From the George Mikan-led Minneapolis Lakers teams of the '40s and '50s to the "Showtime" era Magic Johnson teams of the late 1980s to Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant's dynasty of the early 21st century, one thing has been consistent about the Lakers : winning . The franchise has boasted a host of Hall of Famers and has compiled a string of championships which has scarcely been rivaled in the history of American sports.
The Los Angeles Lakers are a National Basketball Association (NBA) team based in Los Angeles , California . The Lakers play their home games at Staples Center , which they share with their local NBA rival, the Los Angeles Clippers , the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL , and the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA . [ 1 ] The Lakers are the reigning NBA champions after defeating the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals 4–3. The Finals victory gave the franchise their 16th championship, placing them second in NBA history behind the Celtics' 17. As of 2011, the Lakers are the second most valuable NBA franchise according to Forbes , having an estimated value of $643 million. [ 2 ]
The franchise started with the 1947 purchase of a disbanded team, the Detroit Gems of the NBL . The new team began play in Minneapolis , Minnesota , calling themselves the Lakers in honor of the state's nickname, "Land of 10,000 Lakes". [ 3 ] The Lakers won five championships in Minneapolis, propelled by center George Mikan , who is described by the NBA's official website as the league's "first superstar". [ 4 ] After struggling financially in the late 1950s following Mikan's retirement, they relocated to Los Angeles before the 1960–61 season .
Led by Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor and Jerry West , Los Angeles made the NBA Finals six times in the 1960s, but lost each series to Boston. In 1968, the Lakers acquired four time MVP Wilt Chamberlain to play center, and after losing in the Finals in 1969 and 1970, they won their sixth NBA title—and first in Los Angeles—in 1972 , led by new head coach Bill Sharman . After the retirement of West and Chamberlain, the team acquired another center, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar , who had won multiple MVP awards, but was unable to make the Finals in the late 1970s. The 1980s Lakers were nicknamed "Showtime" due to their Magic Johnson -led fast break-offense, and won five championships in a nine-year span. This team featured Hall of Famers in Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy , and a Hall of Fame coach, Pat Riley . Two of those championships were against their rivals , the Celtics. After Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson's retirement, the team struggled in the early 1990s before acquiring Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant in 1996. Led by O'Neal, Bryant, and another Hall of Fame coach, Phil Jackson , Los Angeles won three consecutive titles between 2000 to 2002 , securing the franchise its first " three-peat ". After losing both the 2004 and 2008 NBA Finals , the Lakers won two more championships by defeating the Orlando Magic in 2009 and Boston in 2010.
The Lakers hold the record for NBA's longest winning streak (33), set during the 1971–72 season. [ 5 ] Sixteen Hall of Famers have played for Los Angeles, while four have coached the team. Four Lakers—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant—have won the NBA Most Valuable Player Awards for a total of eight awards. [ 6 ]
The Los Angeles Kings are a professional ice hockey team based in Los Angeles , California . They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team was founded on February 9, 1966, when Jack Kent Cooke was awarded an NHL expansion franchise for Los Angeles, [ 1 ] becoming one of the six teams that began play as part of the 1967 NHL expansion . The Kings called The Forum in Inglewood, California (a suburb of Los Angeles), their home for thirty-two years until they moved to the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles to start the 1999–2000 season . [ 2 ]
The Kings won their division for the only time in their history in 1990–91 . [ 3 ] They have qualified for post-season play in twenty-four seasons, advancing past the first round twelve times, and past the second round once. [ 4 ] The franchise won their conference championship and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in the 1992–93 season , losing to the Montreal Canadiens in five games. [ 5 ]
The Los Angeles Clippers are a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles , California , United States . They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The club's home games are played at the Staples Center , an arena shared with the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA, the Los Angeles Sparks of the Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA), and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team has only had six winning seasons in its entire history, and only two since moving to Los Angeles in 1984.
