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Clippers GM Frank: ‘We have to get back to honoring and respecting the regular season’

Kurt Helin and Corey Robinson debate what's next for the Clippers after Los Angeles' playoff exit, discuss the inconsistencies of officiating, and review some NBA awards.

The Clippers evaluated their season, looked at their stars playing 38 games and less than 1,000 minutes together, followed by an injury-riddled and short playoff run — the fourth time in four years that run ended early — and decided...

They are going to run it back, looking to win with a Kawhi Leonard and Paul George core.

While that may sound like an episode of “Really ?!? With Seth and Amy” to people outside Clippers HQ, it’s what they see as the best path. They are too far down this road to pivot. If you needed proof running it back the plan, Clippers president Lawrence Frank made it clear speaking to the media Thursday. His focus was more on being a better regular season team next season and then carrying that momentum over to the playoffs. Via Law Murray of The Athletic.

“We have to be honest with ourselves, and we have to look in the mirror. It starts with me. And we have to get back to honoring and respecting the regular season.”

That includes having Leonard back by the start of the season. Frank confirmed a torn meniscus and that Leonard was evaluating treatment options, but with a garden variety meniscus tear even the longest recovery would have him back for the start of training camp. Although with Leonard’s knee, is anything ever garden variety?

Frank stuck with his respect the regular season theme. Here’s a longer quote,
via Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times.

“I just think we need to compete harder every single night. I think we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to the fans. We want to be a championship organization and we have to invest deeper into the process. I mean, the last 28 years, the NBA champion has been a top-three seed. So you have to earn it, the regular season matters. And not that our guys don’t think it matters, but I just think we, all of us, starting with me, we can compete harder every day. We can hold each other accountable every day. And that’s what we have to do...

“As a team, in terms of what our goal is, we can compete harder in everything we do. We know we can.”

Leonard and George are under contract for $45.6 million apiece next season with a player option the season after that. Both are extension eligible this offseason and it leads to the question of whether the Clippers would offer an extension that would give them an extension for two seasons beyond the ones they have, essentially locking in four-year, $220 million contacts. If the Clippers don’t extend, both could walk away after next season. With a new CBA coming in that heaps more team-building punishments on teams more than $17.5 million above the tax line (which the Clippers are and would be), the organization has some hard decisions to make about a future direction.

Those decisions include the players around Leonard and George. That starts with Russell Westbrook, who Frank said he wants to return. After his play with the Clippers, Westbrook likely will have options, but he said he liked his experience with the Clippers and being in his native Los Angeles.

The Clippers set up a lot of players on their roster with contracts in the sweet spots for trades between $10 million and $20 million a season — Norman Powell, Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac, Terance Mann, Marcus Morris Sr. and Robert Covington. However, how much demand there is for those players, outside Mann, is up for debate. Eric Gordon has a $20.9 million team option for next season, and while Frank said he would like Goron to return it is unlikely they pick him up at that number. Frank and company need to find a way to inject more youth and athleticism into their rotation, which will not be easy under the restrictions of the salary cap.

But they will try because the Clippers are running it back.

And this time they will focus more on the regular season.