Clippers The Late Great Curtis Hill is the GM for the Los Angles Clippers.  The Clippers have the 4th pick (yet another lottery pick).  Curtis selects:

Elton Brand, PF, 6'8", Duke

Los Angeles Clippers: (Still)On a Road to Nowhere

Curtis Hill (, Disaster Recovery GM Consultant

Oh, the Clippers. Woe, the Clippers. Has there been a sorrier professional sports team in the second half of the 20th Century? Certainly, a strong case can be made, all the way back to the Buffalo Braves, that this team has rarely been good. It’s not even that they haven’t been good, the curious thing is that the team doesn’t seem to want to get good -- or even average.

To be brutally honest, the Clippers have to do three things to become successful:

  1. Leave Los Angeles (going back to San Diego is a thought)
  2. Change ownership
  3. Change team management Notice that none of these have anything to do with this draft. This team is so far away from being good, and given the almost-certain exodus of free agent players from the team this season, one draft pick will not make a big difference to the Clips for the next couple of seasons.

Clippers current situation


Submitted for your approval:
  • 1985: Benoit Benjamin (third overall)
  • 1986: Dwayne Polee (third round, 53rd overall)
  • 1987: Reggie Williams (fourth)
  • 1988: Danny Manning (first)
  • 1988: Hersey Hawkins (sixth)
  • 1989: Danny Ferry (second)
  • 1990: Bo Kimble (eighth)
  • 1991: LeRon Ellis (22nd)
  • 1991: Elmore Spencer (25th)
  • 1992: Randy Woods (16th)
  • 1993: Terry Dehere (13th)
  • 1994: Lamond Murray (seventh)
  • 1994: Greg Minor (25th)
  • 1995: Antonio McDyess (second)
  • 1996: Lorenzen Wright (seventh)
  • 1997: Maurice Taylor (14th)
  • 1998: Michael Olowokandi (1st)
  • 1998: Brian Skinner (22nd)

Let’s just say that being drafted by the Clippers is not exactly the first stop on the road to NBA superstardom. It’s may not even be the first stop on the road to NBA journeyman.

It’s hard to imagine a more complete streak of bad luck could result from a concerted attempt to make the worst possible selections in the draft. Somehow, the Clippers have bucked the odds and managed to draft a nearly perfect streak of over-rated or snake-bitten players over the past 12 years.

The jury is still out on Olowokandi, but the Clippers fans who were screaming for this pick last year are generally a little more quiet now. Judging by the feedback I’ve been getting for my pick (since, due to circumstances out of my control, this report is very late), Clippers fans crave mediocrity. For those few Clipper fans (and anyone else) waiting for why I did what I did, please read on.


The Clippers have two classes of players: those who are under contract and those that are free agents and will be leaving the team.

Now, the statistics:

Player Averages

Taylor 46 45 32.7 .461 .167 .728 2.2 3.1 5.3 1.5 0.35 0.63 16.8
Murray 50 13 26.3 .391 .330 .803 1.2 2.7 3.9 1.2 1.16 0.40 12.2
Piatkowski 49 38 25.3 .432 .394 .863 0.8 2.1 2.9 1.1 0.90 0.12 10.5
Nesby 50 36 25.8 .449 .365 .782 1.1 2.4 3.5 1.6 1.54 0.40 10.1
Olowokandi 45 36 28.4 .431 -- .483 2.7 5.3 7.9 0.6 0.60 1.22 8.9
Douglas 30 19 28.1 .438 .000 .632 0.5 1.4 1.9 4.1 0.90 0.10 8.2
Martin 37 25 25.4 .367 .292 .803 0.1 1.2 1.3 3.9 1.16 0.11 8.0
Rogers 47 7 20.6 .441 .286 .673 1.4 2.4 3.8 1.6 1.00 0.47 7.4
Hudson 25 6 21.0 .400 .319 .895 0.6 1.6 2.2 3.7 0.44 0.08 6.8
Wright 48 15 23.6 .458 .000 .692 3.0 4.6 7.5 0.7 0.54 0.75 6.6
Skinner 21 0 12.3 .465 -- .606 1.0 1.6 2.5 0.0 0.48 0.62 4.1
Smith 23 10 13.8 .361 .212 .438 0.3 0.7 1.0 0.6 0.74 0.61 3.7
Richardson 11 0 11.8 .333 .000 1.000 0.1 1.1 1.2 2.7 0.36 0.00 2.5
Closs 15 0 5.8 .522 .000 .800 0.3 1.3 1.7 0.0 0.20 0.60 2.1
Vrankovic 2 0 6.0 .250 -- -- 2.0 1.0 3.0 0.0 0.00 0.00 1.0
Team Totals 50 250 242.5 .427 .320 .721 13.3 25.9 39.2 16.4 8.48 4.72 90.4
Opponents 50 -- 242.5 .474 .354 .746 12.8 30.1 42.9 22.0 8.38 5.78 99.2


