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Game #46 - Open Game Thread: Celtics vs. Clippers

Update [2008-2-6 18:9:28 by Jim]:: Check out my answers over at Clips Nation.  

As a bonus today I exchanged questions with ClipperSteve from Clips Nation. I absolutely love doing these because I learn so much. And anytime someone says, "I've come to the conclusion that he's not evil, for what it's worth" when describing a player on a team he follows, well that ropes me in. Also while all of his answers were insightful, I definitely got caught up to speed on the Dunleavy/Sterling feud. I was under the impression that they worked out their differences. WRONG! And I think we tend to forget just how awful Sterling's reign has been. Enjoy.  

Green Bandwagon: How good has Chris Kaman been this season?

Clips Nation:

"Pretty darn good.  If you and your readers have a couple hours, you can read my dissertation on the subject (I can be a tad verbose).  If you read that post, you'll see that the question of how BAD he was last season is just as important.  In short, Kaman has always shown the promise of a great player - this season he has become that player.  He's ambidextrous (he's ostensibly right handed, but actually is better with his left hand around the basket), he's big, he's quick and he's - believe it or not - graceful.  I've never liked the 'Kaveman' moniker as it implies a clumsy oaf accomplishing things by brute force, and that's not Chris.  In fact, I wish there were more Neanderthal in him at times.  At any rate, all of his statistics are way up, both in raw numbers and per minute.  He's 3rd in the league in rebounding, 3rd in the league in blocked shots and second to Dwight Howard in double-doubles as a percentage of games played (Chris has played fewer games than Al Jefferson or Carlos Boozer).  His shot blocking in particular is revelatory - he's more than doubled his prior career high.  Is this all just a result of more opportunities in the absence of Elton Brand?  Yes and no.  Sure he's had the touches - but the beta release of Chris Kaman would not have responded well to additional pressure.  Kaman 2.0 is the real deal.  Simply put, Dwight Howard is the only center in the league putting up better combined numbers.  He's Marcus Camby or Tyson Chandler with a dazzling offensive arsenal.  He's Yao Ming with the ability to dominate on defense.  He's pretty darn good."

Green Bandwagon: Quinton Ross is in the last year of his contract and Corey Maggette has a player option for 2008/2009. What do you think is next for them?

Clips Nation:

"Thank you for asking about Q.  I was not aware that anyone outside of LA (and maybe the SMU alumni community) knew he existed.  I have very little idea what is going to happen to Q.  I think organizations can be pretty emotional with their free agents.  Sometimes they become attached to someone and overpay to re-sign him - other times they're just tired of the guy, and let them walk when the right basketball decision would have been to keep him.  Q has always been a favorite of MDsr, so I'm guessing the former is more likely.  Unfortunately for Q, he's had a horrible year shooting the ball (during a season when the Clippers needed more offense from everybody, not less).  He's at 38.5% for the season, and recently finished a stretch in January where he missed 21 consecutive shots.  It was, as you might imagine, brutal to watch.  So it's really hard to gauge his value on the free agent market.  I would think a team like Sacramento (he's held Kevin Martin to 3 seasons worth of bad games) or New York (Jamal Crawford scored zero against Q Monday night, before going off against other defenders) would at least understand how good a defender he is.  But he's a bad offensive player.  Really, really bad.  Anyway, my guess is he stays with the Clippers in the 3 year/$7M range.

As for Maggette, here's my take.  Corey turned down a big three year extension from the Clippers this off-season.  That implies that his intention, at that time anyway, was to opt out and test the market.  But the economics of the cap may make for a pretty bad market for him.  Very few teams will have the flexibility to offer more than the mid-level.  Those teams will be gunning for Antawn Jamison and the other early termination prizes (Arenas, Marion and god forbid Brand).  Is anyone really going to use their hard won cap space to pay Corey Maggette $10M per?  It's only a handful of teams, and then you have to consider those teams' needs.  So I actually think that he'll exercise his option to play another season with the Clippers on his current deal.  Of course, this may be another team's problem if Maggette is dealt before the deadline, which is a distinct possibility.  The whole situation is complicated by the feud between the owner and the coach (see below)."

Green Bandwagon: What are your thoughts on Donald Sterling, Mike Dunleavy Sr. and their recent public spat of sorts?

Clips Nation:

"Again, if you're really interested, you can read a lot about it here and here and here.  Sterling started it, and he said some really dumb things like "Injuries are no excuse, if a player gets hurt, add a player" as if Elton Brand caliber players are just waiting for his phone call.  But he's the owner, and he's allowed to say dumb things as long as he keeps signing the checks.  (One of those checks being the 4 year/$22.5M extension he gave the coach 15 months ago.)  MDsr responded like any 9 year old would, except he's not 9.  It was, shall we say, unwise.  Then it got really weird.  At the shootaround for the next game, MDsr told reporters that he had spoken to Sterling on the phone and that they were 'on the same page.'  Only when reporters asked Sterling about the conversation, he said it had never occurred, and indeed MDsr had to recant his story later.  This would all be one level of ridiculous in any other organization.  But we're talking about Donald T. Sterling and the Clippers here.  He has been singled out as the worst owner of the worst franchise in pro sports.  His teams have NEVER had back to back winning seasons in 25 years (think about that).  And he's had the same GM for 22 seasons, while other teams have switched GMs like light bulbs (the old kind, not those new fancy long lasting ones).  As far as anyone in LA knows, Sterling and Dunleavy have yet to speak, on the phone or face to face, on this subject.  Sterling's right hand man Andy Roeser did go on TV to say that everything was cool.  Bottom line - MDsr gets a do-over because of injuries this season.  If a healthy Clippers team gets off to a poor start next November, you can expect a change, even if it costs Sterling a lot of money.  Oh yeah... as I mentioned before, Maggette is tied up in all of this.  Sterling likes Maggette (he and Brand were the first two big money extensions the Clippers ever signed) and MDsr doesn't.  MDsr has tried to trade Maggette on numerous occasions - once for Artest which fell through because of the Pacers' concerns, once for his own son which was simply insane and finally this summer for Jason Terry.  The fact that Sterling or possibly Roeser vetoed the Terry deal is one of the things that sent MDsr into a tizzy.   So what happens next with Maggette could determine what happens next with the owner and the coach.

Green Bandwagon: Is the Tim Thomas experience as maddening as it seems?

Clips Nation:

"Yes. I've come to the conclusion that he's not evil, for what it's worth.  He appears to be a really nice guy, and he's massively talented.  He's just not driven.  Here's the interesting part - in the playoffs, when the stakes are high and he gets focused, he could be a great asset, as we saw a couple seasons ago for Phoenix.  But he is who he is, and he's just not going to go after every rebound during an 82 game regular season. He's no el Tigre."

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