Clippers in the running for Carmelo?

DALLAS - FEBRUARY 12: TV personality LaLa Vazquez (L) and NBA player Carmelo Anthony attend the Exclusive FABULOUS 23 Dinner hosted by Jordan Brand during All-Star Weekend on February 12, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Jordan Brand)

Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post thinks so:

Meanwhile, if the Nuggets cannot convince Carmelo Anthony to sign an extension with the team and they decide to trade him at some point, could it be to the Los Angeles Clippers? I’m hearing it could be a possibility. It would get both he and his wife, La La, out to where entertainment opportunities are plentiful, which is key factor in their decision to want to move on. The Nuggets might be able to get a good young player or two or draft picks, and Anthony would be able to play on a team with some good up-and-coming talent.

“I’m hearing it could be a possibility.”

I love statements like that. He’s not saying that it’s a possibility, he’s saying that it could be possible. In other words, it’s possible that it’s possible.

Great.

Clipper fans are a loyal, downtrodden bunch. Let them be. They just missed out on LeBron James even though they were never really in the running. Owner Donald Sterling vastly underestimates how bad his image is around the league, and the Clippers aren’t likely to have sustained success until he sells the team.

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Clippers owner proves that he’s still out of touch

Mar 1, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling (left) and Dave Winfield (center) watch during the game against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center.

Funny read by the T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times, who interviewed Donald Sterling at a recent team event:

A couple of months ago this was going to be the summer of all summers for the Clippers, a fresh start, a chance to hire a new coach, $17 million in cap space to go after LeBron or other big names like him and make a huge splash.

And so they signed Randy Foye and Ryan Gomes.

Or, as Sterling put it, “If I really called the shots we wouldn’t have signed Gomes and what’s the other guy’s name?

“You know, they told me if we built a new practice facility we’d attract all the top players in the game,” Sterling adds. “I guess I should have doubled the size of this place.”

Good stuff. Simers asked Sterling about how the public dispute with former coach and GM Mike Dunleavy might have affected LeBron’s decision:

Sterling says he can’t understand why LeBron didn’t listen more intently to the Clippers’ overtures, which included $100 million and unstated things being done by Staples Center to enhance the L.A. invite.

But picture LeBron sitting there, free agency yet to begin, and reports out of Los Angeles the Clippers are pinching pennies and embroiled in a public dispute with their former coach and last two GMs.

“If you resign from The Times, what rights do you have?” Sterling says. “The lawyers say [Dunleavy] quit.”

He says the NBA deals in litigation every day, missing the point the Clippers cannot afford such messy nonsense when trying to rehab a horrendous reputation.

“In the overall picture,” Sterling continues, “[Dunleavy’s] situation is not that important.”

Reminded again he’s in charge of the Clippers, as well as the lawyers, and he owns almost every building on and off Wilshire in Beverly Hills — why not just take care of Dunleavy and avoid such a public embarrassment?

“And not listen to the lawyers?” he says.

Sterling has a reputation for being a penny pincher, but he has been willing to spend of late. Still, the organization is a joke. In the last 34 seasons, the Clippers have made it out of the first round of the playoffs once — once! — and during that span, they’ve only made the playoffs four times. In a league that rewards poor play by giving teams early picks in the draft, that level of ineptitude is mind-boggling.

However, there is hope in the form of Blake Griffin, who looks like he can be the real deal if he can only stay healthy. It’s going to take a superstar with a big heart (a la Kevin Durant) to drag this franchise out of the doldrums and back to respectability.

Is Griffin that guy? Only time will tell?

“What’s the other guy’s name?”

Classic.

Sterling should sell the Clippers, but won’t

I’ve basically ignored this story because it seemed pretty outlandish when I first heard the rumor, but David Geffen indeed tried to buy the Clippers on the promise that he could deliver LeBron. This rumor was supported by Geffen sitting with LeBron’s right hand man, Maverick Carter, at a recent Finals game.

Unfortunately for the Clippers and their fans, the team is not for sale.

“Mr. Sterling has never expressed a desire to sell any part of his team,” Clippers President Andy Roeser said in a statement. “Because it is an asset of remarkable value, it’s true that there have been countless inquiries over the years. But the Clippers have never been for sale.”

Forbes estimated the Cavs value at $476 million (#5 in the league), while the Clippers sat at #23 with a value of $295 million. The Cavs are worth so much more largely because of LeBron James. If he were to switch teams, I wouldn’t be surprised if those two numbers flip-flopped almost instantaneously. The Clippers’ value could even approach the Lakers’ value of $607 million.

So let’s say your Donald Sterling, and David Geffen is offering to buy 51% of your NBA team, which under your leadership has amassed a pathetic .341 winning percentage and just four playoff appearances in 29 seasons. So you make, say, $150 million (51% x $295 million) with the sale, and then after Geffen lands LeBron, your remaining 49% share of the team jumps in value from $145 million to at least $233 million (49% x $476 million).

Your net worth has just jumped by $88 million and all you had to do is give up control of something that you have no idea how to run in the first place. (Granted, the Clippers are profitable, but they are not successful.) Once Kobe retires, many of the notoriously frontrunning Laker fans will become Clipper fans, and the value of the franchise will jump even more. You can still sit at half court, only now you’ll be watching LeBron lead a perennial 50+ win team deep into the playoffs every season.

What’s wrong with that?

Yes, there’s the little matter of Geffen following through on his promise to land LeBron. So why not make the sale contingent on LeBron’s signing at least a three-year deal by July 10? That way, if Geffen fails to deliver LeBron as promised, there is no harm done. You can keep running the team the way you have.

Chances are slim that Sterling would be this pragmatic and the press release from Roeser is a great example. The part that gets me — it’s true that there have been countless inquiries over the years — seems incredibly shortsighted, especially considering this offer would add a 25-year-old two-time MVP to the team.

I feel sorry for Clipper fans. They have stuck by their team despite historic ineptitude, and even though there’s a possibility that the league’s best player would agree to lead the franchise into the next decade provided there is an ownership change, the owner in question refuses to play ball.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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