The Other Side: Los Angeles Clippers

I've got an excuse, Baron. I got traded here. You actually wanted to be a Clipper. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

While the sports world will be focused the NFL's Super Bowl in Tampa on Sunday, the privileged masses who converge upon the Verizon Center tonight will get a treat of their own: The NBA's Toilet Bowl. The Los Angeles Clippers, the second-worst team in the Western Conference, will take on the Washington Wizards, the worst team in the Eastern Conference, in a game that will have an impact on the NBA draft lottery in May.

The Clippers and Wizards have a lot in common. They are bad teams still reeling from some offseason mishaps (Elton Brand jilted the Clippers in free agency; Gilbert Arenas had surgery on his left knee again). They made midseason trades that produced few immediate results (the Clippers shipped Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas to New York for Zach Randolph; the Wizards traded Antonio Daniels for Mike James and Javaris Crittenton).

They have veteran, all-star caliber talent on the roster (the Clippers have Baron Davis and former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby; the Wizards have Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler). And they have dealt with serious injuries to key players (the Clippers have been without Randolph (bone bruise) and Chris Kaman (left foot) for significant stretches, and Davis has been in and out; the Wizards have missed Arenas and Brendan Haywood, among several others).

The franchises also have a history of futility, combining to win two playoff series -- one each -- the past 25 years. The Clippers (10-36) have lost four games in a row -- and 20 of their past 22 overall -- after kicking off their seven-game road trip with a 112-95 loss in Cleveland on Friday night. Randolph has missed the past 19 games, but is traveling with the team.

Here's what else you need to know about the Clippers before they play the Wizards tonight at Verizon Center.

1. Baron Davis Is Having A Sour Homecoming
Sports Illustrated's L. Jon Wertheim wrote a nice profile looking into Baron Davis's numerous outside interests -- he produces movies, he's involved in political and social causes. At least he has something else to focus on, because he hasn't had that much fun playing basketball in his first season with his hometown team. Davis left the Golden State Warriors to sign with the Clippers, but he has already dealt with a bruised tailbone and hamstring injury all season, he's clashed with Coach Mike Dunleavy, and former teammate Stephen Jackson said Davis wishes he never left Oakland. Davis returned to action this week, after missing the previous 13 games with the hamstring injury. He is averaging 16.6 points and 7.9 assists this season. But while coming off the bench the past two games against Chicago and Cleveland, Davis has scored just 12 points on 21.7 percent (5 for 23) shooting.

2. The Clippers Have Some Promising Young Talent
The Clippers will have two players in the Rookie Challenge Game during all-star weekend in Phoenix, with Al Thornton representing the second-year players and Eric Gordon on the rookie team. Thornton, who went just two spots ahead of Nick Young in 2007, is averaging 17.2 points and 5.3 rebounds. Gordon, the seventh pick of the 2008 NBA draft out of Indiana, turned 20 on Christmas. He is averaging 14.1 points, but he has been a scoring machine in January, averaging 21.7 points this month. He has scored 30 or more points three times, including a career-high 41 points in the Clippers' last win against Oklahoma City on Jan. 23. Gordon's teammates have nicknamed him, "The Hobbit."

3. Dunleavy Plans To Hold On To His Big Men
The moment the Clippers acquired center Marcus Camby from the Denver Nuggets last summer, rumors started swirling that they would move center Chris Kaman. And, when Dunleavy traded for Zach Randolph in November, the Clippers appeared to have too many quality big men, but not enough time. Dunleavy, though, contends that he won't trade any of them and can spread the minutes around -- when and if Kaman can ever return from his sore left foot and Randolph can come back from his knee injury. The trio has only played one game together this season - a 106-105 loss to Denver on Nov. 26. Through all the turmoil this season, Camby has been a bright spot, averaging 12.1 points and 13.6 rebounds. He has had 11 games with at least 17 rebounds, including a 27-rebound game on Dec. 17. Camby missed five games earlier this month with an ankle injury.

By Michael Lee |  January 31, 2009; 11:14 AM ET
Previous: 76ers 104, Wizards 94 | Next: Wizards (9-37) vs. Clippers (10-36)


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Question for DCMAN: would you rather Antawn scored 5 points a night? I don't see how putting up good numbers makes someone selfish. To me it just means that he's good at scoring and rebounding.

Everybody on this team is responsible for 7-39. You've got some strange need to always blame the team's best player. But who's getting it done? Which other Wizard is leading by example right now? The wind was taken out of their sails before the season even started. People have to stop looking for scapegoats.