The Clippers began in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves , one of three NBA franchises that began play in the 1970–71 season (the others being the Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers ). They played their home games at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium , sharing the arena with another new franchise, the NHL's Buffalo Sabres , who also debuted in 1970 . In addition, from 1971–75, the Braves played a total of 16 home games at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto , Ontario in the hopes of expanding their fan base beyond Western New York and into the Greater Toronto Area . [ 1 ]
The team's first head coach was Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes and the franchise's first star players were Bob Kauffman and Don May , who were acquired in the 1970 NBA Expansion Draft . However, in the NBA Draft of 1970 , Buffalo passed on hometown hero Calvin Murphy , a 5-foot-9 point guard from Niagara University . Murphy would eventually be inducted into the Hall Of Fame. As is typical of first-year expansion teams, the Braves finished with a dismal record, finishing 22–60, seven games ahead of the Cavaliers, their expansion cousins, who finished at 15–67. Kauffman, who averaged 4.3 points per game the previous year with the Chicago Bulls , led Buffalo in scoring with 20.4 points per game and earned a spot on the 1971 NBA Eastern Conference All-Star team.
The Braves repeated their 22–60 record in the 1971–72 season, but did make good acquisitions that would make the club better. Buffalo drafted center Elmore Smith from Kentucky State University and local favorite Randy Smith from Buffalo State College . John McCarthy replaced Schayes one game into the season as the team's head coach. The team did not do much better in the 1972–73 season, as it went 21–61 under new head coach Dr. Jack Ramsay . The Braves' big move that season was drafting forward/center Bob McAdoo from North Carolina . The team finally made its first playoff appearance in 1973–74 , in which it faced the Boston Celtics in the first round and lost in six games. That season, McAdoo posted averages of 15.1 rebounds and 30.6 points ; this is the last time any player has surpassed both 30 points and 15 rebounds in the same NBA season.
In 1974–75 , McAdoo was awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player Award , averaging 34.5 points, 14.1 rebounds. and 2.12 blocks per game, while shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 80.5 percent from the free-throw line. The Braves made trips to the playoffs in both 1974-75 and 1975–76 , the latter of which would be their last playoff berth playing in Buffalo.
By the summer of 1976, the team's founding owner Paul Snyder was doing all he could to sell the team. The June 15, 1976 issue of Buffalo's Courier-Express blasted the headline "Braves Go to Florida, Leaving 'Hockey Town'." Snyder had a handshake deal to sell the team to Mr. and Mrs. Irving Cowan, who would move the Braves to Hollywood , Florida , yet the City of Buffalo filed a $10 million damage suit to block the move. The sale eventually fell through and the Braves and the city signed a new 15-year Memorial Auditorium lease in July with a provision that the lease could be voided if the team did not sell 5,000 season tickets in any season. Later that summer, Snyder finally sold 50 percent of the franchise to businessman John Y. Brown, Jr. , who had previously owned the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association (ABA). Brown later acquired the remaining half from Snyder sometime in the 1976–77 season ; he, in turn, sold a percentage of the team to another businessman, Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. . However, a provision in the transaction stipulated that if Brown sold the contract of any Braves player, then the money would go to Snyder and the purchase price would be reduced. This subsequently occurred when the Braves sent McAdoo to the New York Knicks for players and cash midway through the 1976–77 season.
Before the first game in the 1976-77 season the Braves also managed to acquire eventual Hall-of-Fame center Moses Malone from Portland. However, after just two games in which he played a total of just six minutes, he was traded to Houston for two draft picks. He would finish the season averaging 13 points and 13 rebounds while only two years later winning his first of three MVP Awards.