Tayl 46 45 1505 311-675 1-6 150-206 100 142 242 67 16 29 773
Murr 50 13 1317 226-578 34-103 126-157 59 136 195 61 58 20 612
Piat 49 38 1242 180-417 65-165 88-102 39 101 140 53 44 6 513
Nesb 50 36 1288 182-405 35-96 104-133 57 118 175 82 77 20 503
Olow 45 36 1279 172-399 0-0 57-118 120 237 357 25 27 55 401
Doug 30 19 842 96-219 0-11 55-87 16 42 58 124 27 3 247
Mart 37 25 941 102-278 31-106 61-76 5 43 48 144 43 4 296
Roge 47 7 968 131-297 18-63 68-101 65 114 179 77 47 22 348
Huds 25 6 524 60-150 15-47 34-38 15 40 55 92 11 2 169
Wrig 48 15 1135 119-260 0-1 81-117 142 219 361 33 26 36 319
Skin 21 0 258 33-71 0-0 20-33 20 33 53 1 10 13 86
Smit 23 10 317 35-97 7-33 7-16 7 17 24 13 17 14 84
Rich 11 0 130 12-36 0-6 4-4 1 12 13 30 4 0 28
Clos 15 0 87 12-23 0-1 8-10 5 20 25 0 3 9 32
Vran 2 0 12 1-4 0-0 0-0 4 2 6 0 0 0 2
Team 50 250 12125 1711-4007 214-668 883-1225 665 1293 1958 820 424 236 4519
Oppo 50 -- 12125 1830-3858 222-627 1078-1445 640 1506 2146 1101 419 289 4960

Don’t you just love it when no one on a team is close to shooting .500 from the field? (Didn’t I say this last year?)

I will provide analysis of the Clippers roster including the Clippers’ free agents.

Date # of total
Player signed years salary misc FA
Sherman Douglas 2/4/99 1 $2.5 million '99
Lamond Murray 10/21/94 13 $13.5 million p-opt '99
Tyrone Nesby 1/2?/99 1 minimum '99
Eric Piatkowski 10/14/94 5 $5.7 million '99
Rodney Rogers ?? 6 $12 million '99
Stojko Vrankovic 9/6/96 3 $10 million '99
Lorenzen Wright 8/26/96 3 $4.25 million rc '99
Keith Closs 8/8/97 5 $8.5 million p-opt '00
Pooh Richardson ?? 6 $10.5 million '00
Charles Smith 7/21/97 3 $2,136,000 rc '00
Maurice Taylor 7/13/97 3 $3.63 million rc '00
Michael Olowokandi 1/29/99 4 $12 million rc t-opt '02
Brian Skinner 1/21/99 4 $2.89 million rc t-opt '02
Darrick Martin 1/21/99 ?? ?? ??
Troy Hudson 4/13/99 ?? ?? ??


Michael Olowokandi - started out slow after an ill-conceived trip to Italy for a quick payday. Started playing a little better as the season went on. The jury is still out on Olowokandi. If he turns out to be in the mid-tier of centers for the Clippers, I’d guess you’d have to consider it a win. I don’t think we’ll really see what Michael’s potential is until his third year.

Keith Closs - raw and thin, but he’s shown signs of having a good up-side. No real decision here as he’s signed through 2000. Just like last year. Not likely to be a start, but perhaps a good backup.

