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Tag:Los Angeles Clippers
Posted on: February 7, 2012 1:01 am
Edited on: February 7, 2012 1:05 am
 

Monday, bloody Monday strikes the NBA

Chauncey Billups was one of several players to go down with injuries Monday. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore

If there was a tipping point for when the compacted schedule would really start to take a significant toll on the league through injury, you have to wonder if it was Monday night. Here's a rundown of the M*A*S*H* unit the league turned into Monday night in a torrent of injuries. 

  • The Hornets announced Jason Smith is out one week with a concussion he sustained Saturday against the  Pistons. 
  • Elton Brand was held out of the Sixers' game against the Lakers with a thumb injury. 

 That's one night of action and we haven't even gotten the random trickle-down injuries from the late games yet. Usually we'd be about a week away from the All-Star Game but since we haven't actually gotten through that many games due to the late start following the lockout, there's another three weeks before the All-Star break provides some relief. Vince Carter said last week that this year was about survival and you can tell how much that has an impact on teams' approaches. It's just a rough year for all teams in terms of managing wear and tear with this schedule, and Monday night was one in which a lot of teams lost that battle.
Posted on: February 6, 2012 11:22 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 8:01 am
 

Chauncey Billups (torn Achilles) done for season

Billups could possibly be done for the season with a serious Achilles injury. (Getty Images)
Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver

Update (Tuesday): The Los Angeles Times reports that the Los Angeles Clippers' worst fears have been confirmed. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro told the paper that an MRI test has revealed a torn left Achilles' tendon for guard Chauncey Billups, an injury that will cause him to miss the rest of the 2011-2012 NBA season. 

The Clippers confirmed the news in a statement on their website on Tuesday.
Billups underwent an MRI today at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio which confirmed the injury. He will return to Los Angeles on Thursday for further evaluation. A date for surgery is yet to be determined.

Billups, who was claimed off of amnesty waivers after he was released by the New York Knicks, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Original Post (Monday):

The Clippers' dream season might have been dealt a major blow.

With 5:48 left in the fourth quarter, Chauncey Billups injured his left Achilles tendon. But not just a tweak type of thing. Billups was helped off the court and didn't return.

According to the L.A. Times, Billups will be evaluated Tuesday when the team arrives in Cleveland.

“He’s going to be re-evaluated,” coach Vinny Del Negro told reporters after the game. “He’s got an Achilles injury. I don’t know the severity of it but it’s kind of bittersweet. We will see what happens but we will re-evaluate it tomorrow.”

HoopsWorld reports that Billups could potentially be finished for the season.
Many of Billups teammates commented in the locker room that Billups was “done”, hinting that the Achilles was more than a strain and was in fact a full tear.

Billups left the locker room with his foot in a boot and walking with the aid of crutches and did not speak to media.

One of the Clippers coaches commented under his breath that losing Billups was “a damn shame” shaking his head.

Yahoo! Sports adds this via a source: "Doesn't look good. MRI tomorrow. I'm sick for him."

Obviously more information will be available Tuesday once Billups has all the necessary tests done, but if the Clippers have indeed lost Billups for the remainder of the season, that could change their positioning in the Western Conference. Not only is he a steady veteran player, but he's also their starting shooting guard. Subtract him and the Clippers' backcourt suddenly gets very thin with either Mo Williams or Randy Foye having to step into the starting five.

Billups, 35, would likely miss 12 to 16 months if it's an Achilles tear. Regardless of what it is, it appears to be a significant injury that will cost him some time. 

Posted on: February 6, 2012 1:52 pm
 

Report: Clippers after J.R. Smith

Smith is said to be interested in five teams including the Knicks and Clippers. (Getty Images)
Posted by Royce Young

J.R. Smith is available to return soon from China where his sister has been trying to fight everyone. The Knicks are said to be a major contender for Smith, but according to SNY.tv, Smith is considering five teams -- the Knicks, Clippers, Lakers, Thunder and Bulls.