Because of the team's poor play in its final two years (30–52 in 1976–77 and 27–55 in 1977–78 ), along with rumors of the franchise relocating because of low season ticket sales, John Y. Brown met with Irv Levin , who then owned the Celtics, and negotiated a deal in which the owners would swap franchises, with Brown taking control of the Celtics and Levin getting the Braves. Levin was a California businessman, and wanted to own an NBA team in his native state. However, he knew the NBA would not even consider letting him move the Celtics. He was therefore very receptive to Brown's offer. The deal was brokered by NBA general counsel David Stern , who became the league's commissioner in 1984. Following what would be the Braves' final season in Western New York, the NBA owners voted 21–1 to let the team relocate. As Levin wanted, the Buffalo Braves moved to San Diego, California after the 1977–78 season, and became the San Diego Clippers .
In the team's first season in San Diego, it posted a winning record, going 43–39 under new head coach Gene Shue . However, that record was not good enough to advance to the post-season, as it was two games out of the final playoff spot. As it turned out, it would be the Clippers' last winning season for 13 years. It was also in that first season in Southern California that long-time announcer Ralph Lawler began his association with the club. Randy Smith had another solid season, averaging 20.5 points per game, finishing second behind World B. Free , who was acquired in the offseason from the Philadelphia 76ers . Free finished second overall in NBA scoring average, with 28.8 per game, while George Gervin of the San Antonio Spurs had a 29.6 average.
The 1979–80 season was not much better, as the Clippers began to struggle, but not before it brought in center Bill Walton , a San Diego native who was two years removed from an NBA championship with the Trail Blazers. Unfortunately, Walton did not make much of an impact, as he missed 68 injuries due to foot injuries (which he also suffered in his final years in Portland, and ultimately shortened his career). San Diego managed to finish with a record of 35–47, despite the fact that many of its key players missed games due to injuries. Free continued his great scoring, again finishing second in league scoring, with 30.2 PPG. Paul Silas replaced Shue the following season, and the Clippers finished with a 36–46 record, once again missing the postseason. Walton missed the entire season once again due to chronic foot injuries. Free was traded to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for guard Phil Smith.
The 1981–82 season brought more changes to the Clipper franchise as Irv Levin sold the team to Los Angeles-area real estate developer and attorney Donald Sterling for $ 20 million. The Clippers' poor play in their final years in San Diego resulted in poor attendance, with the team averaging only 4,500 fans per game. Sterling subsequently lobbied the NBA to relocate the team to his native Los Angeles .
The Clippers were hapless for the next seven seasons, including a 12–70 record in the 1986–87 season that was the second-worst single-season record in NBA history at that time. Marques Johnson and guard Norm Nixon were both injured. That same season also saw Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor join the team as the general manager and vice president of basketball operations.
In the 1989–90 season , Baylor made a trade with the Cavaliers that brought Ron Harper in exchange for forward Danny Ferry and swingman Reggie Williams . That move, along with the 1987 NBA Draft of Ken Norman from the University of Illinois , the 1988 draftings of Kansas forward Danny Manning and Charles Smith of Pitt (Smith was acquired from Philadelphia in exchange for the draft rights to guard Hersey Hawkins ), and the 1990 NBA Draft of Loy Vaught from Michigan , formed a nucleus that made the franchise a playoff contender.
Midway through the 1991–92 season , the Clippers made yet another coaching change. Larry Brown , who had been fired by the San Antonio Spurs earlier, was hired as the team's head coach in late January 1992. He replaced Mike Schuler , who had led the team to a 22–25 record before his firing. Brown finished the season with a 23–12 mark, for an overall record of 45–37. It was the franchise's first winning season in 13 years. The team also achieved a first that season, for the first time since moving to Los Angeles, the Clippers finished with a better record than the crosstown Los Angeles Lakers . The Clippers advanced to the playoffs for the first time in 16 years (since the franchise's Buffalo heyday), but was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Utah Jazz , 3–2. Due to the late April 1992 Los Angeles riots , the Anaheim Convention Center was the site of Game 4 of the series, which the Clippers won. The team made the playoffs again in the 1992–93 season with a 41–41 regular-season record, but lost again in five games in the first round, this time to the Rockets.
