Chauncey Billups, by all accounts, is a pretty decent fellow. He might hoist up a few too many unsolicited 3-balls, but you know the saying, when in New York…
I open with that thought because he came off like a pretty big dolt recently when he warned the league that he wanted to pick his next team, and that no one should bother bidding on his services. He had just been amnestied — joining the likes of Gilbert Arenas and Charlie Bell — so, I can understand his frustration. But now he has a golden opportunity that he should be itching to take: the Los Angeles Clippers have won the auction for his services.
Yes, the Clippers are a golden opportunity. Sure, it may have been nice for Chauncey to hand the ball to the likes of Dwyane Wade and register an assist he probably didn’t deserve — as he would if he could join the Miami Heat — but the Clippers are honestly something quite unique. And not in the old Clipper way.
It starts, obviously, with Blake Griffin. This summer, he kept tabs on his teammates and even hosted a week long camp for them in Los Angeles. Yes, the Clippers were putting in extra work. I know, these tales are what sports movies are made of, but can anyone possibly question anything Blake Griffin does? He came in to the league last season and made the All-Star team, went for 22, 12 and 4, was second in total free throws attempted, fifth in total minutes played, and sixth in total rebound percentage. Rookies don’t do those things, Hall of Famers do.
When we visited Los Angeles last month on the “No Season Required” tour, we stopped by Loyola Marymount University to interview DeMar DeRozan. We were told Blake was inside LMU’s gym taking 3-ball after 3-ball after 3-ball. He told Bill Simmons that he was playing small forward a lot this summer, guarding guys who were quicker and taking them off the bounce. Billy didn’t follow up with a question regarding the position change (silly Billy) but it’s clear — Blake’s gonna get better. In fact, he probably already has, and that’s a scary thought. Most NBAers make their big jump in year three, but since Griffin is an early starter, let’s expect a significant improvement in his sophomore campaign.
The man who Blake is most excited to play with, Eric Gordon, hasn’t been traded for Chris Paul yet, and is healthy again. Just like Griffin, we all have huge expectations for the 23-year-old Gordon. I mention EG’s age because this team is young and it feels like they’re on the precipice of something a little larger than highlight reel compilations. Think the Thunder two years ago.
Simultaneous to the acquisition of Billups, the Clips smartly matched the Warriors offer for 23-year-old DeAndre Jordan. Chris Kaman is back healthy too after only playing in 32 games last season. Journeyman Ryan Gomes, who played the third most minutes for LA in 2010-11 out of necessity, has been replaced by the steady Caron Butler. A lineup of Billups, Gordon, Butler, Griffin, and Jordan — with Kaman and Mo Williams coming off the bench — is pretty damn solid.
It’s irrational for Chauncey to pass up a chance-y (sorry) to play on this team. I understand it would be nice for him to be running the Heat or Spurs or Lakers, but as a man who has already won a title, why not play with one of the potential all-time greats that is on the verge of finding his way? Why not impose a veteran influence on a unit that needs it rather than on an elite team that will render it next to useless? Why not grow with the promising Clips these next couple years and see what materializes? Sure, it’s a harder road, but nothing’s guaranteed with the big boys either, and this is a team that wants you so bad, it was willing to outbid others for your services.
I heard what you said a few days ago about wanting to join an elite team, Chauncey, but now that the hormones have subsided, take a look at how good this situation truly is. Plus, if you decide to join LA and you wanna continue being a jerk, you’ll fit in perfectly with Donald Sterling.