|Los Angeles Clippers|
San Diego Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers
|Location||Los Angeles, California|
Red, blue, black, silver, white|
|General manager||Michael Winger|
|Head coach||Doc Rivers|
|Affiliation(s)||Agua Caliente Clippers|
|Division titles||2 (2013, 2014)|
The Los Angeles Clippers, abbreviated by the team as the LA Clippers, are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles. The Clippers compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Western Conference Pacific Division. The Clippers play their home games at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, an arena shared with the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA, the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League (NHL).
The franchise was founded in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves, one of three expansion teams to join the NBA that year. The Braves moved from Buffalo, New York to San Diego, California in 1978 and became known as the San Diego Clippers. In 1984, the Clippers moved to Los Angeles. Through much of its history, the franchise failed to see significant regular season or playoff success. The Clippers were frequently seen as an example of a perennial loser in American professional sports, drawing unfavorable comparisons to the historically successful Lakers, with whom they have shared a market since 1984 and an arena since 1999.
The Clippers' fortunes turned in the early 2010s with the acquisition of core players Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Chris Paul. In 2013, the franchise won its first division title, as the team made the playoffs for the ninth time in franchise history and the third time in the previous eight seasons. They also added to their budding rivalry with the Lakers, as they finished with a better record than the Lakers for the fifth time and won the season series for the second time since moving to Los Angeles in 1984, this time in a sweep. They repeated as division champions in 2014.
The franchise began in Western New York as the Buffalo Braves, one of three NBA expansion franchises that began play in the 1970–71 season, along with the Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers. They played their home games at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, along with another Buffalo team that would begin play that year, the National Hockey League's Buffalo Sabres.
After two bad seasons, the Braves' fortunes started to change under coach Jack Ramsay and star forward/center Bob McAdoo. McAdoo led the NBA in scoring for three consecutive seasons and was named the league's MVP in the 1974–75 season. The Braves qualified for the playoffs three times in a row, losing twice to the eventual Eastern Conference champions (the Boston Celtics in 1974 and 1976, and the Washington Bullets in 1975). Despite the team's modest success in Buffalo, Braves owner Paul Snyder and the league found it impossible to schedule home games at the auditorium because the Canisius Golden Griffins men's basketball team, which had a pre-existing lease on the arena and priority on game dates over the Braves. The Griffins saw the Braves as a threat to their own success, and purposely scheduled all the best dates at the arena to prevent the Braves from succeeding. As a result, after a failed attempt to sell the team to an owner who intended to move it to South Florida, Snyder sold the team to Kentucky Colonels owner John Y. Brown, Jr., who decimated the team's roster, traded away all of its stars, and drove attendance down to the point where they could break their own lease on the arena. Eventually, Brown met with Celtics owner Irv Levin in 1978 so they could trade franchise ownerships. Southern California resident Levin then decided to move the Braves to San Diego, something the league would have never allowed him to do with the Celtics.
In 1978, San Diego welcomed the relocation of the Buffalo Braves franchise because the city had lost their Rockets to Houston seven years earlier. San Diego team officials did not think Braves was a representative nickname for the club and a contest decided on "Clippers", because the city was known for the great sailing ships that passed through San Diego Bay. When the Clippers moved to Los Angeles in 1984, they kept their name.
Playing at the San Diego Sports Arena, the Clippers posted a record of 43–39 in their first season in California under new head coach Gene Shue, leaving them two wins shy of the final playoff spot. It would be the Clippers' last winning season for 13 years. It was also in that first season in southern California that long-time announcer Ralph Lawler began his association with the franchise. The Clippers then began pursuing star free agents, beginning with World B. Free, who was acquired in the offseason from the Philadelphia 76ers. Free finished second overall in NBA scoring average, with 28.9 per game, while George Gervin of the San Antonio Spurs had a 29.6 average.
The 1979–80 season saw the Clippers begin to struggle, despite adding center Bill Walton, a San Diego native who was two years removed from an NBA Championship with the Trail Blazers. Walton missed 68 games due to foot injuries (which he also suffered in his final years in Portland). San Diego finished 35–47 as key players missed games due to injuries. Free again finishing second in league scoring, with 30.2 PPG. Paul Silas replaced Shue the following season, and the Clippers finished 36–46, again missing the postseason. Walton missed the entire season again due to foot injuries, while Free was traded to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for guard Phil Smith.
The 1981–82 season brought changes to the franchise as Levin sold the team to Los Angeles-area real estate developer and attorney Donald Sterling for $12.5 million. The Clippers' poor play and franchise mismanagement in their final years in San Diego resulted in an average of 4,500 fans a game, prompting Sterling to succeed in convincing the NBA to relocate the team to his native Los Angeles.
In 1984, the Clippers moved north to Los Angeles, playing at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. However, the move was not approved by the NBA, which fined Sterling $250 million. He sued the league for $100 million, but dropped the suit when the league agreed to decrease the fine to $6 million. The Clippers finished their first season in Los Angeles 31–51 under head coach Jim Lynam.
