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2006 Pacific Division Preview: The Los Angeles Clippers

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We couldn't get a blogger or otherwise celebrated literary figure to preview the Los Angeles Clippers for us, probably because no one in the country really cares about the Clippers. Consider this a sad attempt at making sense of this season's Los Angeles White Sox:

-- Trading for Sam Cassell was the craziest NBA move of the summer, without doubt. People like to make fun of Elgin Baylor for his lack of a pulse in seeking free agents and trading partners (see: Bill Simmons). But damn, he would've smart to lay off after signing star shooter Cuttino Mobley.

Yeah, you want to get something for a talent like Marko Jaric. But that team needs a distributor, not a scorer. Brevin Knight or even Jason Hart would've been a much nicer fit at Staples - a pass-first, shoot rarely one with some defensive acumen. You've got Elton Brand, the most underrated power forward in the West. You've got Corey Maggette, a Paul Pierce-like swingman. You've got Cat Mobley, who will throw it up from anywhere on the court and sink it about 40 percent of the time.

Shaun Livingston is obviously the "point guard of the future" for the Clippers, and you need a veteran to either start while the kid develops, or provide lots of back-up minutes. And yeah, Livingston did happen to get himself injured in the preseason, making the Cassell acquisition a bit prescient. But still, Sam I Am isn't exactly the example you want to set for your 19-year-old point guard. The move seems wasteful and counterproductive to me.

(As a Kings fan, I'm happy they did it. As a basketball fan, it drives me bananas.)

-- While we're talking about Livingston, does anyone in the history of mankind have a higher afro-to-body-mass ratio? He should just schedule a neck injury at some point in his career - holding up that much puff has to be a chore for Shaun's vertebrae. It's like Shaq's feet or Dolly Parton's back. A disaster waiting to happen.

-- Here's something worth noting: The Clippers really have no place to call home. Even the Toronto Raptors have etched out a small section of the United States where their fans outnumber those from other teams. The Clippers? Nowhere. They share a gym with the crosstown rival; they don't represent a section of their home city like the White Sox; they don't represent a greater region like the New York Islanders or the Los Angels of Anaheim. Nothing. Nowhere. They represent no one. That's pretty sad. Who's against moving them back to San Diego?

(Note: The Clippers can take Fresno if they want; that lovely city falls in Kings territory according to CommonCensus, and I'm not sure the Cowbell Kingdom wants it. Feel free to go after the market, Sterling. It's, um, lucrative.)

-- The battle for the final Clippers roster spot is apparently between Boniface Ndong and Yuta Tabuse. Maybe the team can carve out a fanbase in Senegal or Japan. Who said Donald Sterling isn't a progressive thinker?

TZ's Prediction: It's very en vogue to say the Clippers are ready for the playoffs. I'm not ignoring that progressive position, just saying that the team took a step back this offseason. Mobley is potentially better than Bobby Simmons, but not as versatile. Cassell is wrong for this squad. One injury to Brand or Maggette and this team is D-U-N done. Even if everything goes right, is this team one of the best eight in the West? Nope. I say 40 wins, two spots out of the postseason. No All-Stars, no award-winners. And no one will care.