After years of playing second fiddle to the high profile L.A. Lakers, the Clippers are finally a major player in their own town and the rest of the NBA.
Fresh off their first playoff appearance since the 2005-06 season, the Clippers return their marquee players Blake Griffin and Chris Paul but they also have been very active in the off-season, looking to go farther than last year's second round.
The two all-stars Griffin and Paul are the straws that stir the Clippers' drink but the team surrounded them with more veteran options this summer, including forwards Lamar Odom and Grant Hill and guard Jamal Crawford.
The Clippers gave Odom a new lease on his NBA career after returning to Los Angleles following a failed run with Dallas. The multi-faceted 6'-11" Odom was sixth man of the year two seasons ago with the Lakers,averaging14 points and 8 assists, but his numbers crashed with Dallas as he put up only 6 points last season.
Odom was deactivated late in the season when Dallas felt his effort wasn't good enough. If Odom can find his game, he could really help the Clippers up front and take the pressure off Griffin.
Looking for depth at the small forward spot, the Clippers added swing man Grant Hill, signing him to a two-year deal. The soon-to-be 40-year-old Hill averaged 10 points and 4 rebounds for Phoenix last season and the Clippers think he still has a few good years left in him.
With former Wizards guard Nick Young headed to Philadelphia, the Clippers needed a shooter and they got it in signing free-agent Jamal Crawford to a three-year deal. Last season in Portland, Crawford averaged 14 points a game off the bench and will provide instant offense to the Clippers off the pine.
Aftermissingmost oflastseason with a knee injury, veteran guard Chauncey Billups signed a one-year deal to stick with the Clippers. Billups could start at the shooting guard spot like he did when he was healthy last year.
The Clippers also added two big men to back up D'Andre Jordan, with Ryan Hollins and former Wizard Ronny Turiaf coming on board.
Blake Griffin, who averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds last season, was extended this summer for 5 more years worth 95 million. Chris Paul -- who plays like he has the ball on a string -- put up 20 points and 9 assists last season and he will be a free-agent after this season, but the Clippers will do all they can to keep him.
The building blocks are there and the Clippers are building to be a legitimate contender for seasons to come.