May 20, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers signage is put on a window before game four of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

NBA 2012 Offseason Grades: Los Angeles Clippers


Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

2011-12 Record: 40-26, second place in Pacific Division, eliminated in second round of NBA Playoffs by San Antonio Spurs

2012 NBA Draft: F Furkan Aldemir (Turkey, 53rd overall pick)

Offseason Additions: G Jamal Crawford (4 years, $21 million), G Willie Green (acquired from Atlanta Hawks), F Grant Hill (2 years, $3.8 million), F Lamar Odom (acquired from Dallas Mavericks), C Ronny Turiaf (1 year, $1.15 million), C Ryan Hollins (1 year, $1.14 million)

Offseason Losses: G Mo Williams (traded to Utah Jazz), G Randy Foye (signed with Utah Jazz), G Nick Young (signed with Philadelphia 76ers), F Reggie Evans (signed with Brooklyn Nets), F Ryan Gomes (amnestied)

Resigned: G Chauncey Billups (1 year, $4.2 million), F Blake Griffin (5 years, $95 million dollar extension),

Projected Starting Line-up: PG Chris Paul, SG Chauncey Billups, SF Caron Butler, PF Blake Griffin, C DeAndre Jordan

OFFSEASON GRADE: A 

The Los Angeles Clippers actually matter. They are no longer the punchline of the National Basketball Association.

Call the Mayans because their doomsday prophecy is coming true.

The Clippers are relevant? The world must be coming to an end then.

Last years playoff run was only the beginning. A young, talent-filled roster perhaps got even better and even deeper this summer with the additions of a slew of veterans looking to help take this Clippers team to an NBA Championship in 2013.

After clearly the worst statistical season of his 12 year career in 2011-12, 2-time NBA champion Lamar Odom returns to the Los Angeles Clippers as a player after a 9 year absence. As a member of the Dallas Mavericks, Odom put up career lows in points (6.6), rebounds (4.2), assists (1.7), blocks (0.4), steals (0.4), field goal percentage (35.2%) and free throw percentage (59.2%). It was being led on that perhaps Lamar suffered an emotional breakdown or letdown after being traded away from a team and a city in which he won 2 NBA Championships and which he garnered most of his career success. Heading back to the city of Los Angeles, now as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, should be the shot in the arm Lamar needs to turn his career around and help him return to form as one of the most dominant 6th men in the NBA today.

Gun-slinger shooting guard Jamal Crawford also joins the Clippers after signing a 4 year, $21 million dollar deal with the team this summer.

With the departure of Nick Young to the Philadelphia 76ers, Crawford will now fill the role of being the teams instant offense off the bench, bringing his career 15.3 points per game to the Clippers second unit. His shooting percentage dipped in 2012 all the way down to a measly 38.4%, so the Clippers should hope that number increases next season due to Crawford’s knack and need for shooting the basketball.

In a last ditch effort to perhaps add an NBA title to his resume before his career comes to a close, 17 year veteran and 39 year-old Grant Hill now finds himself as a member of the Clippers roster, hoping he’s the missing ingredient to perhaps put this team over the top in the Western Conference.

That statement may sound a little farfetched, but Hill is one of the most respected players in the league today, and his leadership intangibles alone will help this young core of players grow more than his play on the court ever could. He still has some basketball left in him, but his impact will be more behind-the-scenes than anything else.

The acquisitions of Willie Green, Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins will help bolster the depth of a bench that suffered this offseason with the losses of Reggie Evans, Randy Foye and Mo Williams. Turiaf and Hollins add a tough interior presence with their collective size and shot-blocking, while Green can help spread the defense with his outside shooting.

The biggest question heading into the 2013 season will be the health of Clippers superstar power forward Blake Griffin, who signed a 5 year, $95 million dollar extension back in July.

Blake suffered a medial meniscus tear in his left knee playing for the USA Mens Olympic team that required arthroscopic surgery. He’s expected to be ready to go once training camp begins in October, but with Griffins history of knee problems, it remains to be seen if his injury(s) will have any lingering effect once the season begins. With all of the money and hope invested in Blake long-term, these early injuries in his career must be treated with care and serious precaution.

With all of the new pieces added as well as the fact that the main core of players (Griffin, Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, DeAndre Jordan) don’t have many years under their belt playing together, I suppose expectations should be a tad more realistic for 2013.

This is the Clippers after all. Vaulting them into the Championship picture may seem a little premature, but when you look at the makeup of this roster and their amazing mix of young all-stars along with veteran leadership, it’s hard to not fall in love with this team and jump on their bandwagon so to speak.

This team qualified for the second round of the playoffs last season, and that was without their starting shooting guard (Billups)  and all of these tremendous additions (Odom, Crawford, Hill etc).

Could they go even deeper in 2013?

Absolutely.

OTHER OFFSEASON RECAPS: Atlanta HawksBoston Celtics, Brooklyn NetsCharlotte Bobcats, Chicago BullsCleveland CavaliersDallas MavericksDenver NuggetsDetroit PistonsGolden State WarriorsHouston Rockets, Indiana Pacers

Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports

Tags: Blake Griffin Chauncey Billups Chris Paul Grant Hill Jamal Crawford Lamar Odom Los Angeles Clippers NBA Offseason 2012 Ronny Turiaf Willie Green