The Clippers' early days in Los Angeles were marred with many seasons of hapless performances. Despite fielding a squad of talented veterans, the organization suffered systematic injuries to many of its star players. The phenomenon was dubbed the "Clipper Triangle" by some sports writers. Derek Smith suffered a knee injury during the 1985–86 season, followed by Norm Nixon (knee) and Marques Johnson (spinal cord) the following season. The team's 12–70 finish in the 1987 season was the second-worst single-season record in NBA history at the time (and is now the third-worst winning percentage in NBA history, behind the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers and the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats). That same season also saw Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor join the team as the general manager and vice president of basketball operations. Nixon suffered an ailing Achilles tendon in 1987–88 season, while number one draft pick rookie Danny Manning injured his anterior cruciate ligament during the 1988–89 campaign.
The Clippers traded the rights to the recently drafted Danny Ferry and Reggie Williams for high-scoring shooting guard Ron Harper at the start of the 1989–90 season. Los Angeles had a 19–19 record nearly halfway into the season, prompting some to seriously consider the team as a possible playoff contender. That move, along with the 1987 NBA draft of Ken Norman, the 1988 draftings of Danny Manning and Charles Smith (Smith was acquired from Philadelphia in exchange for the draft rights to Hersey Hawkins), and the 1990 draft of Loy Vaught, formed a nucleus that would make the franchise a playoff contender.
Midway through the 1991–92 season, the Clippers made yet another coaching change. Larry Brown, recently fired by the San Antonio Spurs, was hired as the team's head coach in late January 1992. He replaced Mike Schuler, who had led the team to a 22–25 record before his firing. Brown finished the season with a 23–12 mark, for a 45–37 overall—the franchise's first winning season in 13 years. For the first time since moving to Los Angeles, they finished with a better record than the crosstown Los Angeles Lakers. The Clippers advanced to the playoffs for the first time in 16 years (since the franchise's Buffalo heyday), but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Utah Jazz, 3–2. Due to the late April 1992 Los Angeles riots, the Anaheim Convention Center was the site of Game 4 of the series, which the Clippers won. The team made the playoffs again in the 1992–93 season with a 41–41 record, but lost again in five games in the first round, this time to the Rockets.
Brown left to become the Indiana Pacers' head coach after the season and Bob Weiss was brought in to replace him. That 1993–94 season proved to be one of the worst in Los Angeles history, with the Clippers and Lakers going a combined 60–104. In February 1994, the Clippers traded Manning to the Atlanta Hawks for Dominique Wilkins. Wilkins played 25 games for the club, averaging 29.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 37.9 minutes per game. After one year on the job, Weiss was fired, Wilkins left in free agency, and veteran head coach Bill Fitch was brought in to guide a new roster of young and inexperienced players.
Anaheim, a suburb approximately thirty miles south of Downtown Los Angeles in affluent Orange County, expressed interest in obtaining an NBA franchise. The city, expecting to lose the NFL's Los Angeles Rams (who relocated to St. Louis in 1995 for 21 seasons, before moving back to Los Angeles in 2016), was looking for a new professional team and began courting the Clippers, who struggled carving out an identity competing against the popular Lakers for audience share. From 1994 to 1999, the Clippers played several games annually (usually five to eight regular season games a season, and an annual preseason game) at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, sharing the venue with the NHL's Ducks and the Splash indoor soccer team. Clippers games regularly drew a much-higher average attendance per game at the Pond than when the team played its home games at their regular venue, the Los Angeles Sports Arena; the Anaheim games proved so popular that many Clippers players and much of the fan base, as well as the NBA, wanted to the team to stay in what was considered at the time a state-of-the-art arena. For instance, between 1994 and 1997, the Clippers drew an average of nearly 16,000 fans per game at the Pond, while in Los Angeles, they drew in the neighborhood of 9,200 per home game. Anaheim officials and the Clippers had had on-going talks about moving to Anaheim full-time years before the Pond was eventually built, as Donald Sterling was pursuing options to play elsewhere in the Los Angeles metropolitan region if there was not a replacement for the Sports Arena being built.
The Clippers, however, nearly moved to Anaheim permanently in time for the 1996–97 season, but according to a Los Angeles Times article published in June 1996, owner Donald Sterling turned down a deal that would have paid the team $95 million over 12 years. Odgen Corporation, who at the time managed the Pond, and the city of Anaheim offered the Clippers a multi-tiered deal that would have included upwards of $33 million paid to the team over the first six years of their Pond agreement, plus other monies allocated towards new locker rooms, team offices, and a practice facility. In another related Times article, Odgen and Sterling were in talks to have the management company take care of the Clippers' day-to-day operations for a $4 million a year fee. Also at the time, the Walt Disney Company, owners of the Ducks and Anaheim Angels baseball team during that period, were pursuing at least a partial ownership of the Clippers, with the key element being that its game telecasts would be part of a planned ESPN regional network for Southern California. However, as the planned ESPN West network never came to reality, all three teams had continued to maintain broadcast partnerships with Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket. This remained a sticking point in any deal to relocate to Anaheim, eventually leaving the team to remain in Los Angeles.
On the court, the Clippers continued to make frequent roster changes throughout this particular period, which only resulted with one playoff appearance under Fitch. Along with Loy Vaught, a collection of young players (including Lamond Murray, Eric Piatkowski, and Lorenzen Wright), and journeyman veterans (among them Pooh Richardson, Tony Massenburg, Rodney Rogers, Darrick Martin, and Brian Williams), the Fitch-coached teams during this particular era struggled mightily, although they did make the playoffs once during this time. The 1996–97 team made the playoffs with a losing record (36–46) and were swept in the first round by the eventual Western Conference Champion Utah Jazz, three games to none.