Brown left the Clippers to become the Indiana Pacers ' head coach, and Bob Weiss was brought into the fold to replace him. That 1993–94 season proved to be one of the worst seasons in Los Angeles NBA history, with both the Clippers and Lakers going a combined 60–104 in the regular season. After one year on the job, Weiss was fired, and veteran head coach Bill Fitch was brought in to guide a roster of young and inexperienced players. The Clippers continued to make frequent roster and coaching changes throughout the next several years with only one playoff appearance in 1997 , under Fitch. That team made the playoffs with a losing record (36–46) and were swept in the first round by the eventual Western Conference champion Jazz , 3 games to none.
From 1994 to 1999, the Clippers played several games at Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim , sharing the venue with the NHL's Mighty Ducks and the Splash indoor soccer team. In 1999, the Clippers joined the Lakers and Los Angeles Kings to christen the new Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles . It was in that first season at Staples Center that the Clippers drafted the highly-touted star forward Lamar Odom from the University of Rhode Island . The Clippers finished with a dismal 15–67 record. The team hired former All-Star (and Los Angeles native) Dennis Johnson as an assistant coach, as well as Hall of Fame former Laker great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to help tutor second-year center Michael Olowokandi . Johnson remained an assistant coach until the middle of the 2002–03 season , when he took over as head coach. Abdul-Jabbar remained for only one season on the job.
The 2000–01 season brought more changes. Reserve forward Derek Strong was sent to the Orlando Magic in exchange for second-year forward Corey Maggette and the draft rights to guard Keyon Dooling from Missouri . The Clippers' two draft picks that year were childhood friends from Illinois: high schooler Darius Miles from East St. Louis (3rd overall pick) and Quentin Richardson , a guard/forward from DePaul University (18th overall pick). The team became popular among fans with its high-flying style of basketball and the Clippers did improve a bit with a 31–51 record, leading the NBA in bench-scoring with 37 points per game.
To improve upon the previous season, the Clippers acquired high-scoring and rebounding power forward Elton Brand from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for the draft rights to Los Angeles-area native and high schooler Tyson Chandler . At this point of his career, Brand had career averages of 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in just two seasons. Brand's hard work and accomplishments earned him a spot on the 2002 NBA Western Conference All-Star team as an injury replacement for center Shaquille O'Neal of the Lakers. The Clippers contended for most of the season, but won only 3 out of their last 13 games and finished 39–43, five games out of the final playoff position.
The 2002 offseason brought more changes, as Miles was traded to the Cavaliers in exchange for point guard Andre Miller , who led the NBA in assists in 2001–02 with 11 per game. Suddenly, with a good point guard in Miller, the playmaker Lamar Odom at small forward, one of the league's best power forwards, Elton Brand, the emerging center Michael Olowokandi, and a very good supporting cast off the bench, the Clippers could actually make a serious run for the playoffs. However, with poor team chemistry and injuries (the Clippers lost 293 man-games to injury), the Clippers finished with a very disappointing 27–55 record. Head coach Alvin Gentry was replaced by Dennis Johnson midway through the 2002–03 season .
In the 2003–04 season , the Clippers lost many of their core players to free agency (Miller, Odom, Olowokandi, and forward Eric Piatkowski --one of the longest-tenured players in Clippers history [ 2 ] ), while opting to retain Brand and Maggette with long-term contracts. They, along with Richardson, made up one of the NBA best high-scoring trios, with a combined 58 points per game. With new head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr. , the Clippers finished at 28–54, much of it due to inexperience and injuries.
The 2004–05 season saw the Clippers , although also missing the playoffs, finish with a better record than the Lakers for the first time since 1993. Bobby Simmons won the 2004–05 NBA Most Improved Player award after averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. As a result of that, Simmons cashed in on his newfound fame, and signed a 5-year, $47 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks in July 2005, playing closer to his hometown of Chicago.
To counter Simmons' defection to Milwaukee, the Clippers announced days later that they would sign guard Cuttino Mobley to a contract similar in years (5) but less in money ($42 million) to what Simmons received from the Bucks. Mobley was the first significant free agent signing from outside the organization since Bill Walton in late 1970s. Mobley officially signed his contract on August 3, 2005.
