They are playing to try and save their season Friday night in Dallas.
They are playing to try and restore what credibility they thought they had
They are playing not to fall off the face of the earth again in postseason.
They are playing to not waste all the currency that their benevolent owner Steve Ballmer has invested in trying to build a basketball legacy in a town owned financially, emotionally, and physically by the crosstown Lakers.
LA Clippers basketball is an enigma.
Ownership lured two Californians home with big money deals, Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State) and Paul George (Frenso State)
Leonard has been brilliant virtually his entire career, but has been plagued by injury issues, and load management issues.
George, as explosive a shooter in the league, has been erratic in his mental approach to the game, wins, losses, leadership.
This has to work, the necessity to win right now, for Steve Ballmer allowed his front office to deal away all their first round draft picks until 2027.
Age and injury are mounting as part of the Leonard legacy. The personality traits seem to be plaguing George.
The franchise has dealt away some of the intangible things that made them great in the past group of years. Goodbye Shai Alexander, so long to Montrzl Harrel, and see ya Lou Williams.
It’s just not the same franchise right now as ownership hoped for.
They jettisoned coach Doc Rivers days after they were dumped in the playoffs by Denver last fall. They gave the head job to regarded Tyronn Lue, but he has not been able to get responses when he hits buttons.
Granted all those banners in the Staple Center are colored Purple & Gold saluting the Lakers, and true the Clippers haven’t gotten to a conference finals yet, despite the efforts of a quality owner, but they are not equals.
This is not the Donald Sterling era. No racists around the building now. No profiteers operating to pocket NBA profits. No Benoit Benjamins and some of the bums that used to wear Clipper colors.
Something is badly missing. Grit? Tough love leadership? Peer pressure from player to player? Team chemistry?
They better find it quick, for if they go down (3-0) in Dallas in this series, what comes after that will be awful.
Clippers at a crossroads for sure.