Four members of the 1996–97 squad are now deceased. Malik Sealy died in a car accident in 2000, Kevin Duckworth died of heart disease in 2008, Lorenzen Wright went missing and was murdered in 2010, and Dwayne Schintzius died from cancer complications in 2012. Two other players from the Fitch era suffered tragic circumstances of their own; Brian Williams (who played for the Clippers during the 1995–96 season, and later became known as Bison Dele) was believed to have been murdered by his brother while the two were vacationing in 2002 while in the South Pacific, and Rodney Rogers became paralyzed after a dirt bike crash in 2008 in his native North Carolina.
In December, Vaught, the team's leading scorer for the past three seasons, had season-ending back surgery. Without Vaught, the Clippers finished 17–65, the third-worst record in the league. Fitch was fired after the 1997–98 season (and later sued the team to recover the remaining money on his contract), and was replaced by one of his proteges, former Celtics and Bucks coach Chris Ford. Meanwhile, Vaught's career as a Clipper was effectively finished, as he left as a free agent after that season, and signed with the Detroit Pistons; at the time of his departure, he was the franchise's all-time rebounds leader with 4,471 (a number that was later surpassed by Elton Brand, with 4,710).
The Clippers won the first overall pick in the 1998 Draft Lottery and selected center Michael Olowokandi from University of the Pacific. The team had a 0–17 start and finished with a 9–41 record in the shortened 1998–99 season. They were led by second-year forward Maurice Taylor, who averaged 16.8 points per game, and won the fourth overall pick in the following draft, which coincided with their move to the Staples Center. The Clippers would draft Lamar Odom, and then hired former All-Star (and Los Angeles native) Dennis Johnson as an assistant coach, as well as Hall of Fame former Laker great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to help tutor Olowokandi during his second-year. Johnson remained an assistant coach until the middle of the 2002–03 season, when he took over as head coach. Abdul-Jabbar remained only one season, detailing a lack of improvement in Olowokandi, who is largely considered one of the biggest draft busts in league history.
During the 1999 offseason, Rodney Rogers signed with the Phoenix Suns. The Clippers also sent Lamond Murray to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Derek Anderson and Johnny Newman. However, Newman was then traded to the New Jersey Nets for Eric Murdock a month later without ever playing a game for the Clippers. The team finished with the worst record in the league (15–67) in the 1999–2000 season, while the Lakers had the best record that year (67–15).
In what was supposed to be a counter-move, the Coliseum Commission, the management entity that managed the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and Coliseum, had planned to build a new 18,700-seat arena in the parking lot next to the Sports Arena that would have cost up to $94 million, that would have included 1,100 club seats, 84 luxury suites, and an on-site practice facility for the Clippers. However, those plans were scuttled once planning for Staples Center (two miles directly up the street from the Sports Arena) were taking place, and the Clippers decided to become a tenant at Staples.
In 1999, the Clippers joined the Lakers and Los Angeles Kings in the new Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles. In sharing the building with other tenants, such as the more popular Lakers, the Clippers, with relatively low success, were often overshadowed. Also, because of the terms of its leasing agreement with Staples Center, the Kings and Lakers had scheduling priority over the Clippers, with the Clippers taking whatever dates that were available, including scheduling same-day Clipper-Laker and Clipper-King doubleheaders. However, in the years after, the Clippers' scheduling at Staples Center became gradually more favorable (especially given the popularity of the team in recent years) in their lease renewals in 2004 and 2013, with the team receiving increased profits, including more of a share of luxury suite and concession revenue. Since February 2011, the Clippers have sold out every regular season and post-season home game, behind the popularity of stars Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Chris Paul.
The 2000–01 season brought changes. Derek Strong was sent to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Corey Maggette and the draft rights to Keyon Dooling. The Clippers' two draft picks that year were childhood friends from Illinois: high schooler Darius Miles (3rd overall pick) and Quentin Richardson (18th overall pick). The team became popular among fans with its high-flying style of basketball and the Clippers did improve slightly, registering a 31–51 record. The team also lead the NBA in bench-scoring, with 37 points per game.
To improve upon the previous season, the Clippers acquired high-scoring and rebounding power forward Elton Brand from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for the draft rights to Tyson Chandler. Brand earned a spot on the 2002 NBA Western Conference All-Star team as an injury replacement for Shaquille O'Neal. The Clippers contended for most of the season, but won only 3 of the last 12 games and finished 39–43, five games out of the playoffs. In order to seriously challenge for playoff contention in 2003, the franchise traded Miles to the Cavaliers for Andre Miller, who led the NBA in assists in 2001–02 with 11 per game. With a seasoned point guard in Miller, Lamar Odom at small forward, one of the league's best power forwards in Brand, and center Olowokandi, as well as having the best supporting cast in the league, the Clippers threatened a potential playoff run. However, poor team chemistry and injuries (the Clippers lost 293 man-games to injury), they finished with a disappointing 27–55 record. Coach Alvin Gentry was also replaced, with Dennis Johnson entering midway through the 2002–03 season.
