1) There were rumors that the Celtics and Clippers talked about Ray Allen but I don't see much of a fit there (as we discussed with Mr. Hann). Where else are you looking for help at the 2 guard position?
Where am I looking? Mostly I'm looking to the heavens, for Yahweh or Allah or perhaps the Flying Spaghetti Monster to help the Clippers, to maybe make Randy Foye into a passable NBA shooting guard for the rest of the season. But hopefully Clippers GM Neil Olshey has a more down to earth plan that that.
The Clippers have been linked to names like Allen, Jamal Crawford of the Blazers and O.J. Mayo of the Grizzlies -- but when I say "linked" it's usually little more than a sportswriter somewhere saying "Team A might be looking to move shooting guard so and so, and the Clippers need a shooting guard" which is more or less where the Allen discussion started in the first place.
As you and LJ discussed, the Clippers have little to offer in return beyond some expiring contracts and some smallish trade exceptions -- the loan decent playing asset they could trade is Eric Bledsoe, and Olshey is loathe to include him in any deals. Which means the Clippers best bet is to find a team over the luxury tax looking for a straight salary dump. Unfortunately, it's not as if they're going to find a difference maker under those circumstances. So while Allen for Foye, Cook and Bledsoe would be a great trade for the short term for the Clippers, Keyon Dooling for a trade exception is, I fear, the much more realistic kind of deal that could be done. (Note that I have heard nothing about Keyon Dooling to the Clippers -- it's simply the type of player that a team like the Celtics over the cap might be looking to dump for a trade exception.) Those kinds of players aren't going to help a ton.
Houston seems to be loaded at the two. Courtney Lee would fit the Clippers current needs very nicely -- though Terrence Williams is probably more realistic. And in either case, I'm not sure what the Clippers have to offer Houston in return beyond a trade exception and a second round pick. That might be enough for Williams, but surely would not be enough to secure Lee.
2) A lot was made of the "Lob City" comments when the Chris Paul trade went down, but I get a sense that the team wanted a little more of an identity than that. How is the team coming together now that expectations have been raised?
Both Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have gone on record as saying that they don't like the "Lob City" sobriquet. I don't think that's necessarily true, but what they're doing is trying to distance the team from the idea of being just a highlight factory. The Clippers were leading SportsCenter all the time last season -- and the team won lost 50 games. By distancing themselves from "Lob City" Paul and Griffin are trying to send the message that highlights are fine, but wins are more important.
The team seemed to come together very quickly -- but they've hit a rough patch recently. The biggest problem is that they are terrible on defense, and have been getting worse and not better over the past three weeks. Their offensive efficiency rating of 108 ranks them fourth best in the league, behind the new big three of Miami, Oklahoma City and Chicago, but the defensive efficiency is 21st in the league -- worst among teams with winning records. So if those guys actually want an identity other than Lob City, it needs to start with defense. Right now, they don't deserve another identity.
There is an irony to the Lob City story -- the Clippers were actually a much more spectacular lob team last season. Baron Davis doesn't do many things better than Chris Paul, but he does throw a helluva a lob. Also, after opening the season 1-13, the Clippers last season weren't afraid to try pretty much any crazy pass they could imagine -- when you're already out of the playoff race, you feel to take chances. If you go back and watch the highlights from last season, the lobs were much more spectacular. But they didn't produce a lot of wins.
3) Blake Griffin's intentional-unintentional deadpan commercials are great. Chris Paul is a superstar. L.A. is a glitzy town but the Clippers have long been the afterthought at best and a punchline at worst. If you don't mind, give us some insight into what it is to be a Clippers fan in what is largely perceived as Laker Land.
Make no mistake, this is still a Lakers town. I see plenty of people wearing Clippers jerseys and other apparel at STAPLES Center, but those people must be shopping at the Team Store or online, because you sure as heck can't get anything with a Clippers logo on it at the local Target. By contrast, there's Lakers merchandise in every store you walk into. It's a Lakers town, and will be for a long time to come.
Like the Target, the local radio waves are more or less Lakers-only as well. The local ESPN affiliate also happens to broadcast Lakers games, and for them the Clippers remain mostly an afterthought and a joke. But the LA Times actually has a beat writer covering the Clippers on the road this season, and the Orange County Register has re-established a Clippers' beat for the first time in over three years, so some media outlets have rediscovered the other NBA team in town. (All of this is kind of a drag for your humble SBNation blogger. I've been accredited by the team for a few seasons now, and two years ago I was able to sit courtside to cover games. Now, because of where blogs fall in the pecking order, I'm banished to the press box in the rafters of STAPLES Center. Part of the personal price I'm paying to finally root for a winner.)
There's certainly room for another good team here. The Clippers have always done well enough in LA simply being the not-Lakers. There are a LOT of people in the greater LA area, and a lot of them come from somewhere else -- as you might imagine, an avid NBA fan transplanted into LA would have a pretty decent chance of hating the Lakers. A reasonable subset of current Clipper fans fit that profile -- NBA fan who roots for the Clippers simply they're the local team that is NOT the Lakers.
But there are many, many more that needed for the Clippers to be good for them to finally embrace the team, and we're seeing that happen this year. Just the other day, my neighbor told me that he was rooting for the Clippers this season. I said "I thought you were a Lakers fan? You always come over to my house to watch them in the playoffs in HD." He said, "I never liked the Lakers much. But the Clippers weren't worth watching before."
I do want to touch on your observations about Griffin and Paul. Back before "The Decision", when the Clippers were theoretically on LeBron James' list of potential teams, the question of market size for a player of LeBron's stature came up frequently. At the time, I had just about convinced myself that when you're at that level, market doesn't really matter. Those players create their own market. Well, that certainly wasn't true for Chris Paul. He was every bit as good when he was playing in New Orleans (in fact better for a couple seasons before he hurt his knee) but a lot of people had no idea who he was. Here in LA, he immediately made the rounds of the late night shows, and was just cute as button in appearances with Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel, and suddenly everybody in the country knew who Chris Paul was. Markets still matter, and LA is still a huge market, even for players on the Clippers.