It sounds like so far, only two of those are considering him back as the L.A. Times reports the Clippers are interested in Smith.
The Clippers, still not done dealing after signing Kenyon Martin on Friday, will pursue guard J.R. Smith after the team he plays on in the Chinese Basketball Assn. finishes its season and he becomes eligible to play in the NBA, said a person not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The Clippers aren't getting enough production off the bench behind small forward Caron Butler and feel as if Smith can provide the team with a big scoring punch at the position, the person said.
One advantage the Knicks have over the Clippers is that New York can offer the pro-rated $2.5 mini-mid-level exception, while the Clippers can just give a pro-rated veteran's minimum deal. Plus, with the Knicks he could potentially move immediately into their starting five while with the Clippers he'd be battling Chauncey Billups, Randy Foye and Mo Williams for playing time.

So it seems to me that the Knicks might be the most logical place for him. Still, the Bulls reportedly coveted him before the lockout and were interested in his instant offense style of play to add some punch to their bench. Smith is likely going to want to sign with a playoff contender and will have some options ahead.
Posted on: February 3, 2012 1:03 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 10:37 pm
 

Clippers sign Kenyon Martin

Posted by Ben Golliver 
Kenyon Martin is reportedly headed to Lob City. (Getty Images)

Update: The Los Angeles Clippers officially announced the signing of free agent forward Kenyon Martin on Friday.

“Kenyon is the ultimate competitor and a key acquisition," said Vice President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey in a press release. “We expect that he will provide additional experience, passion and professionalism, as well as some important depth to our front court."

The Clippers report that Martin is expected to join the team on their current road trip in Orlando and will wear uniform No. 2.

Original Post: K-Mart is back from China and reportedly ready to open up shop in Lob City.

The Los Angeles Times reports that free agent forward Kenyon Martin, who played for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association during the lockout, has agreed to a contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. 
The Clippers and free-agent forward Kenyon Martin have agreed on a mini-midlevel deal that will be finalized as soon as Martin passes a physical, according to an NBA individual familiar with the negotiations.

Other teams that had been interested in Martin were the Lakers, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.
A mini-midlevel contract is worth $2.5 million per year for up to two years. It's a new contract offer under the collective bargaining agreement available to teams who are over the salary cap. 

Yahoo Sports confirms that the Clippers and Martin have reached agreement on a 1-year deal for $2.5 million.

Martin, 34, is an 11-year NBA veteran, spending the last seven seasons with the Denver Nuggets. Last season, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft averaged 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds as a starting power forward for the Nuggets.

He brings a no-nonsense, physical style of play and represents a badly-needed addition to the Clippers' thin frontcourt. After the exciting starting duo of All-Star forward Blake Griffin and starting center DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers' pickings are pretty slim. They've made due with the likes of Reggie Evans and Brian Cook, but Martin plugs in nicely as a third big man.

Martin's signed with Xinjiang for a reported $3 million back in September, in the thick of stalled labor negotiations. It was reportedly the largest deal in Chinese Basketball History. In December, Martin reached a buyout with Xinjiang and returned to the United States.

Martin's NBA eligibility has been in question recently. On Thursday, a report surfaced that Martin had received clearance from FIBA to return to the NBA prior to the end of the Chinese Basketball Association's season. Later Thursday, Yahoo Sports reported that China was pushing back against FIBA regarding the clearance. It's still not yet completely clear when Martin will be available to play for the Clippers, but more details should be known soon.
Posted on: February 3, 2012 3:13 am
 

Blake Griffin: I won't defend dunk contest crown

Posted by Ben Golliver 

Blake Griffin says he does not plan to defend his Dunk Contest crown. (Getty Images)

You can hear the Kia executives breaking down in tears around the world.

Los Angeles Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin said Thursday that he does not plan to defend his 2011 Slam Dunk Contest title.

