HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – With the Clippers, it’s always about the little things. Of course, that’s often because there aren’t a lot of big things.
But there was the announcement that L.A.’s little brother franchise had exercised its fourth-year contract option on Mr. Dunk-Over-the-Car Blake Griffin and also picked up options on Eric Bledsoe and Al-Farouq Aminu, who just completed their rookie seasons in the NBA.
Then over there in a separate release was the quiet mention that the club had also extended a qualifying offer to DeAndre Jordan, making him a restricted free agent.
Is it just a case of them taking care of the necessary details so that they wouldn’t lose the 22-year-old center without a fight? Or is it a clear sign that the Clippers are ready to move veteran big man Chris Kaman and take the next step in building something solid toward the future?
After starting just 25 games in his first two NBA seasons and getting little playing time under ex-coaches Mike Dunleavy and Kim Hughes, Jordan is coming off a breakout year for coach Vinny Del Negro where he averaged 7.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game and shot 68.6 percent from the field.
With amazing athleticism and a nose for going after the ball at both ends, Jordan is an outstanding complement to Griffin’s highlight reel dunks.
Let’s not forget that the clock is already — always? — ticking on the Clippers on their bid to build something permanent as the secondary tenants at the Staples Center. If there is going to be any hope of re-signing the potential All-Star combo of Griffin and Eric Gordon, the Clippers will have to put as much talent around them as possible in order to keep them at home.
If the Clippers were to fulfill any of the items in the rumor mill and send Kaman packing to Philadelphia for Andre Iguodala or Detroit for Tayshaun Prince and committing themselves to Jordan, it’s the kind of move that could allow them to take a big step up in the standings next season. There’s nothing like becoming a legitimate playoff team to show Griffin and Gordon that they’re for real this time.
What’s the verdict? Are they?