By Mitch Chortkoff
This is new territory for all of us.
Frankly, getting used to it is quite an adjustment.
The Clippers were laughed at or merely ignored for as long as I can remember, with the exception being an occasional season.
The Lakers won 16 NBA championships and ruled Los Angeles.
Now a season is approaching where the Clippers appear to have not only the better team but a better-functioning organization.
But in true Clipper fashion, a first round playoff exit last season reversed the momentum. The Clippers reverted to their old tricks, firing Vinny del Negro after he coached the team to 56 wins, including an 18-game winning streak.
So the Clippers expect more. A deeper run in the playoffs, perhaps an NBA championship.
Doc Rivers was lured away from the Boston Celtics. He has an NBA championship on his resume.
So, now what?
I’m pleased to reveal that Rivers agrees with me by saying del Negro did an outstanding job.
“Vinny did a lot of good things here and we want to continue those things,” said Rivers.
“That’s why I’ve been looking at a lot of films from last season.”
However, Rivers sees areas where improvement should come. First, the acquisition of Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick should improve outside shooting so every possession doesn’t depend on the excellence of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin
And some more productive reserves. Fourteen-year NBA veteran Antwan Jamison was supposed to bolster the Lakers last season but produced career lows in scoring and rebounding as he he struggled under Coach Mike D’Antoni.
He has signed with the Clippers as a free agent and gets another opportunity to provide veteran leadership.
Seven-foot center Byron Mullens isn’t a big name and his acquisition by the Clippers has been largely overlooked. But he’s a capable big man who should be valuable when starting center DeAndre Jordan isn’t producing.
The Clippers are knocking on the door. But they need to crash through. So far they haven’t done it.
“We haven’t arrived so we have a lot of work to do,” said Rivers.
Rivers is in the process of moving from one coast to another. He embraces the challenge of getting the Clippers to break through.
Nationally last season, the Lakers’ troubles were a bigger story than the Clippers’ success.
If the Clippers are going to be the big deal in Los Angeles they’ll require a championship.
The season will begin soon. It’s going to be fun.