Chris Paul, left, and Chauncey Billups, right, of the Los Angeles Clippers pose for a photo at the Clippers Training Center. Paul and Billups are the newest additions to the Clippers, and Paul could just be the player to take them from fun-to-watch, to trophy-worthy this year. (Evan Gole/NBAE/Getty Images)
Look out Hollywood, there's a new kid in town. For the first time in a long time, the L.A. Clippers are expected by some
to be a playoff-worthy team. Whether or not that turns out to be true,
one thing is for certain; the Clippers are gunning for the Lakers'
The Los Angeles Lakers have long been Hollywood sports royalty, but after a wonky (and short) off-season there's a new kid in town. For the first time in a long time, the L.A. Clippers are expected by some to be a playoff-worthy team. Whether or not that turns out to be true, one thing is for certain; the Clippers are gunning for the Lakers' crown.
One of this off-season's biggest spectacles was the fate of the former New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul. Paul made it clear he wanted out of New Orleans, but he encountered a few obstacles (David Stern) in getting his wish.
After much back-and-forth, Paul finally landed in Los Angeles with the Clippers. For L.A.'s younger step-brother of a team, this will be the most significant move they've made since landing human highlight-reel Blake Griffin.
As for the older brother (the annoyingly successful brother that has always been better at everything), their offseason moves were arguably made in a less positive direction.
After "threatening" to trade Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum in a deal that would land them Paul - and after that deal got kiboshed by the league's dictator, er... commissioner - Odom was clearly offended that the team he desired to play his entire career with would cast him aside so easily.
For reasons still unclear, Odom was recently traded to the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. Either the Lakers wanted to ditch Odom's hefty contract, or they wanted to free up salary space to nab highly sought after centre Dwight Howard.
Regardless, they lost Odom to the team that swept them right out of last year's playoffs. At the moment, that's not a very good look.
Last season, the Clippers stirred up plenty of interest and cultivated (or awakened) an actual fan base by giving them something they could brag about over beers with their Laker-fan friends.
It's safe to say that Paul and Griffin sold out arenas by themselves last year, and their combined star power gives them all the momentum they need to go deep into the playoffs this season.
Griffin averaged over 22 points and 12 rebounds per game last season, and Paul helped the Hornets with almost 16 points and over eight assists per game. Combine those numbers and you have the makings of a legitimately competitive team.
The Clippers also have age on their side. The Lakers have eight players over 30 on their roster, and their playoff performance last year proved that they won't be able to hide that age forever. On the other hand, the Clippers only have three players in their 30s, and two of them are Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler.
If the Lakers DO somehow get Howard, they will probably be on the cusp of a roster re-vamp. If they make the right moves, last year's early playoff exit could be small stain as opposed to the start of a steep decline. Howard's fate is still far from decided, but he will have a big impact wherever he lands.
The Clippers may not be the new Kings of L.A. just yet, but give the young team time and they just might dominate the Staples Center.
Kacie HollinsKacie is a journalism school graduate from Calgary who caught the sports bug, moved to Toronto, and wound up at CBC. Though basketball is her game, she's covered just about everything involving a stick, sword, ball or bat.
Blake Griffin has decided to test free agency, telling the Los Angeles Clippers that he is opting out of the final year of his contract. Point guard Chris Paul will also opt out next week, according to several reports. more »