8. Norm Nixon (1983-1989)
If I had a nickel for every Clippers player that fell off a cliff in the last year of their deal and thus made this list of players they held onto for too long, I’d have three nickels. That’s enough to buy a single rubber band bracelet from a financially struggling convenience store!
Save for his first year on the Clippers in San Diego, Norm Nixon spent his entire career in the city of Los Angeles. He was a two-time All-Star and two-time NBA Champion… on the Lakers, before being passed to the Clippers like a hand-me-down sweater.
It was a nice sweater though, and Nixon continued his rock-solid 15 to 17 per game scoring clip for three seasons until he hit a wall in 1988. You could do this for every team in the league, but having a player on the books when they become unplayable is a real issue for wannabe contenders. Stormin’ Norm was a showtime playoff performer in his early career, but the Clippers bought in too late.
The shrewdest General Managers know when to cut bait on talent before it truly falls off, and some of the most lopsided trades in NBA history are predicated on this concept. Danny Ainge trading away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for the entire future of the Brooklyn Nets looks like an all-time-super-genius move these days, and I’d bet some number of dollars that whatever Damian Lillard is traded for comes back to haunt whoever gives it up.
Everyone falls off eventually, and Norm Nixon just happened to do it on the Clippers. Trying to avoid that is how you dominate the league.