After the dismal season prior, the team lost several of its core players, with Miller, Odom, Olowakandi, and forward Eric Piatkowski (who was one of the longest-tenured players in franchise history) departing via free agency prior to the 2003–04 season. The team opted to retain Brand and Maggette with long-term contracts. They, along with Richardson, made up one of the NBA best high-scoring trios, with a combined 58 points per game. With new head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr., they finished 28–54, due to inexperience and injuries. The following season again saw the team missing the playoffs, although, they posted a better record than the Lakers for the first time since 1993. Bobby Simmons, a former second-round pick, won the 2004–05 NBA Most Improved Player award after averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. As a result, Simmons signed a 5-year, $47 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks. To counter Simmons' defection, the Clippers announced they would sign Cuttino Mobley. Mobley's contract was identical in length, but for five million less than Simmons', and marked the first significant free agent signing from outside the organization since Walton in the late 1970s. The Clippers also completed the building of a practice facility (the first NBA practice facility within the four corners of the City of Los Angeles) in the Playa Vista development. Midway through the season, the Clippers traded Marko Jarić (in a sign and trade transaction) and Lionel Chalmers to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Sam Cassell and a lottery-protected 1st round pick in the 2006 NBA draft.
The 2005–06 season was a turning point for the team's image; marked by several wins over top teams, Brand's performances were greatly praised, and he was chosen for the All-Star Game. Many sports writers noted the team's improvement, especially after acquiring sharpshooter Vladimir Radmanović from the Seattle SuperSonics in exchange for big-man Chris Wilcox. While the team had a few stretches of poor play, they were able to maintain a solid record, including posting several winning streaks. They achieved their first winning record in 14 seasons, and clinched their first playoff spot since 1997. They also finished with a better record than the Lakers for the second straight year. By finishing sixth in the Western Conference, with a record of 47–35 (their highest finish since the team left Buffalo), they benefited from the current NBA playoff format of regular season records taking precedence over winning the division, and secured home court advantage over the Denver Nuggets.
On April 22, 2006, the Clippers won their first NBA playoff game in 13 years. Two days later, they won their second playoff game, going 2–0 against an opponent for the first time in franchise history. They lost Game 3, won Game 4, and on May 1, they won Game 5 in Los Angeles. This would mark their first playoff series win since they moved from Buffalo. In the next round, the team faced the Phoenix Suns. After losing a close Game 1, they won Game 2, 122–97. The series shifted to Staples Center for Game 3, but the Suns won, 94–91. In Game 4, Brand posted 30 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists as the Clippers evened the series. In Game 5, Raja Bell made a key 3-pointer for the Suns with 1.1 seconds left in the first overtime to send the game into a second overtime. However, Phoenix won in double-overtime, 125–118. They bounced back with a series-saving 118–106 Game 6 win. Second-year defensive specialist Quinton Ross had a timely offensive game, scoring a then career-high 18 points. Brand had 30 points (his scoring average in this series), 12 rebounds, and five blocks. Corey Maggette came off the bench to score 25 points, with 7–8 shooting from the field, and 9–9 from the free throw line. Kaman and Cassell each scored 15 points. However, the Clippers lost the seventh game, 127–107. General Manager (and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member) Elgin Baylor won the NBA Executive of the Year award for leading the Clippers' playoff run.
The 2006 off-season started as the team drafted Paul Davis in the second round of the 2006 NBA draft, as the 34th overall pick. The pick was acquired by the Clippers by way of a 2004 trade for Melvin Ely. The team also drafted Guillermo Diaz as the 52nd overall pick. While Davis signed with the team, Diaz decided to play overseas. However, the team still holds his draft rights. Meanwhile, in free agency, they signed Tim Thomas away from divisional Phoenix, in a four-year, $24 million deal. That was to counter the defection of Vladimir Radmanović to the Lakers in a similar deal. Radmanovic's contract lasted another year, but both players would make the same amount of money annually, which would be $6 million. Cassell (widely credited as the biggest reason for the Clippers' recent success) re-signed on a two-year, $13 million deal, while the team also signed veteran Aaron Williams to an undisclosed deal.
In September, the Clippers also announced a radio broadcast deal with KSPN-AM, the local ESPN Radio-operated outlet. Despite several additions, the team did not perform to expectations, with a lack of team chemistry and injuries to several key players, including Cassell, Thomas, and Kaman, forcing the team to sign journeymen Luke Jackson, Alvin Williams, and Doug Christie to help solidify the team's bench. The season disappointment extended as Shaun Livingston suffered a dislocated left knee in which he tore every ligament in his knee. This was one of the most devastating injuries that season, and considered one of the worst in league history. The extent of the injury was so severe, local news outlets such as KCBS-TV/KCAL-TV and KNBC-TV elected not to air the clip of the injury. According to the team's lead physician, Dr. Tony Daly, Livingston's prognosis for him to return to basketball activity was eight months (which was around the first week of the upcoming season) to a full calendar year. The Clippers finished the season 40–42, 2 games behind the 8th-seed, while the Lakers finished with a better record for the first time since the 2003–04 NBA season. The Clippers received the 14th draft pick from the NBA lottery in the 2007 NBA Draft, selecting Al Thornton.
The 2007–08 season started off negatively, with Brand rupturing his left Achilles tendon. Brand missed most of the season, and the team struggled to stay competitive. Chris Kaman took advantage of a depleted roster by averaging 15.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game, but was limited to playing 56 games, also due to various injuries. The Clippers ended the season 23–59, and the team aimed to rebuild for the following season. Both Brand and Maggette were allowed to depart, while ten players were acquired. Brand's stated his desire to stay, but contract faltered, allowing him to move to the Philadelphia 76ers. Baron Davis, a Los Angeles native and formerly of the Golden State Warriors, signed a five-year contract with the Clippers, worth an estimated $65 million. In the upcoming draft, the Clippers obtained the 7th pick, and selected Eric Gordon. They also selected DeAndre Jordan, who was picked 35th overall. Mike Taylor, the 55th overall pick, was acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for a future second-round pick.
