles Clippers Team Owner Donald Sterling. The long-time owner of the “other team in Los Angeles“; seemingly has never met a trade that he could pass up, despite how short the end of the stick that his team would end up with in the deal. In an Association filled with volatile Team Owners; Sterling may be in a class by himself. The lack of continuity on the floor as well as in management have kept the Clippers, for the most part perennial cellar dwellers in the Association.
It has been a different Clippers squad; with a totally different mind-set than previous editions that has taken to the hardwood for the first 49 games of this campaign. Los Angeles with a record of 28-21 as of Tuesday morning are currently the fourth seed in the Western Conference Playoff chase and they trail the Lakers by two games for the lead in the Pacific Division.
Although the Clippers won their last two consecutive games, they are 5-5 in their last ten contests; provoking talk that bench boss Vinny Del Negro was losing the team and could be fired before the end of the campaign. Sterling told the “Los Angeles Times” on Monday night that he and his front office staff believe their head coach is doing a good job. He said “I like him. I usually follow the advice of my people, and I think they care for him, like him and want him to succeed. And I think he will. Would I like more wins? I’d like more. I’d like the players to develop more; I’d like to play better. But then I have great expectations, and to a certain extent they’ve been realized.”
Sterling also told reporters that although he is looking forward to what his squad can do the rest of this season; his real focus is on the future and his mission is to lockup All-Star point guard Chris Paul and All-Star forward Blake Griffin to long-term deals. The team can offer last year’s NBA Rookie Of The Year a deal this summer, while CP-3 becomes a Free Agent after next season. The Clippers Owner said “Chris Paul will be with me for a lifetime. And Blake will too. I’m not going to ever let these guys go. They are max players, and so you’re going to pay that and keep them.”
If Sterling is able to fulfill his committment, he will have two strong cornerstones barring injury; for the foreseeable future. If that can be accomplished we may be seeing “The Battle For L.A.” for years to come.