ESPNLA.com reports that Griffin plans to take it easier during the 2012 All-Star Weekend in Orlando than he did at 2011 All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
"As of right now I don't plan on being in it," Griffin said Thursday night. "Those dunk contests aren't my thing, I said that last year. There's a lot of guys that can put on a great show and do some good stuff."

"Last year was hectic and it kind of made it unenjoyable," Griffin said. "So this year, we'll see what will happen, but I will try to tone it down a bit and get a break instead of being so busy."

Griffin won the 2011 Dunk Contest by jumping over a Kia while catching an alley-oop pass from then teammate Baron Davis. His absence would take a lot of steam out of this year's contest, considering that he was the one All-Star who appeared in the 2011 version. Love him or hate him, you can't replace him.

Earlier this week, Griffin threw down arguably the dunk of the year, posterizing Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins.

Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James said that he is giving consideration to participating in this year's Dunk Contest, although nothing is finalized. James has made similar indications in previous years but has yet to participate.

On Thursday, the NBA announced that Griffin, 22, was voted by the fans to the starting lineup of the Western Conference All-Star team. 
Posted on: February 2, 2012 5:47 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 6:57 pm
 

The Power Forward Generation

Love and Griffin represent the next generation of All-Star forwards. How great can they be? (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore


How good is Blake Griffin? How good can he be?

Is Kevin Love one of those guys you're going to look back and remember when he had trouble getting on the floor in Minnesota and laugh? (Wait, he already is that guy. OK, more so?)

Why is it LaMarcus Aldridge has never been an All-Star, but Chris Kaman has?

Are these guys you can win a championship with? Are these guys legends? What is it we're witnessing, here?

All right, we're 75 words in and already miles ahead of ourselves. Let's back up and start where any discussion of the greatness of current NBA power forwards should start. With point guards.

-------------------------------

We're in the NBA's golden age of point guards. There have been amazing point guards before, and certainly great point guard eras. Jason Kidd, Kevin Johnson, Gary Payton, Isiah Thomas, and of course Magic Johnson, just to name a small handful. But the era we're currently in may top any before for overall talent. You have to go searching long and hard for a team without a quality starting point guard (as long as you're not starting with the Lakers). So it's easy to get caught up in debates over which is the best, in either conference.

But hidden behind that is a debate that began a year ago, has continued for the past 360 days, and which will be set aflame Thursday night as the starters for the 2012 NBA All-Star Game are announced.

Blake Griffin will be announced as the starter. He's certainly worthy of it.

Kevin Love fans will be outraged. They're going to have a point.

LaMarcus Aldridge will barely make the conversation. And that's a crime.

All three players have emerged as the best power forwards in the West and probably in the league. Blake Griffin is the reason the Clippers landed Chris Paul, the reason they are contenders for the first time. Kevin Love may be dealing with Rubio Mania, but he's still the man in Minnesota and the biggest reason the Wolves are within striking distance of a playoffs berth. And Aldridge, who was always passed over by fans for Brandon Roy and then twice for Greg Oden, is the rock holding Portland steady.

It's entirely possible one of them does not check in on Sunday, Feb. 26th, and that's more than a little bit insane.

But moving beyond the ridiculousness of the All-Star Game, the questions about each player and their long-term futures are more relevant. Aldridge is 26, entering his prime. At the moment, he's a better, more complete player than either Love or Griffin. But their ceilings are considerably higher, and even the question of which is better becomes complicated and sticky.

But are any of them legitimately "great" all-time players? Do any of them have the potential to be Hall of Fame guys? Where are they in that pursuit?

We're jumping the gun here, and we're well aware of it. Griffin is only 22 games into his second season. Love was only truly freed from captivity last season. Aldridge is just now entering his prime. There's no way to tell if they'll live up to potential, if they've peaked, if this is the best they'll ever be. We're exploring the question to give credence to the fact we have legitimately great players at this position, and to examine how great they really are.