In July 2008, they acquired Marcus Camby from the Denver Nuggets in return for a $10 million trade exception and the choice to exchange second round picks with the Clippers in 2010. The Clippers also acquired guard Jason Hart from the Utah Jazz, in exchange for guard Brevin Knight, and signed Ricky Davis to a one-year deal. They continued an active offseason by re-signing former Clippers player Brian Skinner in July, while trading for Steve Novak. The team would also sign Jason Williams to a one-year deal. However, just prior to the start of training camp in September, Williams announced his retirement. Other mid-season acquisitions came in the form of Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins, who arrived from the New York Knicks in exchange for Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley. This trade made Kaman the sole member still on the team from their playoff run two years prior.
In October 2008, Baylor ended his 22-year reign as Vice President and General Manager of basketball operations. It remains one of the longest tenures in professional sports history. The Clippers indicated that Baylor had retired from his post, and as a result, head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr. assumed the role of General Manager, while director of player personnel Neil Olshey was promoted to assistant general manager. However, several other reports indicated Baylor had been fired or resigned, and when questioned, Baylor responded he had been advised by his attorneys not to comment on the matter. This prompted speculation that the team and Baylor were in negotiations to work out a settlement agreement for his departure, with Baylor reportedly working without a formal contract since the early 1990s.
With the first overall pick, the team selected Blake Griffin. To clear a spot in the lineup for him, they traded Zach Randolph to Memphis for Quentin Richardson. Richardson was then traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Sebastian Telfair, Craig Smith, and Mark Madsen.
Griffin immediately impressed in training camp and preseason. On October 23, he broke his kneecap during the Clippers' final exhibition game against the New Orleans Hornets, following a dunk. Initially, the Clippers' stated that he only had a sore left knee, which would make him questionable for the season opener the following night, before they revealed the break. The injury sidelined Griffin for the entire season.
On February 4, 2010, head coach Mike Dunleavy resigned, and Kim Hughes was named interim coach. Dunleavy retained his front-office title and duties for just over a month, but on March 10 he was fired as General Manager, being replaced by Neil Olshey. Dunleavy received the news of his dismissal from the internet, as well as friends and reporters calling his cell phone. The Los Angeles Times reported that Dunleavy had filed for arbitration and that the Clippers had cut off his salary, even though his guaranteed contract did not end until after the 2010–2011 season. Although the Clippers saw minor improvement, finishing with ten more wins at 29–53, Hughes was fired as head coach at the end of the season.
In July, former Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro was hired as the next head coach. In August, the team introduced new uniform designs at a photo shoot, at the team's practice facility. Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, who saw significant improvement in his two years with the team, modeled the new uniforms, which were re-designed for the first time since the 2000–01 season. The Clippers' primary and secondary logos, which are modifications of the previous ones, were introduced to the public weeks earlier, on the night of the 2010 NBA draft, where the Clippers selected Al-Farouq Aminu 8th overall.
With an improved Gordon, stalwart Kaman, rookie Aminu, starting center Jordan, a re-energized Baron Davis, and the debut of Griffin, the Clippers had high hopes for the season. However, they started slowly, losing ten of the first 11 games, with Davis and Kaman out with injuries. However, the Clippers showed strength when three of their first four wins came from the top teams in the Western Conference. Griffin got off to a strong start, drawing increased media attention in Clippers games and boosting ratings of local broadcasts of Clippers games. Griffin was chosen as a Western Conference Reserve in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game, a rare honor for a rookie, the first chosen by the coaches for the game since Tim Duncan in 1997. He also won the NBA Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, and was named the Rookie of the Year as the team finished with a record of 32-50. As the trade deadline approached, the Clippers sent Baron Davis along with their 2011 first round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. The pick eventually became the number one overall pick, which the Cavaliers used to select Kyrie Irving.
In December 2011, the Clippers signed Caron Butler to a $24 million deal and claimed veteran point guard Chauncey Billups three days later. On December 14, they traded Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and Minnesota's 2012 first-round pick acquired in 2005 for New Orleans Hornets' four-time all-star Chris Paul. Paul had previously almost been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, but NBA commissioner David Stern had vetoed the trade. Paul and Griffin were selected as starters for the Western Conference team in the 2012 NBA All-Star Game, the first time in franchise history the team had two All-Star starters in the same year.
The team gained the nickname "Lob City" due to a comment made by Griffin during the Clippers Media Day when the announcement of Chris Paul's trade reached the team. Griffin, after being told the news by Jordan, declared, "Yeah! It's going to be lob city!"
In February 2012, the Clippers signed Kenyon Martin. An 11-year NBA veteran and former NBA All-Star (2004), Martin joined the Clippers after signing with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association the previous summer. On February 6, 2012, during a game against the Orlando Magic, Billups tore his Achilles tendon and missed the remainder of the season. In March 2012, Nick Young joined the Clippers as part of a three-team trade with the Washington Wizards and the Denver Nuggets. He became the eighth player to debut in the 2011–2012 season.
