ESPN Insider Request: A New Era For The Clippers

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CTB MVP Champion
Age: 28
Posts: 15216
votes: 89 ... llmerclips

Someone please post this Very Happy

Clipper 6th Man
Posts: 125
votes: 2

Repped High Quality Post

The Donald Sterling saga is seemingly near a close, with confirmed reports of awinning bid from Steve Ballmer worth $2.0 billionto purchase theLos Angeles Clippers. It marks the end of a 33-year tenure that has seen more downs than ups; years of inept stewardship, mercurial behavior and a brand that stood for the laughingstock of professional sports. What does new ownership mean for the Clippers?

The purchase price

At $2 billion, the Clippers became the largest sale in professional sports history -- the Clippers! Ballmer ended up paying more than triple what he tried to pay to purchase theSacramento Kingslast year. Several factors play into the inflation of value (not the least of which is the desirability of the greater Los Angeles area as a market), but none greater than the simple concept of scarcity. A third of the teams in the league have been sold within the last five years, and half within the last 10 years. With each additional sale, there's one fewer owner willing to sell (after all, they bought it to fulfill their passion as sports fans, not to flip for a profit immediately), and the remaining unsold franchises rise in value.

Additionally, the impending negotiations for the new national TV deal mean a bigger windfall in terms of yearly revenues. Not much further beyond that is the specter of another lockout, which will no doubt be hastened along by the exorbitant sales that have taken place during this collective bargaining agreement.

How this makes the Clippers better on the court

In the short term, Ballmer's ownership does little to change the on-court product for the Clippers. As inept an owner as Sterling was, he green-lit spending for payroll to grow over the last few years, and they had a top-5 payroll and were over the tax threshold in 2013-14. With the cap and tax both expected to rise significantly for next year, the Clippers projected payroll for 2014-15 will be under the tax threshold, meaning they'll have access to mechanisms such as the non-taxpayer midlevel exception, and the ability to acquire players via sign-and-trade. I wrote about somepossible ways they could upgrade their roster, such as signing-and-trading forLuol Deng. Again, this isn't different than what they would have been able to do if Sterling were still in power, but we can safely assume that any haggling over how much to pay a player would have been greatly reduced.

The big way Ballmer changes Clippers basketball ops is with his investment in behind-the-scenes aspects. The NBA scouting operation has become a cutting edge arms race, and while Sterling OK'd paying more for players, other aspects still languished in terms of financial support. Expect more funding for staffing of the front office -- more scouting, more interns, perhaps more of an emphasis on quantitative analysis. Furthermore, expect more capital investment in technology. After all, Ballmer is the former CEO of Microsoft, with access to some of the brightest programming minds in the world. When it comes to everything from building of databases to analysis of raw SportVu data, expect the Clippers to be industry leaders fairly soon.

What this means for the Clippers' leaders

Noel Vasquez/Getty ImagesBallmer will bring along with him a sense of stability for the entire franchise.

The most obvious benefit is not working for a bigot, but beyond that, Ballmer's ownership gives a sense of stability to the entire operation. Despite having a strong roster and coaching staff, there was always a feeling of, "It's the Clippers; they'll find a way to mess that up," and that feeling stems from the instability in the owner's box. Look at the most consistently successful franchises in the NBA (San Antonio and Miami, among others), and the common thread they share is reliable ownership. Reliable not only in the sense of willingness to pony up the cash when needed, but also in even-tempered stewardship and allowing the experts put in place to do their jobs without excessive meddling.

Doc Rivers doesn't know if Ballmer is a Micky Arison or Peter Holt, but those owners know he's no Donald Sterling, and that's already a huge step in the right direction. Similarly,Chris PaulandBlake Griffindon't have to live with sinking fear that this will all come crumbling down at any moment because the owner is mercurial. There's a newfound sense of security.

