A quick intro: I am a season ticket holder for the Los Angeles Clippers. The month of March is considered "MVP month," which means season ticket holders get some cool prizes and access that non season ticket holders cannot get or attend. These include: Autograph night, Voucher giveaways, Team photo giveaways, Dessert Night (Yum!), a coach's chalk talk (talk with the coaches and team president) and photo night, which was tonight.
So after tonight's game against the Denver Nuggets (a win), season ticket holders lined up outside one of the doors and were ushered towards the seats a couple rows behind courtside seats where we would wait to take pictures with a random Clipper. We were split into three groups and luckily, my group was very close to where Donald Sterling was talking with some Clipper employees. He walked by and said "did you enjoy the game!?" To which we responded with cheers and applause because they won. He then came around the courtside seats and chatted with us. There were about 50 of us, I was in the third row so I got to hear a lot of it.
THIS IS WHAT HE SAID: (DISCLAIMER: I'm going to paraphrase as I did not have a tape recorder handy so these are paraphrases and not actual quotes)
- "Now do you want to talk with me, or read what the newspapers have to say?"
- Regarding Heckling Baron Davis - "I noticed he was taking three pointers and missing so I said, 'Why don't you drive it to the basket instead?'"
- Regarding Baron Davis trade - "We had to give up a #1 draft pick with Baron! I was told that Mo Williams REALLY wants to come to LA. I was told that Mo Williams' WIFE really wants to come to LA. I was told Jamario Moon is a great player and defender and he'll work hard for us."
- Regarding Blake Griffin - After explaining what a restricted contract is, where the Clippers can match any offer any other team gives him - "Blake is a $20 million dollar player, and we're not going to give up the best player in (he either said America or the world, but yes, he did say Blake was the best in either America or the world). Now some of these journey men are trying to get paid $20 million dollars too, which is something we're not going to do, but Blake is worth it."
- Regarding Elgin Baylor - "Elgin Baylor was our GM for 22 years and I respect him a lot, but every time we'd talk he'd let it be known that who we had on the Clippers was the best talent we could get." Followed by a shrug.
- Regarding fan jeers of Chris Kaman - "Look I can't tell you who but we are playing some guys to pad their stats in an effort to trade them. I can't tell you who, but you can figure it out. We're trying to land a superstar player to give Blake some help." *Crowd responds in a resounding cheer*
He then left to go talk with some other Clipper employees.
THAT IS IT. Those are the paraphrases of what Donald Sterling said- Let me break it down for you, and give you one way to analyze what he's saying. This is no longer Donald Sterling talking. This is MY take on what is going on with the Clippers based on what Sterling said.
- Regarding heckling Baron Davis - Not really much to look into here. I didn't hear him say anything, my seats aren't close to his. But my personal opinion, owners should never disrespect their players. I don't even think owners should be that CLOSE to the players. Exception Mark Cuban.
- Regarding Baron Davis trade - Baron Davis is on contract for A LOT of money: $13 mil this year, $14 mil next year, $15 mil the year after that. Cleveland needs to rebuild so they want draft picks. The only way they'd take on that expensive Baron contract is if they got a draft pick as well. So Clippers, already neck deep in young talent decide they don't need draft picks and send it over to Cleveland to take on Jamario Moon ($3 million this year, team option of $3 million next year AKA Clips can let him go if they want next summer) and Mo Williams ($9 mil this year, and 2 years of player options at $8.5 mil, which even if he takes, is still millions less than they'd be paying Baron Davis). OK That's a lot of writing. What does it mean? They're cutting payroll so they can pay DeAndre Jordan a lot more money than the $850 thousand he's making this year, because he's a free agent this summer.
- Regarding Blake Griffin - I totally agree with Sterling, I think they should re sign Blake to some max money no matter what and Donald Sterling better keep his word or he'll have to rebuild a team AGAIN, after getting so lucky at getting that #1 pick in the draft and got a once in a decade type player. If he doesn't, he'll continue to be LA's other team, and Sacramento Kings might come to Anaheim and they might push the Clippers to be LA's THIRD team.
- Regarding Elgin Baylor - Again, I have no idea what really went on in the Clippers front office. All I know is Elgin tried to make a team but got a lot of bad luck with Shaun Livingston's freak injury and Elton Brand skipping town AFTER Baron signed with LA, not getting Kobe in 04 and settling for Sam Cassell and Cuttino Mobley (which did get them to the playoffs). But that's not the point. Sterling said that Baylor said that who the Clippers had was the best they could do. Of course they're a lot better now because they made the no brainer decision to draft Blake Griffin. But I also know that Elgin Baylor hasn't been hired as a GM anywhere else so... no more comment.
- Regarding Chris Kaman possibly being traded - Again Sterling NEVER called out Kaman by name saying the Clippers were padding his stats to make him look good for a possible trade. But he did say these comments after someone yelled out something about Chris Kaman. Chris Kaman is on contract for this year and next year so it is very likely the Clippers are padding his stats to trade him this summer as an expiring contract with talent to either shed more payroll to pay their youngsters or to get a high quality superstar which Sterling DID say. Personally, I think Sterling is cheap and won't want to pay 2 superstar salaries. I think he's happy with the Clippers selling out games JUST to see Blake Griffin. They don't need 2 superstars to sell out games, but that's just me. And if the Clips do get a 2nd superstar, GREAT!