Posted by: IrenePollin | January 31, 2009 12:01 PM

I would sincerely hope that Ernie G. and Mr. Polin are not making an egregious mistake.

It appears they believe that the answer is to wait till the end of the season, then get a new coach and go from there.

That may work and if that is there plan, I hope they are right.

However, that being said, what are they doing now in order to create a winning Team, a winning organization, if you know what I mean.

What I see going on now will not change overnight. A culture of losing and a lack of positive direction and philosophy puts a new coach and the players needlessly behind the power curve.

I do not see anything going on that is contributal to success in the future.

Sure, one might argue they are coaching for the #1 pick, but to this I say, so what, it does not guarantee anything.

With still basically half a season left, how can you not start now when everyone has been knowing for awhile now that this DOG CANNOT HUNT, that is, this interim coach cannot coach.

A coach NOW that looks at everything and does everthing now to ensure success for the future is a dire need. Especially when we know that the basic cast of players will be the same.

It is not like Boston and Miami when basically the entire or most of the cast changed.

Is this organization truly a winning one, or are they just settling for mediocracy, or worst yet, FAILURE? I wonder.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 31, 2009 12:21 PM

Question for DCMAN: would you rather Antawn scored 5 points a night? I don't see how putting up good numbers makes someone selfish. To me it just means that he's good at scoring and rebounding.

Which other Wizard is leading by example right now?

People have to stop looking for scapegoats.

Posted by: IrenePollin | January 31, 2009 12:01 PM


The problem with Antawn is he plays no defense and is neither a power forward nor a small forward. Just because someone scores 20 a night doesn’t mean he is unselfish. The problem with the team is the top three AJ, CB, and Gil all are selfish players and do not know how to play team basketball.

Unfortunately AJ, CB, and Gil are the role models for the younger players and we see what type of progress they are making.

The young and impressionable players look at the players on the team who have the big contracts and think they can get big contracts by playing like them. Which means play no defense, never pass the ball, and make sure you get your points?

The only thing you got right is people have to stop looking for scapegoats. Everyone knows it starts at the top and the buck stops at Cheap ABE.

Before everyone goes crazy I only reference it to the way he runs the team.
It is sad when the Clippers are laughing at your organization.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | January 31, 2009 12:25 PM

well at least deshawn was in mid-season form right off of his injury

Posted by: bford1kb | January 31, 2009 1:47 AM


Posted by: original_mark | January 31, 2009 1:24 PM

Will Abe Pollin or Ernie Grunfeld do anything this year, or are they resigned to be the worst team in the NBA and ride it out?

Posted by: SteveC28 | January 31, 2009 1:37 PM

Always mystifies me to hear critics of Jamison and Butler's play during this awful season. They're not the problem. Both have played at a level that in a better year would have made them legit candidates for an All-Star berth. They're excellent players who've done all a coach could ask to make the best of a miserable situation.

The problem is, neither Butler nor Jamison is the sort of star who carries a team on his back -- partly because neither is a big man or a primary ball handler. Butler needs help getting his shot, and Antwan needs help on defense against the bigger guys he routinely faces.

They need a third guy. Somebody who fits that cliche of making the players around him better. And the Wiz don't have it, at the moment.

But cheez, it doesn't make them lesser players. I'm amazed those two guys are still knocking themselves out most nights on a loser like the Wiz. Of course they're getting paid, but so are a lot of folks in the NBA who don't go at it half that hard.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 31, 2009 3:11 PM

Well said, Samson151. Couldn't agree more.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 31, 2009 3:31 PM

In last night's game, both Nick Young and Javale McGee would look at the bench immediately after each mistake to see if they were going to get pulled.

With that thought in their head, it's hard to develop a sense of confidence.

The NBA is 85% mental. ET has done a great job undermining NY's confidence and a decent job in undermining JM's confidence.

The confidence in DM seems misplaced.

Even the use of Blatche is glaringly inconsistent.

What else do they have other than underwhelming vets and over-promising youngsters?

I can't think of any team in NBA off of the top of my head that isn't developing at least one or two young players.

For example, LAC are playing their two youngsters an average of 38 and 32 minutes per game.

Hello EG.

