Jamal Crawford contributed quite a bit to Clippers, and he’ll be back for more

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Jamal Crawford, Andre Iguodala

Photo by Associated Press

Any time you have a guy coming off the bench who averages more points than three of your starters, that’s a heck of a good thing.

Jamal Crawford was that man for the Clippers this past season. After averaging 16.5 points in 2012-13 in his first season with the club, he came back with an 18.6 scoring average in this just-concluded 2013-14 campaign. Crawford also averaged 3.2 assists, demonstrating he could run the team when Chris Paul was hurt or just not on the floor. Again, a very nice thing to have from a player known mostly as a deadly shooter when he’s hot.

While it’s true that Crawford has never shot for a real high average – he has a career shooting percentage of 41.1 percent – he has the knack for making several 3-pointers in succession from tough angles with players in his face. It’s just the kind of thing that can turn a game around in a hurry.

For example, Blake Griffin told this newspaper toward the end of the season that Crawford is the player teams have to look out for most when he’s hot. Indeed, he is a game-changer.
Crawford shot 41.6 percent (421 of 1,011) overall in 2013-14, 36.1 percent (161 of 446) from 3-point range. For his efforts, he was chosen Sixth Man of the Year for the second time in his career. Oh, and by the way, Crawford also shot 86.6 percent from the free-throw line this past season and has an 85.5-percent percentage over his 14-year career.

Crawford, who battled a calf strain in the latter part of the season, also brings a very strong character to the clubhouse, something of which a team can never have enough.

He’s not perfect, of course. Like all shooters, he gets in slumps and has games where he contributes less than usual. If there is a criticism, it’s that. But you don’t average 18.6 points off the bench by having many poor outings.

Crawford, 34, even seemed to improve his defense, at the behest of coach Doc Rivers.

The best thing of all, Crawford is signed with the Clippers through the 2015-16 season. He is slated to make $5,450,000 in 2014-15.

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J.J. Redick played only half a season, but his presence was felt in positive ways

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JJ Redick Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

J.J. Redick just completed his first season with the Clippers. Or should we say half-season as he played in only 35 regular-season games because of a bulging disc in his back.

However, if there was one thing Redick showed was the ability to move extremely well without the ball, then hitting big-time jump-shots with a quick catch and release once he received it. He is the perfect complement to a team with superstars like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and high-scoring sixth-man Jamal Crawford.
Redick, 29, shot a career-best 45.5 percent (181 of 398) from the field. Considering that nearly half of his shot attempts were from 3-point range, that is not too shabby at all; he shot a very solid 39.5 percent (73 of 185) from beyond the arc.

Once Redick came back April 3 after missing two months, the burning question to him was, “Will you end up having off-season surgery?” Redick didn’t know if that would
be the case. But it must be said that he was never pain-free once he came back, all the way through the Western Conference semifinals. He’s that courageous player all
coaches want, and Doc Rivers never made any bones about how much he liked Redick and his mettle.

If Redick is ready to go when spring training begins in about four months, there seemingly is no reason why he shouldn’t be right back in that starting lineup.

Redick is signed through the 2016-17 season. He is slated to make $6,792,500 in 2014-15.

 

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Chris Paul selected first-team All-NBA, Blake Griffin is on the second team

Point guard Chris Paul was selected first-team All-NBA and power forward Blake Griffin made the second team, the NBA announced Wednesday. It was the fourth first-team selection of Paul’s career.

Joining Paul on the first team are forward Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City, forward LeBron James of the Miami Heat, center Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls and guard James Harden of the Houston Rockets.

Durant was the only player to be selected to the first team on all 125 ballots; James was first-team on 124.

Joining Griffin on the second team are guards Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, forward Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves and center Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets.

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Hard-nosed Matt Barnes took positive steps in controlling his temper

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Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes left Clippers forward Blake Griffsecond from left tangle with OklahomCity Thunder forward Serge Ibaksecond

Photo by Associated Press

Matt Barnes just completed his 11th season in the NBA, and he put up some of his better numbers. He averaged 9.9 points – his career-best is 10.3 – while pulling down 4.6 rebounds and doling out 2.0 assists. He also shot 43.8 percent from the field, 34.3 percent (97 of 283) from 3-point range.
One of the things about Barnes, he is one tough hombre. He doesn’t shy away from contact, he is not afraid to take a crucial shot with the game in the balance. If he is
having a good game, the energy with which he plays seems to pump up his teammates.

Barnes also took some positive strides when it comes to technical fouls and such. In 2012-13, he had 10 technical fouls, four flagrant and two ejections during the regular season. In this just-concluded 2013-14 campaign under first-year coach Doc Rivers, Barnes had just four technical fouls, three flagrant, two ejections.

This was an issue that both Rivers and Barnes discussed with reporters many times during the season. Rivers said he tried to impress upon Barnes that playing hard and committing needless technical and flagrant fouls are not the same thing. One can play very hard without creating unnecessary hardship for his team, the thinking was.

