Steve Ballmer: Clippers should win a championship if they keep their ‘Big Three’ intact
The Clippers eliminated the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs in what was an epic seven-game series, but ended their season on a sour note after a second-round collapse against the Houston Rockets.
L.A. held a 3-1 series lead before seeing it all slip away, and the lack of depth in place on the roster was a big reason why.
Clippers owner Steve Ballmer believes the trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan should be good enough to win a title. But honestly, it just isn’t that simple.From Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:
“We believe we are very close. The key for us is not to blow things up.”
Start with the roster. Ballmer reiterated that the Clippers hope to re-sign potential free DeAndre Jordan — “We love D.J.” — and that with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, they have a title-worthy threesome.
“You have arguably three of the best 20 to 25 guys in the NBA,” Ballmer said. “You should be able to win it with three of the best 20 to 25 guys in the NBA. I don’t think you’ll find another team with three of the best 20 to 25 guys in the NBA.”
In the same piece, Ballmer puts a little bit of pressure on Doc Rivers the executive to improve the roster enough to where Ballmer’s statement can become truth instead of fiction.
The reality is that you need an extremely deep team to win a championship, and despite having Paul (second team), Griffin and Jordan (both third team) earn All-NBA status, this Clippers team had little to no help available when turning to their bench.
Jamal Crawford was there to provide offense, but the defense took a nose dive in lineups that featured him on the floor. Beyond that, there was only Austin Rivers, who (to put it mildly) was inconsistent, at best. That led to the Clippers being forced to play their stars heavy minutes in the postseason, and just as we saw with the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, short rotations come playoff time, when fatigue becomes a very real factor, are a recipe for disaster.
Jordan is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Clippers are on record as saying that they’ll offer him a max contract to entice him to stay. Keeping their so-called Big Three together is a fine start to L.A. becoming a championship contender. But they’ll need smaller tweaks to the roster (like the recent trade to acquire Lance Stephenson, for example) to ultimately pan out in order to achieve that elite level of success.