Best-case scenarios for perennial losers
In most professional sports leagues, franchises that have embraced the agony of defeat usually have some explaining to do.
But in the NBA, the defining traits of its traditional doormats are understood.
For example, the Los Angeles Clippers are owned by Donald T. Sterling. The Memphis Grizzlies are run by guys who decided to dump the long-term contract of world-class post player Pau Gasol in exchange for the expiring contract of the mighty Kwame Brown. The New York Knicks employed Isiah Thomas and allowed him to play with their money. The Minnesota Timberwolves were operated by people who broke league rules for the honor of hiring Joe Smith.
Now comes the tricky part. While most of the basketball world still expects these teams to sweat a little bit before retreating to the summer home in Secaucus, N.J., we're going to provide reasons why they may rise up and prosper. Right, we're using "prosper" in a relative context.
Anyway, the following examples of cockeyed optimism are not intended to guarantee that these franchises, their players and coaches will successfully disrupt the status quo. We're simply extending an opportunity for fans of these teams to seize any positive vibe that can be conceived before the regular season occurs.
(It should be noted the Oklahoma City Thunder could have landed on this list, but high [and wise] draft picks will combine with added experience to make them an obvious pick to eventually click.)
Los Angeles Clippers
Point guard/film producer Baron Davis reported for duty wearing a full and impressively scruffy beard.
But rather than representing the unkempt contours of his NBA career from last season, insiders believe the beard portends a focused and ready Baron. That would be dandy ... more hardwood than Hollywood. It also would be nice if Davis and coach Mike Dunleavy at least pretended to agree on a few courses of on-court action.
We believe that, for the sake of not getting laughed out of playoff contention (again), Baron and Mike will find a common ground.