Monday November 21, 2005 10:43 pm
NBA Pacific Division Turnaround
LA Clippers, Golden State, Phoenix, LA Lakers, Sacramento that is the current standings for the 05-06 season. What really strikes me is the overall change in philosophy by the Clippers and the Kings recently. Clipper owner, Donald Sterling generally has been regarded as one of the stingiest owners in the NBA, never ponying up for free agents, and not even retaining some of their own home grown talent. While the Maloof brothers in Sacramento, usually have been giving their players, fans and entire organization first class service. This year, it’s bizarro world for these two teams. The Clippers are no longer a pushover and Sac-town is turning into Sad-town.
This off-season, the Clippers upgraded at point guard acquiring Sam Cassell from the T-Wolves and actually signed free agent Cuttino Mobley. Cassell has always improved teams wherever he has been. Cassell has proven to be a clutch player in the playoffs, having success in Houston, Milwaukee (apart of the big three- Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson) and recently with the T-Wolves, finally helping KG out of the first round.
The Maloof brothers, now seem to be more interest being apart of the celebrity scene, especially their investment of the Palms resort in Las Vegas. While they have the final say in the teams personnel moves, this leaves GM Geoff Petrie working with his hands tied behind his back. Petrie has really worked some magic, earlier in the Kings run at a title. For example, trading Jason Williams for Mike Bibby, fleecing Chris Webber from the Wizards, drafting Peja Stojakovic in the middle of the 1st round under the radar, signing Vlade Divac, acquiring Cuttino Mobley for an aging Doug Christie. This year they are taking a page out of the old Clippers book, using the “it doesn’t matter if we are a bad team, we still make money” approach. Why bothering spending more money on players if it just takes money out of their pocket. It’s too bad they’ve taken this approach. The 2001-02 Western Conference Finals vs. the Lakers (the last of the Laker 3-peat) was the last real the rivalry the NBA has had.
The more recent trades have been at a point of disadvantage, trading to save money. The Chris Webber deal for role players Brian Skinner, Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson, was basically to wash out the 127 mil contract that expires in 2008. Knowing the time frame for winning an NBA Championship has come and passed they also cut loose Cuttino Mobley to free agency (to a division rival no less) meant they needed a two guard, and traded sixth man Bobby Jackson for Bonzi Wells. Basically the Kings are a 5 man rotation right now. Will the Kings retool or rebuild? All the while the Clippers must be asking: Is this for real this time?
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