Lorenzen Wright - I liked Wright coming out of school but he hasn’t shown much in the league, partially due to injury. He’s signed through next year and the Clippers could really use for Wright to be a player this year. The Clippers got lucky and Wright didn’t play well, so the FA market for him isn’t huge. However, he’s tall and athletic and with the Twin Towers in San Antonio, there will be western teams (Utah, for instance) who’d love to pick up a player like Wright.

Stojko Vrankovic - His game? Your guess is as good as mine. I doubt he’ll be in the league next year.


Lamond Murray - one of the two better players the Clippers have. Not exactly a great player, but he’s good enough to leave the Clippers if he wants to. Scores, but with a shooting percentage that rivals freezing in degrees Fahrenheit, he’s not going to help make the Clippers a winner in the long run. I wouldn’t try and keep Murray.

Rodney Rogers - Rodney has never really able to play power forward in the NBA like I thought he’d be able to coming out of Wake Forest. He has the strength to play inside, but hasn’t had a lot of success. He’s had more luck at small forward, but his offensive skills aren’t good enough to play the position full- time in the NBA. He’s a good player, though, and a good guy. Rodney was looking to have a big statistical year in order to get a FA ticket out of ClipperLand, not sure if he had it or not. He can probably get out if he so desires -- I’d try and keep Rogers for a backup 3/4.

Maurice Taylor - Taylor blossed this year, at least proving that he can be a starter in the NBA. I like Taylor as a 3/4 player, with more bias on the 3. Taylor shoots the ball OK and shoot improve. Definitely a player the Clips should be working toward keeping in town.

Brian Skinner - rookie from Baylor who will provide backup support at the forward position, but what is the upside long-term?

Tyrone Nesby - a small forward from UNLV who’s been a pleasant surprise for the Clippers. Projects more toward a 2/3 player. I would definety work toward making Nesby a shooting guard, as it would be better for both parties in the long run. This would help accelerate making the Clippers a better team to be sure. However, since Nesby wasn’t drafted, he’s a FA this year. Why do I think he won’t be back?


Darrick Martin - is anyone else surprised he’s still in the league? A decent backup point guard

Pooh Richardson - he’s been around forever, hasn’t he? Not sure that the Clippers still want Pooh around but I don’t know what Pooh’s intentions are. It might be a good time to retire. Gee, just like last year.

Eric Piatkowski - I must say that I’m surprised that Piatkowski has played as well as he has in the league. He’s been a good offensive player, though I’m not sure that he’s ever going to be a really good defensive players, especially at shooting guard. His stock is high enough he can leave if he wants.

Charles Smith - had surgery on his foot (the dreaded broken 5th metatarsal) last year. He’s a decent enough guard and he has one year left on his rookie contract. Last chance to evaluate a player who could be a good 3rd or 4th guard in the league, perhaps even for the Clippers.

Sherman Douglas -- see Darrick Martin and Pooh Richardson.

Troy Hudson -- a FA pickup that played well enough at the end of the season to change the status of the Clippers’ PG situation from critical to serious-but-stable. He’s a free agent, too, but I suspect he will re- sign with the Clippers.

Coaching/Possible Hires

The Clips had a chance to make a big statement last year in hiring a coach. They didn’t make much of a statement, but they did get a respectable coach, Chris Ford. If the Clippers are going to be good in the future, Ford might be a good bridge coach. Down the road, the Clippers are going to need an elite coach, either by paying big dollars for a coach/GM or getting lucky with a young coach. However, the coach isn’t going to be any better than what management provides him to work with.


Elgin Baylor is one of the great NBA players of all time and, I’m sure, a very nice guy and a gentleman. However, what he isn’t is a NBA general manager. It’s time for Elgin to take a job with the league or be named VP of basketball operations for the Clippers and give up his GM duties. Please, Elgin, do it. Let us remember you for what you did on the court, not what you put on the court for the Clippers.


Maybe Fox will buy the Clippers and the Lakers? The Clippers desperately need new ownership, even moreso than they need a new general manager.

Of course, saying this will get me on the short enemies list of the rest of the league’s owners. Donald Sterling is no Ted Septien, but he’s the best the NBA has to offer at this time.


