Saturday, August 4, 2007
The LA Times is reporting that Clippers star Elton Brand will be out at least six months after injuring his Achilles tendon during his daily workout yesterday morning.
If that's the case, you can pretty much count the Clippers season over before it even starts.
Shaun Livingston, the 21-year-old oft-injured point guard that the Clips drafted fourth overall out of high school in 2004, is already on the shelf for next year (if not his whole career) with a devastating knee-injury he suffered while going for a breakaway layup in the first minutes of a home game last season against Charlotte.
The sad thing about L.A.'s other team is the fact that they were on the verge of something special just two seasons ago. L.A. made the second round of the playoffs in 2006, losing in seven games to the Phoenix Suns. They were a Raja Bell game-tying 3 away from going to the Western Conference Finals for God's sake, and now they're possibly a Derrick Rose/O.J. Mayo sweepstakes team. Sad.
It all started with that Bell three-pointer. The Clippers lost that series with their heads high, anxious for the 2006-2007 season. The team expected a breakout year from Livingston, who played significantly well during that playoff run. They expected the same great production from Brand, who was a top candidate for MVP in '06. Vet Sam Cassell was also supposed to provide the solid, consistent leadership the team needed.
The Clippers got none of the above. Livingston continued his up-and-down inconsistency that plagued his first two seasons until his season (maybe career) ending injury. Brand seemed fatigue from the summer's USA Basketball experience and started the season quite slowly. And Cassell was hurt all season and never got into a rhythm.
The team missed the playoffs (of course) and their revolution was over just like that. They went into the summer looking for an insurance policy for Livingston and more young talent. LA failed to sign any big name pgs (Steve Francis, Steve Blake, Mo Williams; and Jason Hart left for Utah), recently settling for former Bobcat Brevin Knight. They drafted Al Thornton in the first round. Good pick, but not exactly a priority.
So where do the Clips go from here? They have no go-to player or young point guard. Next year's draft class is expected to be loaded with top-flight pgs such as incoming college frosh Rose (Memphis) and Mayo (USC), Tywon Lawson (North Carolina), and others. Also, LA native Brandon Jennings (Oak Hill Academy, committed to Arizona) should be available in 2009.
The Clippers are the NBA version of my boy Brandon. Potential for greatness but horrible luck. And as soon as they start to show promise, something catastrophic happens and its back to square one.
Could the loss of Brand be that tragedy that sends the Clips back to the abysmal state they worked so hard to rise from?
I guess we will just have to see. But knowing their history, it doesn't look too good.