NBA

LA Clippers ready to take final steps toward NBA title with Sterling gone

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It's been a tumultuous offseason for the Los Angeles Clippers and most of it hasn't been about basketball.

But, now that Steve Ballmer is firmly in place as the team's owner and Donald Sterling has been booted out the door with a fistful of cash, it's time for the Clippers to concentrate on basketball and building a team around stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

The Clippers have long been L.A.'s half-hearted little brother in the NBA, and have long looked to change their diminutive status. Now, they believe they can.

And it starts with coach Doc Rivers, who this week got locked up for a reported five years and $50 million with his contract extension.

“This is an important day for this organization,” Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said in a release.

“I am excited to work with Doc for a long time as we build a championship culture that will deliver results both on and off the court. Not only is Doc one of the best coaches and executives in the game, but he continually embodies the hard core, committed and resilient character and winning culture that the Clippers represent. It was one of my top priorities to ensure that he was firmly in place as the long-term leader of this team.”

The Clippers traded their 2015 first-rounder to the Celtics for Rivers last offseason.

Rest of the roster

After Griffin and Paul, the Clippers' biggest contract is that of seventh-year center DeAndre Jordan, a 6-foot-11 rebounding machine out of Texas A&M who is coming off a career year where he averaged a double-double for the first time with 10.4 points and 13.6 rebounds per game while playing all 82 regular season games for the second consecutive season.

He averaged 9.6 points and 12.5 boards per game in the playoffs as the Clippers beat upstart Golden State in seven games in the first round before being ousted by Oklahoma City in six games in the conference semifinals.

J.J. Redick (15.2 ppg) and Jamal Crawford (18.6 ppg) were the Clippers' other big scoring contributors last season.

Roster manoeuvres

Because of the intricate NBA salary cap rules, a few teams have made odd manoeuvres over the past week. One of them is the Clippers, who traded Jared Dudley and a 2017 first-round pick to the Milwaukee Bucks for Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica.

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According to the Los Angeles Times, both Delfino and Raduljica will now be waived and their final season of their contracts will be paid over a five-year span under something called the NBA's stretch provision.

Potential free agents

What those waived players mean is that the Clippers will have a little more room under the cap to sign players for this season.

The L.A. Times reported that Ekpe Udoh, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Ray Allen would be potential targets.

ESPN's Arash Markazi reported that Rivers has been in contact with Allen, who formerly played for Rivers with the Celtics.

Now, if they can only turn that into a tradition like the Celtics have.

Topics:
LA Clippers
Western Conference
NBA

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