For starters, let's look at some numbers. Let's start with this season's results for the three in question, plus Paul Millsap who is truly the dark horse candidate this season, and is only really held back by the number of touches he shares (Millsap has the lowest usage rate. I wanted to compare them to some truly great players that played in the same era so I took Dirk Nowitzki's best season -- the 2007 season which was simply incredible regardless of how it ended -- and had to basically pull one of Duncan's 2002-2006 seasons out of a hat.)



In short, Kevin Love looks pretty phenomenal and like he's on track for that. The stunner is that LaMarcus Aldridge would probably be right there if he were just rebounding a bit more. Aldridge is having his most efficient season ever, but his rebounds per game, minutes, and rate just don't add up. Without doing anything else of note, Aldrige suffers here.

But Love is really what shines in this comparison. His rebound totals are clearly boosting him along, but he's become such a terrific versatile scorer. And for a guy whose knock has always been defense, Love is in the 71st percentile in overall points per possession allowed according to Synergy Sports, and 81st percentile in post-up defense.

Griffin's numbers struggle, there's no question there. But how much of it is just youth? He's roughly 100 games into his career. Where does his start match up with the others on this list?





Now that is surprising. Griffin is top-two in points, rebounds, and assists per 36 minutes, and PER, true rebound rate, and assist percentage (those figures factor percentage of rebounds/assists of total possessions while on the floor) in those players' second years, and first in field goal percentage. Not bad, even when you consider the strange career arc of Nowitzki.

But numbers obviously don't tell the entire story.

There is a question when watching these players play if they're truly at that level. Blake Griffin is criticized for his lack of a mid-range jumper. Kevin Love isn't considered the kind of player you can simply get the ball to and ask him to get you a bucket, and his post offense is still a work in progress. They're obviously still forming their games, but the gap between those aspects and what people expect is enough to cause the question of if they will ever get to elite status.

-------------------------------

Is Griffin simply a product of his dunks? There's no question that things like, say, Rest in Perkins this week put him on a different level from a cultural perspective. He's the most prolific dunker in recent memory, and Dwight Howard put on a cape with music. The problem comes when we start to fall for an overreaction to that from a critical perspective.

"He's just dunks."

That's a pretty significant fallacy.

Griffin's leaping ability to collect and put back offensive rebounds is something that cannot be denied. He's a solid passer. His post-game shows glimpses of what is likely to be an incredible array of moves along with the kind of natural touch that you need for a player down low. There's nothing physically wrong with his jumper that isn't correctable, and he's got range to the perimeter, even if he's going to it too much this season.

But it's the drives that will continue to be his bread and butter. He works in the pick and roll, but face-up, you need help to guard him. You just do. You had better bring a few friends. Griffin's explosiveness is largely unheard of, and that's the hidden secret to all those dunks. He's not capitalizing off of blown coverages. He's whipping around, over, through defenders to get to the rim. There will come a point where the hammering Griffin endures will take its toll. It's at that point he'll have to adapt, and whether that loss of explosiveness as he ages changes his game will factor heavily into his legacy.

But you cannot watch games like the two-game tilt for the Clippers against the Thunder and Jazz and not be aware of how he can take a game over. There are only a handful of players like that in the league, and it's that special, immeasurable quantity that really reveals why you have to consider Griffin not just one of the league's best players right now, but a legend in the making.

-------------------------------

Kevin Love can get 30 points and 30 rebounds in a game. He's done it. This should not be overlooked. Being able to produce like Moses Malone is not something you find, even once in a generation. Love's game is a stat-magician's dream. But when you watch him, it's not the numbers that should impress you. It's his ability to make all the right plays.