What this means for theLos Angeles Lakers

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this sale has been the question, "If the Clippers are worth $2 billion, how much are the Lakers worth?" Today, they're probably worth more; the legacy of the franchise, the brand equity, the 16 championship banners that hang behind Clippers signage in Staples Center, and the Hall of Famers who have donned the purple and gold at one point or another still separate the Lakers from the Clippers. But make no mistake -- if the Clippers are going to take meaningful bites out of the Lakers' stranglehold on the L.A. market, the arrival of Ballmer signifies the acceleration of that process. Since the transfer of day-to-day control from Dr. Jerry Buss to his children, the Lakers have experienced a downward spiral. Their massive commitment to the aging (and injured)Kobe Bryant, in spite of rational decision-making, only hastens that decline.

In a strange way, the Clippers' stewardship the past few years resembles that of the Lakers -- a willingness to pay for the names on the marquee (players, head coaches), but not necessarily to invest in the infrastructure. Remember, the Lakers are the team thatfamously laid off employees during the lockout, including scouts, video coordinators, coaches and their assistant general manager, Ronnie Lester. That approach to investment in infrastructure will separate the two franchises from here on out.

The Clippers will never match the franchise accolades the Lakers boast, but in a society where bias is the law of the land and a short attention span is the norm, they might not need to. Each passing year where the Clippers are clearly better-run and feature a better on-court product will result in new fans every day. Sterling bought the Clippers 33 years ago, moved them to Los Angeles 30 years ago, then proceeded to mismanage them horrendously over most of that time. The arrival of Ballmer not only lights a fire under the Clippers. It lights a fire under the Lakers, who will have real, sustainable competition in their market for the first time.

CTB MVP Champion
Posts: 15216
votes: 89

Thanks a bunch. Repped.

Clipper All-Star
Posts: 1266

votes: 14

The infrastructure stuff is really interesting, and I suppose I should of thought of that earlier. Better scouts, analytics, etc. Move us into the forefront.

Clipper All-Star
Posts: 2004

votes: 1

Great article. Thank you for posting, Benny!

Clippers have gone from having the Clipper Curse to having the Clipper Charm. Awesome.

What a turnaround for this once woebegone franchise. More exciting times ahead for players and fans.

Posts: 7964

votes: 35

Yes, the clippers will get more scouting!

Clipper 6th Man
Posts: 125
votes: 2

Not a problem guys! I've had this samsung phone for 3yrs and finally learned (never needed to) how to copy and paste with my phone haha.

That said I'm excited and wearing my Clippers #backinblue cp3 jersey for sports day at workagain. Super stoked. Can't wait for this to get cleared so we can look forward to next season already.

Can't wait for better staff and hopefully branding (ie jerseys, logos, commercials, pregame intros)

Posts: 3480
votes: 11

Arash markazi wrote an article saying we should change the name. No thanks!!

CTB MVP Champion
Posts: 15216
votes: 89

Yay for Benny learning modern technology haha Smile. Really though I too didn't think of the boost to scouting/support staff that Donald was skimping on. It's amazing we have gotten as far as we have as a franchise WITHOUT those things.

Clipper Starter
Posts: 887
votes: 5

I like that Luol Deng tidbit.. off-topic but can you imagine having a decent option to defend KD & LBJ?




Blake/Big Baby


A lot of hypotheticals but in that ballpark would be special!

Posts: 4045
votes: 37

Sign and trade for Deng is interesting, not sure how that is planned to work out.

Posts: 2681

votes: 31

He'd have to take less than max for it to make sense #1 and #2 for us not to have to give up a core guy.

Dudley/Barnes/Bullock may be just enough to make salaries work if Deng would take 12mil instead of 15mil. Could be tough and that's assuming Cleveland is even interested in those guys (I wouldn't be lol).

Knowing their mindset and pressure from owner. They'd probably be salivating at the opportunity to bring in Jamal. Not sure if it's worth it from our end but they'd definitely be interested if he were involved.

I'd also try to take Waiters with Bullock/Willie/this year's pick. Again probably not enough but worth a shot.

Posts: 4510

votes: 22

From Clevelands perspective this may be worthwhile. Deng couldn't do much for the Cavaliers despite a talented squad they didn't make the playoffs. I'm sure they would rather get a prospect like Bullock than let Deng walk for nothing in return. also Dudley may not be a good player but with only two years left they could use him as an expiring contract.

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