No moves mean no improvement

As the Clippers stare at the Feb. 21 trading deadline, the word is that they’re listening to trades, but nothing is imminent. In other words, they may not do anything, despite the frenzy of deals in the Western Conference and despite their horrendous season.

The problem is that they hardly have anything worth much as trade bait. They are hoping to get a late first-round draft pick for Sam Cassell, but that might not happen. Corey Maggette’s name is swirling around with rumors yet again, but they might not get anything better back for him.

Maybe there is no move that makes sense for them. But with the team struggling and with them in desperate need of outside shooting, maybe they should try some sort of shake up.

Bottom line: Even with the team struggling so much, don’t be suprised if they don’t make a move. Although it seems unnecessary and borderline preposterous, the 38-year-old Cassell could actually remain with them for the rest of the season. At least, that’s the talk around the Clippers. But maybe it’s just talk, and they’re hoping Cassell’s value increases.

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Is Clippers’ infighting over?

Well, that’s what the Clippers are trying to the public think, especially with team president Andy Roeser going on Fox Sports Prime last night to explain just that. However, Donald T. Sterling may still need some time to put coach Mike Dunleavy’s harsh words behind him.

We can only really speculate on Sterling’s true feelings because he has repeatedly refused interview requests this week. There certainly are some divided members in the organization on various issues. Is that natural? Perhaps. But a lot of this stuff is carrying into the press, and that ain’t pretty.

In another Clipper note of interest, Clipper Darrell — the boisterous fan with a half red and half blue suit — indeed is mulling over a job offer to become Maverick Darrell.

Just when you might think things can’t get any weirder in the NBA world and Clipper world, how bizarre would it be to see Darrell get up and move to Dallas and cheer for a different team? I can’t possibly see that happen. But who knows? Weird stuff is happening practically every day in the kooky world of professional basketball.

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Sterling and Dunleavy feud — let’s judge this

Lets judge the Mike Dunleavy, Donald T. Sterling feud: Dunleavy has lost his cool, big time.
In case you havent heard, Sterling criticized Dunleavy and Elgin Baylor in Tuesdays T.J. Simers column in the L.A. Times. Simers is known for being combative and abrasive in interviews, and that may or may not have helped Sterling be so critical. Who knows? Sterling said if more wins didnt come he would think of replacing Dunleavy and Baylor.
The owners statement was a shock because Dunleavy is in the first year of a four-year, $22 million deal and Baylor has been with the team since 1986. Still, Sterlings words werent off base. The NBA is a results-based business, and if there arent positive results, replacing a coach and/or general manager is reasonable.
But heres where things went wild. Dunleavy fired back at Sterling, saying “Be by guest, with replacing him as well as criticizing management for not following through on two deals he wanted.
That was completely o.b. — out of bounds.
Dunleavy is the coach of the basketball team, not the owner and not the GM. He should not have the right to criticize his co-workers and should still be indebted to Sterling for signing off on his mega-millions contract. As owner, the signer of paychecks, you earn the right to criticize your guys, as long as its done fairly.
Dunleavy deserves a thumbs up for speaking his mind. But a little diplomacy would have gone a long way in handling a situation that is getting worse.
Today, before the Clippers meet the Kings, it will be interesting to see where the coach is with his comments. Also, these two, Dunleavy and Sterling, should speak face to face, but there is no guarantee they have even done that even with all of these insults flying.

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The value of the Clipper$

The Clippers have been going through loss after loss, and the question has to be asked if, or when, they’re going to make some roster moves, other than signing guys to 10-day contracts. Sam Cassell is 38. Plus, Corey Maggette can become a free agent after this season, and Elton Brand is nearing the end of his contract. So what should they do?

Right now, a possible trade is not happening because of what the Clippers can get in return. There’s no value there.

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The hope is that the Clippers can get something equal, or better, back for possibly Cassell and/or Maggette near the Feb. 22 trade deadline. But there is no telling what that will be. And who knows, this could be a third straight year that trade rumors eventually surface about Maggette and nothing happens. The Clippers still like their nucleus of players with Chris Kaman, Shaun Livingston, Brand and now perhaps Al Thornton. It will be interesting to see if the team can improve itself in this defeat-filled season.

