HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Clippers are an easy punchline when joking about the teams in the NBA that just can’t seem to get right.
But we’ll give them credit for being in the right frame of mind during the dog days of training camp.
They have a couple of youngster that keep the mood just right in DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, the first pair to deliver their entry for the best handshake of the season (it’s not nearly as entertaining/annoying as the Darius Miles-Quentin Richardson fists-to-the-forehead thing from way back, but it has potential on both fronts).
Granted, Clippers fans would love to see something more promising from their team this season than just a clever handshake routine. But hey, you’ve got to start somewhere, right?
It’s the time to get a first look at the biggest, newest headline stars in professional competition and a chance to mine some of still-hidden nuggets from the NBA Draft and beyond.
The Pro Summer League in Orlando begins on Monday and the NBA Las Vegas Summer League starts Friday and the competition east and west continues through July 18.
Last summer’s stint in Florida was a chance for Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook to shine and he used that as a springboard to help the Thunder make their first drive into the playoffs. Out west in Vegas, it was Blake Griffin, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft who gave the Clippers a look at his great potential before a training camp injury sidelined him for the season.
Who steps forward this year? The Celtics, Bobcats, Pacers, Nets, Thunder, Magic, Sixers and Jazz will play this week in Orlando, showcasing the No. 2 and No. 3 picks – Evan Turner and Derrick Favors – in the draft when Philadelphia and New Jersey lineup for their first game with their new teams on Monday night.
John Wall, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Draft, will make his debut on Sunday in Las Vegas when the Wizards face Golden State in their Summer League opener with a possible deliciously interesting head-to-head matchup against Stephen Curry, last season’s Rookie of the Year runner-up.
There are always plenty of unexpected tales to come out of the summer leagues. A year ago Anthony Randolph of Golden State was a sensation for the Warriors and second-round draft pick Chase Budinger gave a hot-shooting, slam-dunking preview of how he was he was going to carve himself out a spot in Houston’s rotation.
The NBA Development League Select Team will give some of the top talent from the D League a chance to show their stuff in Las Vegas, while veteran Darius Miles will continue his comeback bid to the NBA with the Bobcats in Orlando.
LOS ANGELES – Every time I hear someone yap about the best coaches in the business I think of a guy like Suns coach Alvin Gentry.
A head coach on four different occasions, including his latest gig coaching the Suns in the Western Conference finals, who’d have thought he would have a team in this position after the Clippers canned him after three seasons earlier this decade?
Luminaries like Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Larry Brown and Jerry Sloan tend to be immune to the debate, unless we’re talking about the best of the very best.
But when it comes to questioning who can and cannot handle the basics of the job, I love watching a guy like Gentry prove people wrong. (It’s hard to make lasting judgments about any coach after just one job. Unfortunately for so many of them, they can’t rely on multiple coaching lives.)
I loved Gentry’s style when he was coaching those young Clippers, when Lamar Odom, Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson made up the core of the roster. ESPN had a reality show that followed them around for an entire season (I think it was called The Season, if I remember correctly). It provided a great look inside a young team that was either going to stick together and turn into something or break apart and become … well, the Clippers!
Who knows what might have become of those Clippers had someone in charge decided to make sure they held it all together?