Barnes also had some very bright moments on defense, making him an important part of the Clippers’ lineup.

That doesn’t mean Barnes should rest on his laurels. After all, there were some games where he contributed very little. Invisibility is the type of thing that every player wants to avoid.

Barnes should be in the fold again next season as he is signed for 2014-15 for $3,396,250, with a club option for 2015-16 for $3,542,500.

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Chris Paul makes All-Defensive first team for the fourth time

Point guard Chris Paul has been selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive first team for the fourth time during his nine-year career.

Paul, who led the league in steals with a 2.48 average, received 64 first-team votes. Joining him on the first team are Defensive Player of the Year center Joakim Noah (105 first-team votes) of the Chicago Bulls, forward Paul George (65 first-team votes) of the Indiana Pacers,  forward Serge Ibaka (54 first-team votes) of the Oklahoma City Thunder and guard/forward Andre Iguodala (57 first-team votes) of the Golden State Warriors.

Voting consisted of a panel of 123 sports writers and broadcasters.

The second team is made up of forward LeBron James of the Miami Heat, guard Patrick Beverley of the Houston Rockets, guard Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls, forward Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs and center Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers.

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Chris Paul has nothing but upside on his side, so next season should be interesting

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Photo by the Denver Post

Point guard Chris Paul has now been in the NBA for nine seasons. But he’s never made it past the second round of the playoffs, and that is something he said during this recently concluded post-season that he really wants.

With that in mind, let’s examine the 2013-14 campaign he put together. Paul averaged 19.1 points, a league-high 10.7 assists and a league-high 2.48 steals. Not a darn thing wrong with any of those numbers, even though none represents a personal best. With scoring machines like Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford around, it would have been difficult for Paul to surpass his highest scoring season of 22.8 set in 2008-09 with the New Orleans Hornets.

If anything, the one thing Paul showed that may have been somewhat surprising is that – gasp – he’s human. In 62 regular-season games – he missed 20 games because of injury – he had the league’s best assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.57.

During the first four games of the Western Conference semifinals against Oklahoma City, Paul had committed just six turnovers while doling out 46 assists. But in Game 5 at Oklahoma City, he had a very uncharacteristic five turnovers – two down the stretch that played a big role in his team losing the game after it led by 13 points with just over four minutes to play and by seven with 49.2 seconds left.

Paul and the Clippers were not able to rebound from that, and lost the series in Game 6 at Staples Center.

Since Paul doesn’t really have to improve upon any particular part of his game, all he really has to do moving forward to next season is forget about what he called the toughest moment of his basketball life in the Game 5 post-game news conference.

If Paul can do that – and the feeling here is he will – he will be able to use that experience as a springboard toward the success he and every other NBA player wants to reach – the NBA Finals.

Paul is under contract with the Clippers through the 2017-18 season, so he’s not going anywhere. He will make $20,068,563 in 2014-15.

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Jamal Crawford doesn’t want to speak on possible sale to Steve Ballmer until it is official

No sooner did the news hit Thursday that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer would likely be the Clippers’ new owner pending NBA approval of his $2 billion bid to buy the team, did it become know that guard Jamal Crawford and Ballmer know each other.

We got a hold of Crawford through an exchange of direct messages on Twitter on Thursday night. He didn’t want to say much just yet, however.

“Hearing about the news, but don’t wanna speak on it until everything is official if that happens,” Crawford wrote.

Fair enough.

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L.A. Times reporting Steve Ballmer to purchase Clippers for $2 billion

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has won a bidding war to purchase the Clippers for $2 billion.

The Los Angeles News Group hasn’t confirmed the report and there are many steps before any sale is final. Following the Times’ report, Donald Sterling’s attorney Max Blecher, in an email, told our reporter Jack Wang : “He is resisting and will resist any sale of the team forced by the NBA.”

Any sale still must be approved by the NBA Board of Governors.

We will update as more information becomes available.

L.A. Times story

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E-Poll: Donald Sterling is the most hated man in America

Results of a poll released Thursday by E-Poll Market Research identified shamed and lame-duck Clippers owner Donald Sterling as the most hated man in America.
According to a story on ESPN.com, Sterling was disliked by 92 percent of people polled who were familiar with Sterling.
The rest of the top 10 poll in order included Bernie Madoff (90 percent), O.J. Simpson (88 percent), Conrad Murray (Michael Jackson’s doctor, 88 percent), Justin Bieber (86 percent), Phil Spector (83 percent), Aaron Hernandez (Patriots tight end accused of three murders, 81 percent), Michael Lohan (father of Lindsay Lohan, 76 percent), Eliot Spitzer (former New York governor who resigned after being named in prostitution scandal, 73 percent) and Jon Gosselin (reality TV personality, 71 percent).
Sterling has been banned by the NBA for life for his now-infamous racist comments, particularly toward African-Americans.

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