More deals were made, most notably on August 12, 2005, where the Clippers traded guards Marko Jaric (in a sign and trade transaction) and Lionel Chalmers to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for guard Sam Cassell and a lottery-protected 1st round pick in the 2006 NBA Draft . In relation to the lottery-protected pick, in order for the Clippers to acquire the pick, the Timberwolves would have to make the playoffs, or else Minnesota retains its draft pick.
During the summer of 2005, the Clippers announced that they would build a state-of-the-art practice facility (the first NBA practice facility within the four corners of the City of Los Angeles) in the Playa Vista development. Several current players on the Clippers' lineup live in the planned community. [ 3 ]
The 2005–06 season was a turning point for the team's overall image; a hot start marked by several wins over top teams caught the attention of many fans [ according to whom? ] . Elton Brand was chosen as a reserve power forward for the All-Star Game and articles have been run in many sports magazines giving recognition to the much improved team. [ citation needed ] Just before the NBA trading deadline, the Clippers traded power forward Chris Wilcox to the Seattle SuperSonics for forward Vladimir Radmanović . The Clippers had been lacking consistent outside shooting, which is what they were looking for in the trade.
While the Clippers had a few stretches of poor play this season, resulting in some frustrating losses, they nonetheless were able to maintain a solid record, including posting several winning streaks. The Clippers achieved their first winning record in 14 seasons and clinched their first playoff spot since 1997. The Clippers also finished with a better record than the Lakers for the second straight year.
By finishing sixth in the Western Conference , with a record of 47–35 (their highest finish since the team left Buffalo ), the Clippers benefited from the current NBA playoff format of regular season records taking precedence over winning the division, and secured home court advantage over the Denver Nuggets instead of traveling to Denver for four games as a #6 seed would usually be expected to do.
On April 22, 2006, the Clippers won their first NBA playoff game in 13 years. Two days later, they won their second playoff game, going 2–0 against an opponent for the first time in franchise history. Although they won the first two games, they lost Game 3, but won Game 4. On Monday, May 1, 2006, they won Game 5 in Los Angeles and, as a result, their first playoff series since they moved from Buffalo.
The team faced the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semi-finals. After losing in game one (130–123 in Phoenix), the Clippers beat the Suns in a 122–97 victory in Game 2. The series shifted to Staples Center for game 3, and the Suns beat the Clippers, 94–91, as Suns forward Shawn Marion scored 32 points and grabbed a game-high 19 rebounds. In game four, Elton Brand posted 30 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists as the Clippers evened the series on May 14, 2006, with a 114–107 victory over the Suns. In game five, Suns guard/forward Raja Bell made a key 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left in the first overtime to send the game into a second overtime. Phoenix beat Los Angeles in this double-overtime game, 125–118.
The double-overtime loss, to say the least, did not favor the Clippers, but they bounced back with a series-saving 118–106 Game 6 win over the Suns. Second-year defensive specialist Quinton Ross had a timely offensive game, scoring a then career-high 18 points. Elton Brand had a contribution of 30 points (his scoring average in this particular series), 12 rebounds, three assists, and five blocks. Corey Maggette came off the bench to score 25 points, with 7–8 shooting from the field, and 9–9 from the free throw line. Chris Kaman and Sam Cassell each scored 15 points apiece. Marion once again led Phoenix in scoring, with 34 points, with reserve guard Leandro Barbosa scoring 25 points off the bench for the Suns. The Clippers lost the seventh game to Phoenix 127–107. General Manager (and Basketball Hall of Fame member) Elgin Baylor won the NBA Executive of the Year award for his leading the Clippers to the playoffs.
