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Cuttino Mobley was the Clippers first marquee FA signing...

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by Clips/Roxfan, Jul 16, 2019.

  1. Clips/Roxfan

    Clips/Roxfan Member

    Jun 30, 2006
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    Appreciating the best LA Clippers free agent not named Kawhi Leonard

    by Jose Salviati 7 hours ago

    Now that the dust has settled on the most exciting free agency period in LA Clippers history, I thought it was worth looking back to see how they got here.

    It is no exaggeration to say that signing a player like Kawhi Leonard is franchise altering. For the LA Clippers it signifies a milestone, his signing marks the end of a less than successful era.

    Now, this may seem strange considering the fact that the last eight seasons have seen the team finish above .500. Seven of those eight seasons they made the playoffs. By any measure, that is a successful eight year run. The LA Clippers, however, are not just any NBA franchise.

    I hate to bring it up, but there was a time when the Clippers were, well, awful. Not just bad, but historically, laughably bad. It is precisely because of that history, that very long and painful history, that the eight year run seemed precarious. Even the most ardent Clippers fan enjoyed the last few seasons but with a wary eye to the future.

    “Sure, they are good now and it’s exciting, but…”

    When the NBA free agency period came around, that same feeling hit. Clippers fans were confident the very best player would sign with them. Or, he might not.

    When NBA prognosticators began to share news of 99 percent certainty Leonard signs with the Toronto Raptors, Clippers fans accepted the inevitable defeat. When the pundits said the Clippers were out of the running for the best player in the Association, Clippers fans responded with a resigned shrug as they prepared for Plan B.

    I have to admit that some fans stayed vigilant throughout, and to them I say, wow! You are a new breed of Clippers fan and deserve a special call out. You know who you are.

    Most Clippers fans, however, not only weren’t shocked at the negative reports before the signing was announced, they were shocked when the signing was announced. A player of that quality, arguably the very best player in the Association chose the LA Clippers. Yes, he chose with a caveat, in this case Paul George is the caveat, but regardless, he chose the Clippers.

    He chose the Clippers!

    A franchise in the Association doesn’t just sign a player like this; doesn’t just attract a player like this, overnight. A lot had to happen within the franchise to get to this point. A lot has been written about the incredible transformation of the Clippers executive team led by Michael Winger, Lawrence Frank and Jerry West. Additionally, a lot has been written about the passionate chairman, Steve Ballmer. There is no doubt they had an impact in getting the franchise to this place, but when you take a step back and look at the history of this franchise one thing becomes clear.

    The signing of Leonard started to become a possibility when the franchise made its first impactful free agent signing in 2005.

    The trajectory of a franchise changes direction in the same way a cruise ship does, slow and methodically. Teams in most professional leagues do not go from bad to good in a season. Making matters worse, as pointed out earlier, the Clippers weren’t just bad, they were worse than that. A shift in direction was going to take time.

    There are lots of ways to historically call out this shift, I am going to focus on free agent signings. One logical way to see how popular your team is would be to see who wants to play with you. The list of every free agent signing for the Clippers from 1984 to 2014 is a staggering 122 players! I admit, I was shocked at the number. After all, the Clippers weren’t exactly known as a destination or a franchise that paid well, back in the day. What becomes evident as you look closely at the list of those 122 players though is the type of player they were, which is what I want to call out.

    Now, I am not including 10-day contracts, contracts that were matched or “basketball decision”. Elton Brand stayed with the Clippers after they matched his contract offer from the Miami Heat in 2003. Chris Paul came to the Clippers via the infamous “basketball decision”. The focus of this list is players who signed with the team when they had other options.

    Let’s start with everyone from 1984-2004, a total of 76 players. Instead of listing them all for you I’ve pared-down the list to highlights of the most well-known as well as a few “nuggets”.

    Greg Kelser

    Jamaal Wilkes

    Mike Woodson

    Larry Drew

    Torgeir Bryn

    James Edwards

    Kiki Vandeweghe

    Lester Conner

    Mark Aguirre

    Alphonso Ford

    Logan Vander Velden

    Darrick Martin

    Keith Closs

    Kiwane Garris

    Juaquin Hawkins

    Earl Boykins

    Jackie Moon

    Cherokee Parks

    Mike Batiste

    Olden Polynice

    Bobby Simmons

    Glen Rice

    Quinton Ross

    Mikki Moore

    The group is peppered with players past their prime, like Glen Rice and Mark Aguirre. A lot of players even the biggest Clippers fan would have trouble pointing out of a lineup likeMike Batiste,Juaquin Hawkins, Alphonso Ford and several others not listed. In fact, this is the largest group of players of the 76 total, players only their momma could love.

    Of course, there were some nuggets along the way. Bobby Simmons won Most Improved Player in the 2004-05 season. Olden Polynice and Quinton Ross were fan favorites. What’s missing, however, is a big-name free agent signing in his prime.

    Between 1984 to 2004, the LA Clippers filled a squad because they had to. Nothing more.

    Before we move on, I do have to call out some special signings, these guys are Clippers “nuggets”. Kiwane Garris played 31 games in the NBA, none for the Clippers. Logan Vander Velden played 15 total games for the franchise. He averaged 2.1 minutes played and a whopping 0.6 points per game. He is being called out here because Vander Velden was from Valders, Wisconsin. Yup, Vander Velden from Valders.
    Finally, there’s Torgeir Bryn. Bryn’s NBA career consisted of three games. In those games he averaged a total of 3.3 minutes played and 1.3 points, four points total. What makes Bryn notable is that he is the only Norwegian NBA professional basketball player, ever. While his career in the Association wasn’t impactful, he is the most capped player for the Norway national basketball team with 111 matches.

    Impressive, but he was no Kawhi Leonard.

