Fret not, Thunder fans. There is still hope of getting Blake Griffin in next month’s NBA Draft. We say this with great conviction because the Clippers have the No. 1 overall pick on June 25. They had the first pick in 1998 and selected Michael Olowokandi from Pacific. In today’s world, that would be akin to the Clippers choosing Ohio State’s B.J. Mullens, who for all we know sits atop the Clippers’ draft board this morning. Griffin is a no-brainer as the top pick in this year’s draft, which could prove to be confusing to the Clippers. This is why hope remains for the Thunder to nab their in-state stallion. It would be a huge mistake for the team with the No. 1 pick to choose anyone not named Blake Griffin. Perhaps Griffin is a bad fit for the Clippers, who already are hemorrhaging money in the frontcourt. They are stuck with forward Zach Randolph and his $33,333,333 contract for the next two years. Chris Kaman is signed through 2011-12 at an average of $11,300,000 per. Marcus Camby has one more year left at $7,650,000. The Clippers aren’t happy with guard Baron Davis, who is signed through 2012-13 for a cool $54 million. If the Clips unloaded Davis back to Golden State or someplace else, they would need a point guard and Ricky Rubio fits that bill. Further proof of Clipper ineptitude: Last October, the Clippers finally fired vice president of basketball operations Elgin Baylor, who was one heck of a player but one lousy VP of ops. Baylor held that position for 22 seasons, during which the Clippers went a combined 619-1,153. If it took the Clippers nearly a quarter century to fire a front-office employee with a .349 winning percentage, what’s so farfetched about them swapping picks with the Thunder? With the Clippers, anything is possible. Fret not. There is hope.
Top 5 Worst Clippers Draft Picks
→1. 1998: C Michael Olowokandi, Pacific (No. 1 overall) →2. 2005: F Yaroslav Korolev, Russia (No. 12 overall) →3. 1986: C Joe Wolf, North Carolina (No. 13 overall) →4. 1984: G Lancaster Gordon, Louisville (No. 8 overall) →5. 1992: G Randy Woods, La Salle (No. 16 overall)
From 1947 through 1965, in an effort to build local fan support, the NBA (initially known as the Basketball Association of America) allowed teams to forfeit their first-round draft selection for a territorial pick, a player who was born, raised, or attended college within a 50-mile radius of the team drafting him: →1949: Vern Mikkelsn, Hamline (Minneapolis Lakers) →1949: Ed Macauley, Saint Louis (St. Louis Bombers) →1950: Paul Arizin, Villanova (Philadelphia Warriors) →1951: Whitey Skoog, Minnesota (Minneapolis Lakers) →1952: Bill Mlkvy, Temple (Philadelphia Warriors) →1953: Walter Dukes, Seton Hall (New York Knicks) →1953: Ernie Beck, Penn (Philadelphia Warriors) →1955: Dick Garmaker, Minnesota (Minneapolis Lakers) →1955: Tom Gola, La Salle (Philadelphia Warriors) →1956: Tom Heinsohn, Holy Cross (Boston Celtics) →1958: Guy Rodgers, Temple (Philadelphia Warriors) →1959: Wilt Chamberlain, Kansas, born in Philadelphia (Philadelphia Warriors) →1959: Bob Ferry, Saint Louis (St. Louis Hawks) →1960: Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati (Cincinnati Royals) →1962: Jerry Lucas, Ohio State, born in Middletown (Cincinnati Royals) →1962: Dave DeBusschere, Detroit (Detroit Pistons) →1963: Tom Thacker, Cincinnati (Cincinnati Royals) →1964: George Wilson, Cincinnati (Cincinnati Royals) →1964: Walt Hazzard, UCLA (Los Angeles Lakers) →1965: Bill Bradley, Princeton (New York Knicks) →1965: Gail Goodrich, UCLA (Los Angeles Lakers) →1965: Bill Buntin, Michigan (Detroit Pistons) HOME TERRITORY
If the Thunder works a trade for this year’s No. 1 pick and selects Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin, he would become only the fifth player to be taken No. 1 overall by a franchise located within 100 miles of where that player was born, or where he attended college: → 1984: Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston (Houston Rockets) →1996: Allen Iverson, Georgetown (Philadelphia 76ers) →2003: LeBron James, born in Akron (Cleveland Cavaliers) →2008: Derrick Rose, born in Chicago (Chicago Bulls)
Thumbs up & thumbs down
To the Houston Rockets. With Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming and Dikembe Mutombo out with injuries (a combined 21 feet, 4 inches), you somehow extended what should have been a four-game sweep into a seven-game series against the Los Angeles Lakers. This was an extremely valiant effort by the Rockets, and some disturbing nonchalance from the Lakers, who will lose to Denver if their behavior continues. THUMBS DOWN
To the Denver Nuggets, for not having the foresight (or confidence) to block potential playoff dates at the Pepsi Center. The arena was double-booked Monday night for Game 4 of the Western Conference finals and WWE Monday Night RAW. The Nuggets won the scheduling battle, which unfortunately wasn’t settled with a cage match between Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke and WWE czar Vince McMahon.