The 2006 off-season started as the team drafted center Paul Davis from Michigan State University in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft , as the 34th overall pick. The pick was acquired by the Clippers by way of a 2004 trade with the Charlotte Bobcats for center/forward Melvin Ely . The team also drafted guard Guillermo Diaz from the University of Miami as the 52nd overall pick. While Davis signed with the team in July, Diaz was not signed, and decided to play overseas. However, the team still holds his draft rights. The Clippers did not have a pick in the 2006 draft's first round.
Meanwhile in free agency, on July 13, 2006, the Clippers scored a major coup, by signing forward Tim Thomas away from divisional rival Phoenix, in a four-year, $24 million deal. That was to counter the defection of forward Vladimir Radmanović to the crosshall Lakers in a somewhat similar deal to what Thomas got from the Clippers, except Radmanovic signed for an extra year, but both players would make the same amount of money annually, which would be $6 million.
Also on July 13, guard Sam Cassell (widely credited as the biggest reason for the Clippers' recent success) signed a two-year, $13 million deal. Cassell stated in interviews that once he retires, which would be likely after this contract runs out, he would like to join the Clippers' coaching staff under Mike Dunleavy, Sr. Also, on August 1, the team signed veteran forward/center Aaron Williams (previously with the then- New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets ) to an undisclosed deal. Williams played for Dunleavy with the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1994–95 season .
To further their television commitment to their local fans, on August 11, the Clippers and KTLA-TV announced a three-year contract extension, which would increase KTLA's annual 25-game commitment to 30 games a year, plus selected playoff games not airing exclusively on ABC or TNT . Just like during the last two seasons, KTLA will air all of its Staples Center -based Clippers telecasts in high definition . Until recently, they were the only local team to currently air its over-the-air broadcasts in HDTV; KCAL-TV aired its first HDTV Lakers broadcast on February 2, 2007, versus the Indiana Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Fifteen of the 30 annual KTLA telecasts air on KSWB-TV in San Diego, KTLA's sister station; although KTLA is already available on cable in the San Diego market.
The increased demand for Clippers games has also led to the scheduling of twelve true nationally-televised Clippers games on TNT and ESPN. The team will also have eight additional games on NBA TV; NBA TV normally uses the home team telecast's video feed and announcers, while using its own on-screen score and graphics, therefore, their presentations are not considered true, self-produced national broadcasts, such as the case with ESPN, TNT, and ABC. This brings the total of nationally-televised games to 20, the most ever in franchise history.
On September 7, the Clippers announced a radio broadcast deal with KSPN-AM , the local ESPN Radio -operated outlet. The team, though, did not fully perform to expectations, in comparison to the previous season. A lot of this has been attributed to lack of a team chemistry and injuries to several key players, including Cassell, Thomas, Livingston, and Kaman. Players such as Luke Jackson , Alvin Williams , and Doug Christie were signed to 10-day contracts to help solidify the team's bench. Jackson and Alvin Williams only lasted through portions of the January schedule and each had limited playing time, while Christie signed with the team on January 31. Christie was not retained, and was suspended on the final day of his second 10-day contract with the team, due to Christie's desire to not return to the team, because of the team's lack of on-court direction. Christie was released from the team on February 21.
Adding to the woes of the disappointing 2006–07 season, guard Shaun Livingston suffered a dislocated left knee in which he tore every ligament in his knee. This was one of the most devastating injuries this season that consequently left him a player that would never be the same. [ 4 ] This occurred with 8:10 left in the first quarter of a home game versus the Charlotte Bobcats on February 26, 2007 at Staples Center, as Livingston was driving to the basket, where he missed the lay-up, and came down awkwardly on his left knee. The extent of the injury was so severe, local news outlets such as KCBS-TV / KCAL-TV and KNBC-TV elected not to air the clip of Livingston's injury on their sports reports. According to the team's lead physican, Dr. Tony Daly, Livingston's prognosis for him to return to basketball activity from the point in time of his injury is eight months (which would put it at around the first week of the upcoming season ) to a full calendar year. [ 5 ] The Clippers, which were expected by many to make the playoffs again after their surprise appearance the season before, finished the season 40–42, 2 games behind the 8th-seeded Warriors. The Lakers finished with a better record than the Clippers for the first time since the 2003–04 NBA season . On May 22, the Clippers received the fourteenth draft pick from the NBA lottery. The draft was on June 28 in New York. The Clippers selected Al Thornton a combo forward from Florida State University . The Clippers used their second-round pick to draft a point guard Jared Jordan with their 45th pick.
