As fans of one Los Angeles team celebrate another game winner by Kobe Bryant, fans of the other team have begun a celebration all their own. On Tuesday afternoon the Clippers severed all ties with general manager Mike Dunleavy. This comes just under a month after he relinquished his role as coach to focus solely on the managerial side of the team. The team announced his removal via email press release while Dunleavy was golfing. Neil Olshey is slated to take over the vacated GM position.
This hereby ends the seven year relationship that Dunleavy has had with the Clippers. However, will it improve the Clippers in the short and long term? It is widely known that the team wants to win now. It has freed up plenty of cap space in an attempt to be in the market during the summer for a top free agent to play alongside All-Star center Chris Kaman and Blake Griffin (when healthy). Could this be the move that improves the Clippers luck? Their fan base certainly hopes so.
It has also been reported that Philadelphia 76ers head coach, Eddie Jordan, is on the chopping block as well as general manager Ed Stefanski who hired Jordan. The 76ers are maxed out on contracts through the end of next year making them basically ineligible for any movement in free agency over the summer except for sign and trade options. Maurice Cheeks, the teams former head coach is still under contract with the team until the end of this season.
It can be argued that these two teams along with the New Jersey Nets are at the bottom of the NBA barrel as far as teams that are not making the playoffs. All the Nets have promised is a low pick in this year’s draft, Brook Lopez (averaging 19 ppg and 9 rpg), and injury-prone Devin Harris and Yi (the other China doll). In addition, New Jersey is 1-22 against the West. The Clippers have an aging Baron Davis and over-hyped-never-delivered sensations in Travis Outlaw, Brian Skinner and Steve Blake (it’s a wonder what you’ll give up for the likes of Camby). Phily is doing a poor job at building around Andre Iguodala with the signings of Allen Iverson and Elton Brand. Thadeus Young is another name we just don’t hear enough about. Other than rebounds, Samuel Dalembert is having one of the worst seasons of his career.
Minnesota has done a good job with its draft picks in recent years with Corey Brewer, Johnny Flynn and Kevin Love who comes off of the bench. New Orleans hit a rock in the road by loosing CP3 to injury but Darren Collison is filling in nicely. Memphis is also on the rise due to good draft decisions and has a shot at the playoffs. Sacramento has surprised a lot of pundits with rookie sensation Tyreke Evans and Houston has invested in their future very well by bringing in Kevin Martin. No one thought it would work but Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis are actually playing well together in Golden State.
Out east the lowly Knicks have brought in Tracy McGrady and freed up enough space to make moves for two top free agents this summer. Detroit has two very good guards to work with in Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum and has some impressive wins on the season. Indiana is turning it around as well in the Larry Bird era. They have brought in a mix of old and young talent and no, I’m not talking about Tyler Hansbrough. I know it’s hard to make an argument for Washington, but they are playing teams hard. Andray Blatche has really stepped up and so has Al Thornton. Chicago has a very young and talented team beyond last year’s rookie of the year Derrick Rose. Joakim Noah, Acie Law, Taj Gibson and Luol Deng are good building blocks and the team is on the cusp of making the postseason.
All of these teams are working towards winning by making good seasons now. They may not be good on paper but at least they are showing smart decisions in their draft picks and signings. Building a franchise takes a lot of patience and a lot of brains. Philadelphia and the Clippers are starting to make the moves to get the right guys in the offices to make the decisions that put the right guys on the hardwood.