The Clippers need help in every area of the organization. Well, maybe not every area. I haven’t really dug into quality of the PR department, marketing department, or the cheerleaders.

Draft needs

Name a position, the Clippers need help. However, the Clippers are loaded at all three forward positions: small, power, and tweener. And this year, depending on how the FA market goes, the Clips may not be loaded at forward!!! The pick should be anyone but a center. And, this year, at number four, this is not an issue!

Possible Selections

The Clippers wil get to choose from the following list of players:

Lamar Odom - intriguing talent, but I’m not really sold on how good of a NBA player he is going to be. Small forward is not an area the Clips need immediate help at. Maybe.

Steve Francis - a quality point guard prospect who would certainly score points for the Clippers. More of a two-guard mentality, but has the skills to be a NBA point guard. Very athletic and will benefit from NBA rules.

Baron Davis - another quality point guard prospect who would certainly score points with the Clippers. His previous attitude and injury problems, plus the pressure of playing in his hometown, make him a somewhat risky pick for the Clippers

Elton Brand - a seemingly undersized power forward prospect. I really like Brand’s NBA potential. His strength, shooting skills, and overall athletic ability make him a potential long-term star at power forward in the NBA. I like to think of him as a linear interpolation between Karl Malone and Charles Barkley. If he’s really on that line, someone’s going to be very happy drafting Brand.

Corey Maggette - a very interesting prospect. Very athletic in every way. Will be able to play three or four positions down the road if he continues to work hard and improve. Shows signs of having a good jump shot. Doesn’t use his left hand well on the dribble or to shoot. Very raw. I like his upside and he would bring excitement to the Clippers organization.

Richard Hamilton - I love Hamiton’s overall game. He’s got a good understanding of the game, shoots well (if a little streaky), and can use screens. A good defender at the college level, I worry how this part of his game will translate to the NBA. He might be just slightly undersized at 2 guard, but nothing to seriously worry about. If he improves his ballhandling, he could swing to point at times and be a very valuable NBA player.

Future Considerations


Ford will do for now, but he will likely wear on the players over time. He’s an experienced NBA man and can help shepherd some of the younger players through the NBA wars.


The Clippers will never be any good until they can attract some quality free agents (heck, any free agents) to supplement their excellent drafting positions. Again, the only way to do this is to start running a quality organization.

Next couple of drafts

One important consideration for teams like the Clippers is to consider what the NBA draft is going to look like over the next few years. Pickin’s are going to be very, very slim, especially outside of the lottery. However, I don’t think the Clippers will have to be worried about being out of the lottery next year. They do need to worry about what types of players may or may not be available in upcoming drafts, though.


Last year, I picked for need and got slightly burned. I loved Vince Carter’s NBA potential and had a really hard time deciding between him, Olowokandi, and Bibby (who I drafted). This year, the Clippers must take the best player available:

Elton Brand, Duke

He will provide the Clippers with an excellent rotation at 3-4-5, providing a great scoring and rebounding compliment for Olowokandi. I think Brand can be a very good NBA player down the road and someone the Clippers can build around. Also, if they can sell Brand on the franchise, he’s the kind of guy that can keep other players around.

With Francis and Davis gone, the only two PG prospects the Clippers should consider at number four are not an option. Maggette is too raw, though I’d probably take him over Francis or Davis. I love Hamiton, and if Brand and Francis are gone, I might take Hamilton here, but I think number four is just a little too early for Hamilton. As you can tell, I’m not high on Odom or Davis.

And, for those of you wondering (as opposed to those of you who know), I am not and never have been (or will be), a fan of Duke basketball.

What the Clippers should do

The Clippers should try to get a good player with the number four pick. Brand is ideal. If Brand is gone, they should try and trade down, picking up a scoring guard or forward and selecting another guard (Hamilton, Terry, Avery -- depending on how low they go) later in the first round.

Or he can make me the GM. On the NBA GM pay scale, I’m very affordable. This offer has been open for several years. And now that Southwest flys into RDU, my plane fare to LA will be much less expensive.

What the Clippers will really do

Probably draft Baron Davis. Hey, it could be worse, they could draft someone you’ve never heard of.

However, in the Big Picture, it really can’t be any worse...

Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner

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