Losing Collison is not the only problem the Clippers are facing

Darren Collison's move to the Kings is just the beginning of the Clips' challenges. (Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Darren Collison’s move is just the beginning of the Clips’ new challenges. (Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images)

At least it is basketball adversity now instead of You Know Who turbulence. But it’s still the Clippers in what could become an increasingly difficult time, wanting to take the next step after reaching the Western Conference semifinals last season but seeing offseason challenges all around them.

Thursday, backup point guard Darren Collison jumped to the Kings for a three-year deal worth a reported $16 million and, he told Dan Woike of the Orange County Register, because “Sacramento is giving me the keys to help this team and try to turn it around.” The Kings gave him a clear path to the starting job, in other words, an important consideration for Collison while understanding he would always be behind Chris Paul in Los Angeles, not to mention a development Isaiah Thomas will obviously keep in mind as a restricted free agent who just saw his job in Northern California given away again.

If it was Collison alone, the Clippers could take a deep breath and move ahead with the conviction that they simply were not going to spend more than $5 million a season for a reserve behind the best point guard in the world. As much as Collison helped a 57-win team, they could grab another free agent for less with master recruiter Doc Rivers. The Clips will wish him well on the payday and the opportunity they could not match.

But if this turns out to be one of several hits, obviously depending on the outcome at backup point guard, the Clippers will have a lot more to prove than whether they can get beyond the second round.

These are also the days of Pau Gasol considering Oklahoma City and San Antonio as free-agent destinations, even though it would mean a bigger pay cut than he was already facing. The defending champs getting Gasol on the cheap or the Thunder landing Gasol at a bargain rate — that’s a problem for the rest of the league in general and in particular anyone trying to come up on them in the crowded West. The Clippers, and the Rockets and the Trail Blazers and the Warriors, need Gasol to chase the money more than the ring.

Plus, the Clippers continue to search for help at small forward. They drafted Reggie Bullock in the first round in 2013, but he wasn’t ready and, based on the phone calls being fired off to free agents, still isn’t. They signed Danny Granger and Hedo Turkoglu for the stretch drive last season, but that was a patch job with little chance to last into 2014-15.

So they’re still looking. Maybe Paul Pierce, Rivers’ guy with the championship Celtics, maybe others through free agency or trade, but small forward is essentially unmanned, to where Collison knew that opening was impacting his own place with the team.

“I was a priority for them to sign, but I wasn’t the top priority,” Collison said told the Register. “And that’s understandable.”

A few days into free agency and the Clippers are confronted with several issues, trying to solve their own issues on the wing and now at backup point guard while taking a seat in the front row of the watch party on Gasol’s decision. They still have time and money, but if the offseason goes bad, they will also have a lot of doubts to answer as camp opens. That’s understandable too.

15 Comments

  1. harrythehawk says:

    Who seems to be making smart moves is Sacramento. I also heard they will try to get Rondo and J Smoove. Hmmmmm.

  2. jabari162002 says:

    As I mention yesterday, the L.A. Clippers will miss Collison next season. He was a great backup for CP3. I don’t know if everyone remembers, but the Indiana Pacers had him, and he was sensational for them. I’m not taking anything away from CP3, however, he is getting older, and it was a great compliment for him having a point guard like Collison to come in and give him minutes down the stretch. Like I said, the L.A. Clippers made a big mistake by letting him get away.

  3. jabari162002 says:

    As I mention yesterday, the L.A. Clippers will miss Collison next season. He was a great backup for CP3. I don’t know if everyone remembers, but the Indiana Pacers had him, and he was sensational for them. I’m not taking anything away from CP3, however, he is getting older, and it was a great compliment for him having a point guard like Collison to come in and give him minutes down the stretch. Like I said, the L.A. Clippers made a big mistake by letting him get away.

  4. jimbo says:

    Clippers, what is going on ? Collison could be had for the mid-level exception of $5.3M. He represents the future where Pierce and Deng are patches. Big mistake. The team is going the way of OKC the last two years. Bad start to the new season…

  5. UGOD30 says:

    Losing Crawford will not be that bad as he only adds offense. Deng is an upgrade as he can play both ways and this team is forced to make a move after being put out of the playoffs again. Now if they lose Crawford and collision that will be steps backwards. Honestly Deng and Jameer Nelson could replace them easily.

  6. Uriah says:

    Collision will be a good addition to the pacers or the mavericks. The clippers though they are talented will never win the West. Go to a team that can afford you and if pierce is the answer then they will be another 1st/2nd round exit.

  7. B Radd says:

    Defense?! Get Lance Stephenson. Monta and Lance would definitely make a dynamic pair.

  8. TheKush says:

    I think this is a good fit for Darren Collison

  9. Nick says:

    When it really counted – in the playoffs where every flaw is exposed, the Clippers failed to effectively and consistently move the ball. Collison, in my opinion did better than Paul in this area. I hope he gets a chance to continue to develop his game and become a starter.

    • Sam Reyes says:

      I agree on the coment, collison is growing a lot, im watching him since he was in Dallas and he can score and distribute the ball…. hope he still grows more and has more minutes in sacramento.

  10. c man says:

    have read other stories that Crawford was being dangled in order to get deng ,, another step back if this happens – would like deng but not for Crawford.

  11. WeAreOne says:

    Best option – get Deng from the Cavs. Have a good and peaceful night Fam.

  12. Douglas Veitch says:

    I think the only thing that many teams in the west is someone to temporarily stop Kevin Durant through-out games. I heard a report that Luol Deng could go to the Clippers. This would be a MUCH better option as Pierce might have to sit out some of the season also when Lebron or Durant come to visit they could isolate Pierce almost every position.

    That’s why I think you go for a Deng or Hayward someone who can defend and isn’t depended on for scoring. Deng because of his isolation defence and spot up shooting also he plays almost 48 minutes a game. Hayward because he is underrated and can help any team

  13. chuck osby says:

    sign paul pierce and jordon farmer as collison repacement , pierce as small foward replacement for barnes at that position lets go cllippers.

  14. Caldron Pool says:

    Darn, I was just thinking that if they could sign a very solid free agent SF and move barnes back to the bench they would be very solid with a bench of Collison/Crawford/Barnes. That would have just left the need for a solid bench bigman which they’ve not been able to find since Odom left.

    On the other hand, Clippers have opened up some decent salary space now. Realistically though, they don’t seem to be in the Melo hunt. Maybe they could make a run at Chandler Parsons and have a really good starting 5.