Former broadcaster Ralph Lawler didn’t see this LA Clippers team as a contender.
Legendary LA Clippers’ broadcaster Ralph Lawler joined our friend on the Locked On Clippers podcast to discuss the team’s shortcomings this year, trading away Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, move the team has to make, and more.
Let’s start with the wildest realization. Ralph did not see this Clippers team as a contender this year. He cited his tempered expectations compared to previous years is partly due to finally being away from the team and being able to gain perspective while not getting caught in the hype.
“I never thought this was a real championship team this year. You always have a chance. You get into the playoffs and someone sprains an ankle or something but I didn’t think their chances were good to win a championship…I didn’t even necessarily think of all the Clipper teams, the one that had the best to win a championship over the years.”
Lawler instead sticks by the 2013-14 (he incorrectly cites 2012-13) Clippers team that won 56 games. This was the first Doc Rivers’ coached team and Ralph is adamant that they had more depth than this year’s group. He also said that team’s chemistry was perfect. This team similarly fell apart after going up 2-0 against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round.
Move on from Beverley
Ralph also says he believes the team needs to move on from Patrick Beverley. He makes sure to note that Pat is one of his favorite players and his tenacity was helpful in the 2018-19 season but out of the starting five, he would be the one to upgrade.
Pat’s size and length aren’t the greatest and Ralph mentions how the team could use a little more offense out of that spot, both in the form of scoring and playmaking. While he doesn’t have any suggestions for a replacement, he does think someone could be available.
Beverley would be one of the team’s more tradable assets, should they decide to move him. Although he is 31, Bev can still contribute to a team, especially on the defensive end. His $13 million per year salary is tradable, especially considering it’s only guaranteed through 2022.
Not a fan of Shai
Speaking of point guards and trades, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was brought up. Ralph was quick to dismiss the idea of missing Shai, stating he was really never a fan. Lawler seems a bit more old school here with his qualm being that he doesn’t know whether Shai should be a point guard or shooting guard. While that’s a valid claim, the NBA is trending more towards positionless basketball and Shai does have the offense and length that he clamored for in lieu of Beverley.
The last big thing the group discussed was the potential moves we might see this season. Ralph really doesn’t think that outside of Kawhi Leonard that anyone is off-limits. His example was Ivica Zubac who on paper seems like he would be a non-factor in trade talks due to his age, production level, and team-friendly contract could easily be moved for the right price. He does note though that now that he’s retired, he has no insider information so this is all pure speculation.
Ralph was with the team for 40 years, so his opinion even in retirement is a strong one. After being the voice of Clipper Nation for so long, it’s great to get his honest (sometimes blunt) opinion on this year’s group. Make sure to follow the Locked On guys on Twitter as this episode is just part one of four parts of the interview!