The 2007–08 season started off on a negative note, with Elton Brand on the disabled list because of a ruptured left Achilles tendon, and Shaun Livingston still out with the injury he sustained from the previous year. Brand missed most of the 2007–08 year, and the Clippers struggled to stay competitive in the Western Conference. Chris Kaman was one of the lone bright spots for the Clippers, and took advantage of a depleted roster by averaging 15.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game throughout the season, but was limited to playing 56 games due to various injuries. The Clippers ended the season with a record of 23–59, 12th in the Western Conference and last in the Pacific Division.
The Clippers saw the departure of several players for the 2008–09 season , including Elton Brand and Corey Maggette, and acquisitions of ten players either by draft, free agency or trades. On July 1, 2008, Baron Davis , a Los Angeles native and formerly of the Golden State Warriors , verbally agreed to and signed (on July 10) a five-year contract with the Clippers, worth an estimated $65 million. [ 6 ]
After a disappointing 2007–08 season, the Clippers obtained the 7th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft , and selected Eric Gordon out of Indiana University . [ 7 ] The team also selected DeAndre Jordan from Texas A&M University in the second round (35th overall pick). Another second-round pick, Mike Taylor from the NBA D-League's Idaho Stampede and Iowa State University (55th overall pick), was acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for a future second-round pick. Gordon officially signed with the team on July 7, while Jordan and Taylor both signed on July 15.
Also on July 15, the Clippers acquired forward–center Marcus Camby from the Denver Nuggets in return for a $10 million trade exception and the choice to exchange second round picks with the Clippers in 2010. [ 8 ] On July 23, the Clippers also acquired guard Jason Hart from the Utah Jazz in exchange for guard Brevin Knight . [ 9 ] On July 28, the Clippers signed guard Ricky Davis to a one-year deal, with a player option for a second year. [ 10 ] The Clippers continued their active offseason with signing reserve forward–center (and one-time Clipper) Brian Skinner on July 31, and traded for reserve forward Steve Novak on August 6 for future second-round pick considerations, in a deal similar to the Camby trade.
On August 7, the team signed guard Jason Williams from the Miami Heat to a one-year deal. [ 11 ] Recently, the Los Angeles Clippers re-signed forward Paul Davis. The Clippers signed three Davis' (Baron, Ricky, and Paul) in their "rebuilding offseason" in which they obtained key players such as Baron Davis, Marcus Camby, Ricky Davis, and Jason Williams. However, just prior to the start of training camp, Williams announced his retirement on September 26.
On October 7, according to reports from various sources including the Los Angeles Times , [ 12 ] [ 13 ] Orange County Register , [ 14 ] and the team's own web site (Clippers.com), Elgin Baylor ended his 22-year reign as vice president and general manager of basketball operations. It was one of the longest such tenures in professional sports history. The Clippers have indicated that Baylor had retired from his post, [ 15 ] and as a result, head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr. will also assume the role as general manager, while director of player personnel Neil Oshley is promoted to assistant general manager.
In many of those same reports, including a related article in the October 8 edition of the Times, [ 16 ] it was also indicated that Baylor had either been fired, resigned, or retired, depending on the source. According to similar reports, Baylor had been offered a different position in the organization, with the same salary, but with little to none decision-making power; Baylor refused. In fact, when pressed about his stauts with the franchise, Baylor had been advised by his attorneys not to say anything, indicating that the team and Baylor are in negotiations to work out a settlement agreement based on his departure. According to the above-mentioned article, Baylor had been working without a formal contract since the early 1990s.