Love isn't just a perimeter shooter or a guy who nabs the rebound from his own teammate (to be clear, he does a lot of that, too). He's able to measure whether to take the mid-range or drive. When to pass. His outlet pass remains a thing of absolute beauty. His understanding of the floor is something that sets great players apart from their peers. There's a reason Ricky Rubio manages to find Love in huge moments uncovered. It's because Love is crafty enough and able to understand the defense well enough to slip in that possession, catch, and shoot before the defense can react. He's got the range, to be sure. But he's also got the work ethic to improve and the mind to manage basketball. Does this make him among the all-time greats? No, but his rare combination of instincts and efficiency is going to get him there in a hurry.

-------------------------------

And then there's LaMarcus Aldridge.

Neither Love nor Griffin have won a playoff game. They haven't been the man on their teams for a playoff team. They haven't endured the kind of misfortune the Blazers have suffered and navigated their way through it. Aldridge is a poor man's Duncan in a lot of ways. Consistent. Quiet. Rarely emotional, largely unnoticed and brutally efficient.

Aldridge doesn't light you on fire like Love or break you into a million pieces like Griffin. Instead he simply hammers you into submission, with mid-range jumper and post move after post move. It's his curse to have a more refined game, but it's also to his benefit. Maybe neither of the younger guns can fit so easily into a coach's gameplan. Neither is as dependable, and neither know how to confound a defense as well in big moments. They may get there, but to ignore Aldridge's excellence at this point in time is criminal.

-------------------------------

And so it is, that while the debate over the best point guard alive continues (it's Chris Paul by the way; calling Derrick Rose a point guard is like calling an alien from Mars a citizen of Austin, Texas, they're both weird but that doesn't make it the same thing), the West is slammed with power forwards of past greatness and future legacy. But it's important to capture this moment, where we see the signs of both generations merging. Duncan and Dirk riding out the end, with Garnett fading out in the East, as Griffin sets the world aflame with a highlight reel and Kevin Love leaves you shaking your head.

But in the end, it may be Aldridge, underrated, largely forgotten, less dynamic and dominant and more proficient and capable, who goes the furthest this season of all.

-------------------------------

Closing note: You realize this list excludes Pau Gasol (admittedly having a terrible season), glosses over Millsap who would be right there in this conversation if he wasn't sharing touches with 50 other bigs in Utah, and the wide array of superb small forwards in the West? Let's face it, the league is stacked right now.

Posted on: February 1, 2012 11:56 pm
 
Posted on: February 1, 2012 3:49 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 3:57 pm
 

Durant on Griffin's dunk: 'It was a layup'

Pretty much everyone freaked over Griffin's dunk over Perkins. Kevin Durant? Not so much. (Getty Images)
Posted by Royce Young

Did you see Blake Griffin's dunk on Kendrick Perkins? Of course you did. And you probably did one of a few things. You said, "OHHHHH!!!!" you shook your head or you passed out in terror.

It was an amazing play.

But one guy wasn't impressed and he has a better look than any of us.

"I have no appreciation for it at all," Thunder star Kevin Durant told reporters Wednesday, via the Oklahoman.

You shouldn't be surprised by that though. Durant's also a guy that when asked if he was happy for Dirk Nowitzki to get to the NBA Finals last year, he said, "I'm not happy for him at all." Durant isn't going to play the game where he says all the right things just to be nice. He didn't like Griffin cramming on his guy Perk and he didn't like all the attention it got either.

"It was a layup, I think," Durant said. "He threw the ball in and got fouled and made a free throw. So it’s three points at the end of the day."

It was in fact a dunk, by definition, but that's not the point. Durant came away unimpressed by the Blake Show's poster of his teammate. But is that the problem? Because it happened to Durant's teammate?

"If it wasn't against us, maybe I would have said it was a good play," he said.

I love Durant but that could've been over my grandmother and I would say it was a good play. But I understand that Durant doesn't want to wave the pom-pons for Griffin. That's what being a good teammate is. He's not going to gush about something that likely embarrassed his boy Perk.

But it definitely wasn't a layup. If that's the case, so was Durant's nasty poster of Brendan Haywood in the Western Conference Finals. I don't want to live in a world where those aren't dunks.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com