Clippers Looking Stronger After Signing Josh Smith
Just a few weeks ago the Los Angeles Clippers looked like a strong playoff team headed for a disastrous turn. Now with center DeAndre Jordan back in the fold and several key off-season acquisitions, they’re looking like a legit NBA title contender.
Considering those NBA Finals odds better than ever.
Per reports, the Clippers got even deeper on Thursday evening, when they agreed to terms with versatile forward, Josh Smith. Smith, formerly of the Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks, signed for the veteran’s minimum (which was all L.A. could afford) to backup starting power forward Blake Griffin.
Smith, also known as “Smoove”, latched on with the Rockets last year during mid-season after being released by the Pistons. Still being paid by Detroit for a massive deal he signed just three years ago, Smith didn’t really need extra cash and despite being a quality, young player on the open market, decided to take less money to chase a title with the Clippers.
Of course, that brings up a fair question, does Smith do a ton for Los Angeles and with him and everthing else they’ve done this summer, are they a serious title threat?
On the surface, it looks like a resounding yes.
Prior to this summer the Clippers were over achievers, as they somehow won 56 games and stole the Western Conference’s #3 seed despite lacking any real depth. With a star trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan leading the way, the Clippers may also finally have the depth to make their deepest run in team history.
L.A. got extremely close to doing just that a year ago, as they topped the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in the first round and then came just one good fourth quarter away from reaching their first Western Conference Finals series in team history.
Looking ahead to the 2015-16 NBA season, it’s very possible they could be ready to take that next step.
A title is never guaranteed, especially with the Thunder getting healthy and the Spurs getting better (they added LaMarcus Aldridge), but the Clippers have one of the best starting lineups on paper (Paul Pierce joins CP3, Griffin, DJ and J.J. Redick) and now have a bench to support it.
Smith joins a supporting cast that already included Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford, but now also has Wesley Johnson, Lance Stephenson and Cole Aldrich. Significantly deeper and more balanced than it was a year ago, L.A.’s second unit is suddenly arguably a major strength.
Before DJ returned and Smoove finalized a very stacked bench, the Clippers stood fifth with strong 9/1 odds to win it all.
That spot sounds about right even with these changes, as it’s not easy to for sure pick them over the likes of the Cavaliers, Spurs, Thunder or even the defending champion Warriors, but they’re arguably right up there in that top-five grouping.
So, does that mean the Clippers win it all this year? Nothing is guaranteed, but there is no doubt this is a better team than it was a year ago. That could mean they take another positive step and reach their first ever Western Conference Finals series, and it could even mean they get all the way to the 2015-16 NBA Finals. Whether or not they pull a Warriors run off, though, is anyone’s guess.
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