After a stretch that saw the Clippers lose 12 of 19 games after Billups's season-ending injury, with rumors of Vinny Del Negro's career as head coach of the Clippers possibly coming to an abrupt end, Los Angeles went on a tear. The Clippers won 12 of their next 14 games, including road wins over the defending champion Dallas Mavericks and the Western-Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder, clinching their fifth playoff berth since their 1976 conference semi-finals loss to the Boston Celtics (the last time they made the playoffs as the Buffalo Braves) before a dominating home win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on April 16, 2012. It was their third win in four regular season games against the Thunder. Chris Paul's push for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award was at its peak, and the 2011–12 season was the first time the Clippers were in the playoffs since 2005–06 season.
In their first playoff game, the Clippers rallied from a 27-point deficit against the Grizzlies to win 99–98 in one of the biggest rallies in playoff history. They led the series 3–1, then lost two straight, before coming back to win Game 7 in Memphis 82–72, becoming the 6th NBA road team to win Game 7 after leading series 3–1, and prevail to the second round. The Clippers relied on their bench during that game, and they came through, scoring all but two of their points in the fourth quarter. In the second round of the playoffs, the team was swept by the San Antonio Spurs. The following off-season, GM Neil Olshey reached an agreement to become General Manager of the Portland Trail Blazers. Olshey was replaced by Gary Sacks. On draft night, the team re-acquired Lamar Odom from the Dallas Mavericks as part of a four-team deal that also sent Mo Williams and Furkan Aldemir, their 2012 draftee, to the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets, respectively. The team then sent Reggie Evans to the Brooklyn Nets for the right to swap second-round draft picks with the Nets in the 2016 NBA draft. On the same day, the Clippers signed free agent Jamal Crawford, formerly of the Portland Trail Blazers, and re-signed Billups to a one-year deal. The franchise then rounded out its roster for the upcoming season with Grant Hill, Ryan Hollins, and Ronny Turiaf, while signing Matt Barnes to a one-year deal early in the season.
On November 29, 2012, public address announcer David Courtney died in hospital, and was replaced by former Clippers and current Los Angeles Dodgers PA announcer, Eric Smith. On December 15, with a 111–85 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, the Clippers recorded their record ninth consecutive win, breaking their previous franchise record (in Los Angeles) of eight wins set in the 1991–92 season. On December 21, with a 97–85 win over the Sacramento Kings, they notched their twelfth consecutive victory, breaking their previous 11-game streak as the Buffalo Braves in the 1974–75 season. On December 30, the Clippers recorded a team-record 17th straight win against the Utah Jazz, beating them 107–96. The win also made the Clippers the third team in NBA history to record an undefeated month ending the month of December 16–0. The streak ended when they lost to the Denver Nuggets on January 2, 2013.
On January 9, 2013, with a 99–93 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, the Clippers recorded another franchise record with their 13th straight home victory. On January 12, the Clippers 13 game home win streak came to an end with a 104–101 loss to the Orlando Magic. A 126–101 victory over the Phoenix Suns saw the Clippers reach the 50-win mark for the first time in franchise history, breaking their previous mark of 49 from 1975–76, when they were in Buffalo. On April 7, with a 109–95 victory over the Lakers, they swept the LA season series, and clinched their first division title in franchise history. They would finish the season with a 56–26 record, and entered the playoffs as the 4th seed, to once again face the 5th seeded Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers would go up 2–0 early in the series after a buzzer beater by Chris Paul in game 2. After being up 2–0 in the series, the Clippers would lose 4 games in a row to be eliminated the first round. This caused the team to not renew Vinny Del Negro's contract as head coach, and acquired Doc Rivers from the Boston Celtics. The deal was announced to have included two future first-round draft picks, in addition to an anti-trade clause preventing the Clippers and Celtics from engaging in further transactions amongst each other, including the exchanging of players, for the duration of the 2013–14 season.
On July 3, 2013, the Clippers traded Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler to the Phoenix Suns for Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick (from the Milwaukee Bucks). The Clippers and Suns also sent a second round pick each to the Bucks. On July 7, the team re-signed Barnes, Paul, and Ryan Hollins. Paul's deal was for 5 years, worth around $105.3 million. The team also signed Darren Collison to fill the back-up point guard role, replacing Bledsoe and free agent Chauncey Billups, who signed with the Detroit Pistons. On August 28, the Clippers signed free agent power forward Antawn Jamison to a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum. Jamison only appeared in 22 games, and was eventually traded to the Atlanta Hawks on February 20, 2014 in exchange for the draft rights to Cenk Akyol. On December 19, 2013, the Clippers signed free agent small forward Stephen Jackson. Jackson also appeared sporadically, and was eventually waived on January 7, 2014. On January 16, the Clippers signed free agent small forward Hedo Türkoğlu, while also acquiring both Glen Davis and Danny Granger for the remainder of 2013–2014 season. On March 6, the Clippers defeated their crosstown rivals by 48 points 142–94, the most lopsided victory ever for the Clippers' franchise, and the most one-sided losses in Lakers history. On April 15, the Clippers broke the franchise record of wins with 57. In the playoffs, they defeated the Warriors in seven games before falling again, this time to the Thunder, in six games in the second round.