On November 21, 2008, the Clippers and New York Knicks completed a trade, in which Los Angeles sent forward Tim Thomas and guard Cuttino Mobley to New York, in exchange for forward Zach Randolph and reserve guard Mardy Collins . [ 17 ] With the trade of Mobley, only one member of their 2005–06 playoff team remains on the roster—starting center Chris Kaman. On December 11, Mobley announced his retirement due to the heart condition known as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy discovering during his physical; although he was never to play a game for the Knicks, they completed the trade anyway for salary cap reasons.
On January 6, 2009, the Los Angeles Clippers waived Fred Jones & Paul Davis to open a roster spot for Center from Senegal Cheikh Samb [ 18 ] (the Clippers have since re-signed Jones). The Clippers ended the 2008-09 season with another disappointing finish - 14th in the Western Conference - with a record of 19-63. [ 19 ]
On May 19, 2009 the Los Angeles Clippers were awarded the first overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft . The Clippers had a 17.7% chance of being awarded the first pick. With the 1st selection in the draft, they selected forward Blake Griffin from Oklahoma. To open up a spot in the starting lineup for Griffin, Los Angeles traded Zach Randolph to Memphis for Quentin Richardson on July 1. Richardson was then traded on July 20 to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Sebastian Telfair , Craig Smith , and Mark Madsen . [ 20 ]
Although Griffin immediately impressed in training camp and the preseason, his rookie season was short-lived. On October 23, he broke his kneecap during the Clippers' final exhibition game against New Orleans , most likely after a dunk that left him wincing in pain. Initially, the Clippers' stated that Griffin only had a sore left knee which would make him questionable for the season opener the following Tuesday night before revealing the break. The injury ultimately sidelined Griffin for the entire season. [ 21 ]
On February 4, 2010, head coach Mike Dunleavy resigned his position as head coach, and Kim Hughes was named interim coach. [ 22 ] Dunleavy retained his front-office title and duties for just over a month, but on March 10, 2010 he was fired as General Manager of the Clippers, being replaced by Neil Olshey . Dunleavy received the news of his dismissal from the internet, as well as friends and reporters calling his cell phone. [ 23 ] The Los Angeles Times reported on April 20, 2010 that Dunleavy has filed for arbitration and that the Clippers have cut off his salary, even though his guaranteed contract does not end until after the 2010-2011 season. [ 24 ] Although the Clippers did see some minor improvement, finishing with ten more wins at 29-53, Hughes was fired as head coach at the end of the season.
On July 6, 2010, former coach of the Chicago Bulls, Vinny Del Negro was hired as the Clippers' next head coach. [ 25 ] On August 16, the team introduced new uniform designs at a photo shoot, at the team's practice facility. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan modeled the new uniforms, which were re-designed for the first time since the 2000–01 season. [ 26 ] The Clippers' primary and secondary logos, which are modifications of the previous ones, were introduced to the public weeks earlier, on the night of the 2010 NBA Draft .
With an improving Eric Gordon, and Chris Kaman, a new energetic forward in Al-Farouq Aminu , a re-energized Baron Davis, and the debut of #1 pick Blake Griffin, the Clippers had high hopes going into the season. However, they got off to a weak start, losing ten of their first eleven games with their stars Baron Davis and Chris Kaman out with injuries. However, the Clippers showed strength when 3 of their first 4 wins came from the top teams in the Western Conference (the Oklahoma City Thunder , the New Orleans Hornets , and the San Antonio Spurs ) and also, defeated the Miami Heat , Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers . Nonetheless, Griffin got off to a strong start, drawing increased media attention in Clippers games and boosting ratings of local broadcasts of Clippers games. [ 27 ] Griffin was chosen as a Western Conference Reserve in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game , a rare honor for a rookie; he was the first chosen by the coaches for the game since Tim Duncan in 1997 . Griffin also won the NBA Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. As the trade deadline approached, the Clippers sent Baron Davis along with their 2011 first round draft pick in exchange for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon .
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