Howard Beck: ‘Clippers Are Done As Western Conference Title Contenders’

While the Dallas Mavericks are elated to have added DeAndre Jordan this offseason, the Los Angeles Clippers have to be sick to their stomachs that they lost him. Jordan is the best defensive big man in the league, a rebounding force who dunks and swats shots with the best of them.

And now he’s gone.

How big of a loss is that for the Clippers?

“Well, they’re done,” Bleacher Report NBA writer Howard Beck said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “They’re not contending for the Western Conference title this season unless something dramatic happens between now and opening night – and I don’t know what that could be. They’re over the cap. They can’t replace him. They would have to make a trade to get another center. They can sign a guy like JaVale McGee. Good luck with that. But they’re shopping the bargain basement right now with basically just minimum slots to offer. There’s just nowhere to go – unless they want to completely reconstruct the roster.”

That would likely involve a trade, but who would the Clippers actually move?

“You’re not trading Chris Paul most likely, and I don’t think you’re trading Blake Griffin,” Beck said. “Are you trading J.J. Redick? Are you packaging Redick and Lance Stephenson? You can’t do it immediately because Lance Stephenson can’t be repackaged yet under the rules. There’s just not a lot of movement possible there. They’ve got a huge challenge.”

And Doc Rivers may not be up for it.

“Doc Rivers is more coach than GM,” Beck said. “He made himself team president there, and I just don’t know if he’s got the ability to pull off something creative enough to fix this. They don’t have the assets to move and they don’t have all of their own picks, either.

“So, contending for the West? They’re done,” Beck continued. “DeAndre Jordan leaving sinks that for now. And next summer, like everybody else, they will probably have a ton of cap rom when the cap spikes. But for this coming season, they’re in trouble.”

Jordan reportedly didn’t get along with Paul, who, despite his clean-cut, nice-guy public persona, has a reputation for being a locker-room politician.

What do we make of this?

“Those stories have certainly been circulating for some time, and there is certainly a different perception of Chris Paul behind the curtain than there is publicly,” Beck said. “That said, so what? I mean, it doesn’t matter whether he’s as nice as he looks in the State Farm commercials or not. It doesn’t matter whether he’s a good guy or not. It doesn’t matter whether he’s too hard on his teammates or not. (Michael) Jordan was really hard on his teammates. Kobe, we know, (is) infamously hard on his teammates. What matters is whether you do all the other things right. If DeAndre Jordan didn’t like his interactions with Chris Paul or thought Chris Paul was too harsh or whatever it may be, it’s his prerogative to go. But I don’t know that necessarily should change our beliefs about Chris Paul or if he’s a great player or not or a great leader or not. He wouldn’t be the first star to be really hard on his teammates in this league.”

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