Mirror Sports Writer
The Clippers aren’t in the NBA Western Conference playoff finals but they can look back on a memorable season.
Not only did the Clippers finish ahead of the Lakers, a testimonial to the progress they’ve made, but they won a playoff series for the first time in 30 years. The last time it happened they were located in Buffalo.
The Clippers suffered the same playoff fate as the Lakers, winning three games over the Phoenix Suns but losing a one-sided Game 7.
After the Clippers and their fans get over the disappointment of the final game loss, they’ll realize they covered a lot of ground.
They are now the best team to call Staples Center home, a theme they’ll no doubt promote in sales for next season. They went two rounds in the playoffs and the Lakers went one. They finished ahead of the Lakers in the 82-game regular season.
Clippers forward Elton Brand, who finished seventh in MVP voting, elevated his status in the playoffs. He carried the Clippers game after game and the nation saw how much he has improved.
As always, the Clippers’ future depends on how much owner Donald Sterling cares about keeping the team together. He presides over an organization that has been called the worst in professional sports. He’s been making better decisions in recent years and he has to make the right ones now.
Sam Cassell, the veteran guard who ranked right behind Brand in value, is a free agent. Rumors about his destination range from going back to Minnesota to join Kevin Garnett to signing with the Lakers, who need a savvy point guard with his leadership ability. If the Clippers don’t sign him they’ll take a giant step backward.
It’s time for the Clippers to give center Chris Kaman a multi-year deal with a large raise. If they don’t, someone else will.
Mike Dunleavy has lasted three years with Sterling, a long time considering the history of Clipper coaches. Extending his contract would show that Sterling knows he has the right man in that job.
Dunleavy once coached the Lakers into the NBA Finals. Considering he had Magic Johnson on that team, getting the Clippers into the playoffs and winning a series might be a greater feat.