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Clippers to trade Cassell?

Nothing is imminent, and the Clippers have been quiet about possibly moving Sam Cassell. But there are logical reasons to think the 38-year-old point guard will be traded before the league’s February trade deadline.

The Clippers already are far out of the playoff picture, and this is the final year of Cassell’s two-year deal with the Clips. He can still score and could help a playoff-bound team looking for scoring from the point-guard position. A big question is what the Clippers can get for him, and their dream probably would be a first-round pick, but there’s no guarantee they can get that.

If the Clippers are thinking about their future, and they should be with so many key injuries this season, having Cassell really doesn’t benefit them. It will be interesting to see how things play out and if the team finds something worthwhile for the likable veteran.

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A contract issue

Well, a few days later, the Clippers have gotten over the release of Ruben Patterson. Actually, they got over that earlier, the NBA being a business and all, but Patterson was a well-liked guy with tons of NBA experience. He seemed like a keeper.

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However, he was the only Clipper with a non-guaranteed contract, and so the team thought it would be a better idea to let him go before his contract became guaranteed than keep him. At least one other player — and possibly three guys — on the roster would seem to be the player to get rid of, but those guys had a guaranteed contract.

The new Clipper, Richie Frahm, also has a non-guaranteed contract. So he may not stay with the squad. If Sam Cassell stays injured and either Brevin Knight or Dan Dickau go down, expect the Clippers to immediately sign a point guard…

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What makes a center?

As shocking as it may sound, considering Chris Kaman’s underachieving debacle last year, it is a relevant Clipper conversation to wonder if Kaman can make the All-Star team. It is a possibility, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

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The problem is that Yao Ming will get voted in as the Western Conference starting center, and the Suns’ Amare Stoudemire probably will be the backup. So where does that leave Kaman? Well, off the team. If Stoudemire were considered a power forward, then Kaman would have a shot. But as it stands, Stoudemire is listed as a center on the All-Star ballot, and that seriously hurts Kaman’s chances.

At least the league helped Kaman by moving Tim Duncan from center to forward, after he was listed as a center earlier in the season…

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Patterson’s pain

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

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OK, Ruben Patterson’s right pinkie finger doesn’t look this bad. But it should be noted that he is playing with a dislocated pinkie on his shooting hand, and that could explain his dropsies and his misses around the basket this season. A few other guys are playing through injuries, too, but Patterson’s has seemed to have an obvious effect.

Here’s hoping that the rest of this Clipper season doesn’t become all about injury talk. Yes, they are banged up. But let’s just take it as a given that all NBA teams have to fight through injuries…

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The Clippers’ domino effect

The Clippers had a glorious start to their season, winning their first four games. But now they’ve lost four of five, and it appears obvious what is happening: The Domino Effect.

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With Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston out until at least February, that means the Clippers have 13 available players and there will be more wear on tear on their key players. So Cuttino Mobley, Corey Maggette and Al Thornton already have missed games. Quinton Ross also is hurt, and along with Mobley and Thornton, will be a game-time decision for Wednesday’s game against Denver. Maggette has been ruled out.

What is interesting is that the swingmen are going down. An assumption may have been made that the point guards with veterans Sam Cassell and Brevin Knight, would go down first, but so far that duo is OK. Maybe it’s just a matter of time before the dominoes hit them…

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The Clippers’ mob boss

It has come to my attention from an observant colleague that Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy has a striking resemblance to New Jersey organized crime boss Tony Soprano.

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Now, I’m not sure how close the two are in appearance, but the duo may share a similarity in defying tough odds. Tony Soprano — he survived the mob life even until the final episode of the Sopranos. Mike Dunleavy — he has gotten his superstar-less squad to 5-2 in the superstar-laden NBA.

Dunleavy is far from a perfect coach, but he deserves credit for getting a lot out of his roster. The other night against the Knicks, that was put on display as New York coach Isiah Thomas hardly got anything out of his roster, which actually isn’t as awful as many think. If Dunleavy were coaching the Knicks, here is one bet that they’d at least be in the hunt for the playoffs…

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