Posted by: Izman | January 31, 2009 4:00 PM

NOTE TO SAMSON151: Thank you for what should be obvious to any one that knows anything about Pro basketball Caron and Antawn play hard every night but we've got "experts" posting on this blog every day criticizing Jamison&Butler calling them selfish and limited in their skillset that don't have a clue about what's really wrong with this team starting with injuries and and the lack of team continuity precipitated by EJ's firing,veteran's know when a coach is a fraud and that's the situation with Tapscott, EJ was 45-26 when Caron,Gil, Antawn,(Metawn)and Brendan were all healthy and the team had a four year run to the playoff's but that wasn't good enough for the expert's, cries from the masses; "we're not going deep enough in the playoffs" "EJ's not playing the rookies" "EJ'retarding the progress of Andray" YEAH RIGHT!!! and since he's been gone we're a sparkling 8-27 we'll be lucky to win twenty games how's that rebuilding program workin out for us? Yeah, Thought so! I don't want to hear another word from anyone about what a lousy coach EJ was, fact of the matter is Tapscott is worse and EG is a horrible GM who has ruined the season and the franchise with his ineptitude and downright stupidity we won't qualify for the playoff's but we're a sure bet for the PING PONG BALL CHAMPIONSHIP, happy now?

Posted by: dargregmag | January 31, 2009 4:06 PM

Antawn and caron are both forcing things, samson was perfectly on target when saying neither is the type of player to carry a squad, they are both secondary offensive options and because they have been asked to do too much(mins),they are trying to do too much(forcing contested jumpers and bad passes).

Posted by: bford1kb | January 31, 2009 5:16 PM

Not being able to carry a team is not the same as a "secondary option". Nobody on the Pistons carried their team, and none of them were secondary to the other. But just like Rip, Rasheed, Chauncey, and Prince - Caron and Antawn need a capable teammates around them to make up for the deficiencies they have.

Posted by: psps23 | January 31, 2009 5:43 PM

I don't want to hear another word from anyone about what a lousy coach EJ was, CHAMPIONSHIP, happy now?

Posted by: dargregmag | January 31, 2009 4:06 PM

EJ was not lousy; he was the height of mediocrity. He had zero control over Gilbert who played him like a fiddle. Gilbert was a lesser Iverson and like him constantly sought to undermine the coach's authority with seemingly no accountability.

I am aware that you loathe Brendan Haywood. I watched easily 80% of the Wizards games over EJ's tenure and I saw a big man with potential get virtually no touches night in night out and everyone points to his production as though he had opportunity. I have never said he was or could have been a dominant center but I believe EJ squandered his potential by underutilizing him offensively. His career shooting percentage is 0.528, what other coach would not try to leverage a big man who consistently shoots such a high percentage?

The EJ firing may have been a little premature and certainly costly with having to pay the balance of his contract, but I don't believe he was capable of taking this team any further. I wholeheartedly agree that Tapscott is even worse. Obviously nobody is happy with the current situation but there is no reason to believe it would be any better if EJ had been retained.

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | January 31, 2009 6:40 PM

Sorry, did not mean to include this snippit from your piror comments....CHAMPIONSHIP, happy now?

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | January 31, 2009 6:42 PM

perhaps "secondary options" was not the right way to phrase it but either way they need someone to help the offense move. the pistons had billups, a guy who controlled the pace of games, pushed it when it should be pushed, slows it down when it should be slowed down, he ensured the squad good offensive possessions. the wiz have no such player on the floor to help aj and caron right now, the only guy whose play really seems to help everyone is crit and he has barely tasted the nba

Posted by: bford1kb | January 31, 2009 7:34 PM

TheShadowKnows: "The EJ firing may have been a little premature and certainly costly with having to pay the balance of his contract, but I don't believe he was capable of taking this team any further."

I wouldn't be qualified to judge him as a coach, but from a simple management perspective, I don't see much judgment in firing a guy less than twenty games into a season. If the GM didn't think the coach was any good, why not fire him at the end of the previous season, or before training camp? Give the new guy a fighting chance with the players, at least. Let him get a new system in place.

Suggests on the surface that Grunfeld couldn't make up his own mind and waited too long. In essence, costing his team a season.

But that's just the way I see it. Maybe there's something I don't know.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 31, 2009 9:28 PM

I would not argue with that. It probably would have been better to have done it before the season but I imagine that is tough to do with the team ending with a winning record, under tough circumstances, the previous year. The bad start provided a window of opportunity for EG; who some say was not fond of EJ. I don't know if that is the case but he did pull the trigger pretty quickly.

I have commented on here previously that I would like for Ivan to ask EG if he feels the change has addressed the causes cited for dismissing EJ. Not holding my breath.

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | January 31, 2009 10:11 PM

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