On April 25, 2014, entertainment news website TMZ released a taped conversation in which team owner Donald Sterling – who had a history of accusations of racist behavior against African Americans and Latinos dating back to the 1990s – reprimanded V. Stiviano (of African American and Mexican heritage, who had reportedly been dating Sterling while he was estranged from wife) for posting an Instagram photo featuring her, former Los Angeles Lakers point guard Magic Johnson, and another woman. Sterling stated that it bothered him that she had "broadcast that [she is] associating with black people", and that he did not want Stiviano to bring them to the team's games. The remarks in the tape caused public backlash (including condemnations from many players, with Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant all voicing their disapproval); several sponsors also severed ties with the team, among them Kia Motors (for whom Griffin serves as its television spokesperson), State Farm Insurance, and Virgin America. Threats of boycotts against the Clippers were also considered, with the team itself briefly contemplating one at the April 27 playoff game against the Golden State Warriors (the fourth game in the team's first round playoff series). They opted to conduct a silent protest instead, by wearing their shirts inside-out, obscuring team logos.
On April 29, the NBA issued Sterling a lifetime ban from the organization after a league investigation into the recording confirmed that he was the one conversing with Stiviano. The league also issued a $2.5 million fine against Sterling (the highest allowable by the NBA) and barred him from attending games or practices involving any NBA team; being present in any Clippers office or facility; and from participating in any team business, player personnel decisions or league activity. NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated in a press conference regarding the decision that he will try to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, which would require the consent of ¾ of the league's 29 other team owners. Silver later announced that the NBA would appoint a CEO to run the team. Before the ban was issued, Sterling told Fox News contributor Jim Gray that he had no plans to sell the team. The NBA installed former Citigroup and Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons as the interim CEO of the team on May 9, prior to allowing Steve Ballmer, a former CEO of Microsoft, to purchase the team for $2 billion. To buy the team, Ballmer reportedly beat out other candidates, including Oprah Winfrey, Floyd Mayweather, Magic Johnson, as well as a group of crowdfunders. The team's sale price, which was four times the expected purchase-evaluated price, prompted speculation that Ballmer aimed to relocate the team to Seattle, his hometown. He had previously been a part of an ownership group that had unsuccessfully attempted to move the Sacramento Kings to that city, but later stated no intention to relocate the team.
On August 12, 2014, Ballmer officially took control of the team following an order by a California court that confirmed the sale from Shelly Sterling to Ballmer. As part of the deal, Shelly received the titles of "Owner Emeritus" and "Clippers' Number 1 Fan", as well as ten tickets in sections 101 or 111 for all Clippers games, two courtside tickets for all games in Los Angeles, six parking spots in Lot C for each game, 12 VIP passes that include access to the Lexus Club, Arena Club, or Chairman's Lounge and Media room or equivalent, for each Staples games, three championship rings following any Clippers title, and will run a charitable foundation. The deal also included a stipulation that Steve Ballmer would keep the Clippers in Los Angeles. On November 6, the team hired its first major female executive as former Auto Club Speedway president Gillian Zucker was hired as the Clippers' president of business operations. Zucker became one of two women to serve in an executive capacity in any of the four major professional sports leagues; the other being Jeanie Buss, president and part-owner of the crosstown Lakers.
The Clippers first regular season under Ballmer's ownership ended with a 56–26 record and the #3 seed in the Western Conference going into the 2015 NBA Playoffs. They met with the defending the NBA champions, San Antonio Spurs. The series went a full 7 games, and with 1 second left, Chris Paul hit the clutch game-winning shot to advance Los Angeles into the Western Conference Semi-Finals. In the next series, they matched up against the #2 seeded Houston Rockets. The Clippers would build a 3–1 series lead that included 25 and 33-point wins in games 3 and 4, respectively. However, Houston would rally and win the final 3 games to prevent Los Angeles from making their first ever appearance in the Conference Finals, including a 40–15 run in the 4th quarter in game 6 to force a game 7 after being down by 13 points in the 3rd quarter. This defeat prompted several moves from the front office in the off-season, as it indicated the team was close to competing. On June 15, 2015, the Clippers acquired Lance Stephenson from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes. In the 2015 NBA draft, the Clippers acquired Branden Dawson from the New Orleans Pelicans for $600,000. However, Jordan's future with the team remained speculative, as he agreed a 4-year, $80 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks. The team then convinced him to re-sign to a 4-year, $87.7 million extension on the last day of the moratorium period. Additionally, the Clippers signed small forward Wesley Johnson, and forward Paul Pierce to a 3-year, $10 million deal. Austin Rivers also re-signed, agreeing to a three-year, $34 million deal. After again missing out on playoff success in 2016, the Clippers finished the 2016–17 season with a 51–31 record, the team's fifth straight 50-win season, despite injuries to both Griffin and Paul during the regular season. The Clippers were able to finish the season strong, winning their last 7 games to achieve the 4th seed by defeating the Sacramento Kings in the final game of the season. This game also marked the last game of Pierce's career. The Clippers faced off against the Utah Jazz in the First Round of the playoffs, but lost in seven games.
