When the Los Angeles Clippers seemed to be losing DeAndre Jordan in free agency, many pointed a finger towards his rocky relationship with team star and point guard Chris Paul. But like everything in sports news and especially during the hectic free agency, things might have been exaggerated.
While there’s been no denial from the team and both players that there have been problems in the past, there’s no way Jordan would be coming back if playing next to Paul would have been such a huge problem for him. In the end, Paul was part of the brigade that landed in Houston and kept a confused Jordan from making another 180, eventually rescinding on his agreement with the Mavericks and signing a five-year deal with the Clippers.
DeAndre’s like my big little brother. We talk a lot more than people ever realize. But it doesn’t matter what people say. The only thing that matters is that he’s back. We brought in Paul Pierce who I’m probably the happiest about because of his championship pedigree and that voice in our locker room. We brought in Lance, Wes Johnson, signed Austin Rivers back. Josh Smith. Yeah, so, big summer for us.
Paul seemed quite jovial and optimistic about what comes next for him and the Clippers during the annual Players’ Awards at the Penn & Teller theater at the Rio Las Vegas. Not just Jordan coming back. In the end, the Clippers look a lot stronger and better thanks to their offseason moves, and maybe even with a bench that can back up an excellent starting five. They lost Matt Barnes through a trade but won’t worry too much about it, and right now Jamal Crawford, a big part of their success and offense in the last few years, isn’t going anywhere.
The Clippers have won almost 67% of their regular season games over the last four seasons (since Paul arrived), ending a five-year drought when it comes to postseason basketball. They’ve been to the conference semifinals three times in those four years, but still haven’t been able to make that leap towards really threatening the NBA title. Last season they already had a 3-1 lead over the Houston Rockets in the conference semifinals but collapsed and lost three games in a row to be eliminated from the playoffs.
Now, with the additions they’ve made and the players they’ve been able to keep, expectations are at an all time high. If you’ve been following the Clippers over the years, it usually means bigger disappointment.