    While all the players above, listed and not listed, live on in Clippers lore, none rose to the prominence of a Leonard and the franchise had no realistic shot at landing anyone like him anytime soon. In fact, the list above is so inauspicious you may not have even noticed the fictional player I threw in there just to see if you noticed! Did you notice? Comment or tweet if you did.

    The first 20 years in Los Angeles were more about the Clippers building teams to play, not necessarily to compete. All that changed in 2005. From 2005-2014 the franchise signed 46 free agents. Like before there are some on the list that are less than household names, but when you look past those you begin to see that some of these players signed over this stretch of time were more than hidden nuggets, they were actually really good players that were in demand!

    The highlight list of 2005-14 signings follows.

    Cuttino Mobley

    Vin Baker

    Brevin Knight

    Ruben Patterson

    Smush Parker

    Baron Davis

    Ricky Davis

    Brian Skinner

    Randy Foye

    Ryan Gomes

    Brian Cook

    Caron Butler

    Kenyon Martin

    Jamal Crawford

    Matt Barnes

    Stephen Jackson

    Glen Davis

    Do you see the difference? This group contained some really good players in their prime! It all started with Cuttino Mobley on August 3, 2005. Cat was 30 yrs old and coming off a season where he averaged 17.8 ppg in Sacramento. He was a wanted free agent, coming off a big season in the prime of his career. Signings like that never happened before in Los Angeles, at least not for the LA Clippers.

    His signing was a watershed moment, a milestone. It was a message to the league that things in the Clippers franchise were changing. Where free agents of the past chose the Clippers when all their other options dried up, free agents from this point forward could begin to actually consider the Clippers as a primary option.

    It all started with Cat.

    Mobley opened the door for Baron Davis who signed three years later. Davis set the stage for Jamal Crawford who came on board fours years after Davis. Each of those players were coming off great seasons, they were all in their prime and each had great success with the Clippers.

    No, none of them were Kawhi Leonard, but without them the Clippers wouldn’t of been in a position to sign the Klaw. A lot went into this franchise altering signing. The executives, the caveat, a little bit of luck was no doubt included. I think it’s important to pull back and appreciate the other steps that got the LA Clippers to this place.

    It all started with Cat.

    King1 and tinman like this.
  2. Clips/Roxfan

    Clips/Roxfan Member

    Jun 30, 2006
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    The OG signing ...

    [​IMG] ESPN.com: NBA [Print without images][​IMG]

    Thursday, July 14, 2005
    Five-year deal reportedly worth about $42 million
    Associated Press


    Cuttino Mobley, one of the NBA's most accurate outside shooters, will play for the Los Angeles Clippers next season, his agent said Thursday.

    "An agreement has been reached," Andy Miller said from his office in Tenafly, N.J.

    Miller wouldn't divulge terms, but it's believed the parties agreed to a five-year deal worth around $42 million. Contracts cannot be signed until an NBA moratorium ends July 22.

    The 29-year-old Mobley, an unrestricted free agent, has averaged 17.1 points in seven NBA seasons. He played for the Houston Rockets for six years before being traded to the Orlando Magic last summer. He was traded again in January, to the Sacramento Kings for Doug Christie.

    Mobley, a 6-foot-4 left-handed guard, averaged 17.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists for the Magic and Kings before opting out of a contract that would have paid him $6.4 million next season.

    The Clippers have been one of the NBA's least successful franchises over the years, failing to make the playoffs since 1997 and advancing to the postseason only three times since moving from San Diego to Los Angeles in 1984. They lost in the first round each time.

    But Miller said Mobley believes things are going to change.

    "There wasn't one determining factor, there were a number of them," Miller said regarding Mobley's decision. "Cuttino and I were very impressed with the consistency and aggressiveness the Clippers showed toward us and their desire to win.

    "Winning is the absolute most important thing to Cuttino. With coach [Mike] Dunleavy managing the team, Cuttino feels very confident that there not only is a very strong commitment to win but a direction as well," he said.

    Mobley figures to start in the backcourt with Shaun Livingston. That would move Corey Maggette from shooting guard to his natural position of small forward to start up front with Elton Brand and Chris Kaman.

    "I feel it's a perfect fit," Miller said. "We're very excited about the opportunity."

    The Clippers finished last in the NBA in 3-point shots tried and made last season. Mobley ranked third in the league in 3-point accuracy, shooting 150-of-342 (43.9 percent) from beyond the arc.

    Miller said the Clippers beat out several teams for Mobley's services.

    "There was a lot of interest and a lot of dialogue," Miller said. "In making this decision, this shows how much he values the Clippers' situation."

    Miller also said Mobley found Los Angeles "an attractive place to play."

    Forward Bobby Simmons, voted the NBA's most improved player last season, when he averaged 16.4 points for the Clippers, agreed to a five-year, $47 million contract with the Milwaukee Bucks last week.

    Mobley seems a better fit for the Clippers and will apparently come a little cheaper.

    Mobley was the 42nd overall selection of the Rockets in the 1998 NBA draft after playing at Rhode Island, where he averaged 14.3 points in 93 career games.

  3. Clips/Roxfan

    Clips/Roxfan Member

    Jun 30, 2006
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  4. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    May 9, 1999
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    He and Cassell were an all time underrated duo

    They would rock today’s game
  5. Clips/Roxfan

    Clips/Roxfan Member

    Jun 30, 2006
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    Bump this...
    steddinotayto likes this.
  6. steddinotayto

    steddinotayto Contributing Member

    Aug 10, 2001
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    That Elton Brand, Sam Cassell, and Cuttino Mobley team in 05/06 was LEGIT.
  7. peleincubus

    peleincubus Member

    Oct 26, 2002
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    I wonder if Mobley and Francis ever made eye contact when they were tag teaming young ladies.

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