After another instance of playoff disappointment, Paul decided to leave, with rumors circulating of his desire to join the Houston Rockets. Paul, who had a player-option for the upcoming season, opted into the contract in order to be dealt in a sign-and-trade with Houston. The Clippers acquired Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, Sam Dekker, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Kyle Wiltjer, a future first round pick, and cash considerations in exchange for Paul. In preparation for a rebuild, the Clippers brought in two-time Executive Of The Year winner Jerry West to serve as their special consultant; West was the architect behind the dynasties of the 2000-02 Los Angeles Lakers and mid-2010 Golden State Warriors, and helped to establish the Memphis Grizzlies as a relevant playoff contender. The team retained Griffin, however, on a new five-year contract, worth $173 million, and acquired Italian wing Danilo Gallinari in a three-team trade with the Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks. Despite beginning the season strongly, the team eventually faltered by the trade deadline, due to injuries to Griffin and Gallinari, combined with no serious depth. This caused the team to trade Griffin to the Detroit Pistons, in exchange for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanović, a protected first round pick in 2018, and a second round pick in 2019. This allowed the team to finish the season strongly, with strong performances from Williams, Harris, and Jordan again allowing the team post a winning record of 42-40. The team would miss the playoffs, however, for the first time since 2011, and concluded their five year streak of 50+ regular season wins. In the 2018 NBA draft, the team were awarded the 12th and 13th overall picks, and selected Miles Bridges and Jerome Robinson, respectively. They would later trade Bridges, and two future second round picks, on draft night to Charlotte, for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Less than a week later, Rivers was traded to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Marcin Gortat. After the season, long-time Clipper center DeAndre Jordan, who had been with the team since 2008, opted out of his contract and became a free agent. On July 6, 2018, Jordan signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks.
On June 15, 2017, the Clippers and the city of Inglewood, California entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement in which the team plans to build a new privately funded 18,000–20,000-seat arena, planning to open by 2024, when the Clippers' current lease with Staples Center expires. The planned arena is expected to be located at Century Boulevard between Yukon and Prairie Avenues, directly south of the under-construction Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park, the future home of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers of the National Football League. The arena is also expected to house a practice facility and team headquarters for the Clippers, as the team's current practice facility in Los Angeles' Playa Vista neighborhood is still owned by the Sterling Family Trust, and is leased back to the team. The Inglewood city council unanimously voted for the agreement in which a subsidiary of the Clippers will purchase 22 acres covering four large city blocks in what is largely a lower-class/lower middle-class residential neighborhood (Century to the north, 104th Street to the south, Yukon to the east, and Prairie to the west) to build the new facility.
The planned arena, however, was met with immediate opposition from the nearby Forum and its operator, the Madison Square Garden Company (parent company of the New York Knicks), as they accused both the Clippers and the Inglewood city government of "backroom dealing" and the fear that a new Clippers' arena will siphon events from the recently renovated sports arena-turned-concert venue.
On June 18, 2015, the Los Angeles Clippers unveiled its new brand identity. The club's primary logo features a basketball in the shape of a compass, with the club's "LAC" monogram situated in the middle. Below that is the club's wordmark logo in black, with the two curved lines below the wordmark symbolizing the horizon of the ocean, which the club says it alludes to its nautical roots. The team also unveiled its new home and away uniforms, which kept the design template from the previous uniforms. The home white uniform features the club's wordmark logo in black across the front. The away red uniform features the club's "LAC" monogram across the right breast, with the player's jersey number across the left breast.
The Clippers introduced an alternate black uniform intended to celebrate downtown Los Angeles on November 6, 2015. The uniform keeps the design template from the previous uniform, and features the club's primary logo without the wordmark.
Los Angeles Clippers roster
The Clippers hold the draft rights to the following unsigned draft picks who have been playing outside the NBA. A drafted player, either an international draftee or a college draftee who is not signed by the team that drafted him, is allowed to sign with any non-NBA teams. In this case, the team retains the player's draft rights in the NBA until one year after the player's contract with the non-NBA team ends. This list includes draft rights that were acquired from trades with other teams.
|2016||2||39||David Michineau||G||France||Levallois Metropolitans (France)||Acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans|||
|2006||2||48||Vladimir Veremeenko||F||Belarus||Nizhny Novgorod (Russia)||Acquired from the Washington Wizards (via Chicago)|||
|Los Angeles Clippers Hall of Famers|
|32||Bill Walton 1||C||1979–1985||1993|
|11||Bob McAdoo 2||F/C||1972–1976||2000|
|20||Moses Malone 2||C/F||1976||2001|
|44||Adrian Dantley 2||F/G||1976–1977||2008|
|Jack Ramsay 3||Head coach||1972–1976||1992|
|Larry Brown||Head coach||1992–1993||2002|
McAdoo and Randy Smith (G, 1972–1979, 1983–1984) are also members of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
Bold denotes still active with team. Italic denotes still active but not with team.
Regular season (as of the end of the 2017–18 season)
|Most minutes played|
|Minutes Played||Bob McAdoo||3,539|
|Field Goals||Bob McAdoo||1,095|
|3-Pt Field Goals||J. J. Redick||201|
|Free Throws||World B. Free||654|
|Offensive Rebounds||DeAndre Jordan||397|
|Defensive Rebounds||Swen Nater||864|
|Total Rebounds||DeAndre Jordan||1,226|
|Player Efficiency Rating||Chris Paul||27.0|
The L.A. Clippers new visual identity is a symbolic turning of the page to the next era of Clippers basketball. The primary logo retains the legacy colors of red, white and blue as a tribute to the Clippers faithful, while adding black to provide a modern edge
If the player is already under contract to, or signs a contract with a non-NBA team, the team retains the player's draft rights for one year after the player's obligation to the non-NBA team ends. Essentially, the clock stops as long as the player plays pro ball outside the NBA.
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