The Los Angeles Clippers have morphed into what many believe is a legitimate title contender. A new, high-profile coach in Doc Rivers and several fresh additions to an already explosive offense have vaulted the once bottom-feeding franchise into a new place among the NBA's elite.
But Donald Sterling nearly ruined it all.
According to a report from Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski, the oft-maligned owner nearly blocked the deal that sent Eric Bledsoe to Phoenix and brought J.J. Redick to Los Angeles from Milwaukee. Had Sterling gotten his way, the report stated, the Clippers may have been looking at a future, not only without Redick, but without Rivers and perhaps even Chris Paul, who had just agreed to a 5-year, $107 million extension.
Sterling's stance left the team's head coach in a difficult position. From Wojnarowski:
With Sterling, rational thought and debate aren't always part of the discussion. Whatever his reasons, everyone else awaited Rivers' conversations with Sterling. Rivers contract gave him ultimate management authority on deals, and several sources dealing with the Clippers say that Rivers was beyond embarrassed and humiliated. He feared the unraveling of the deal would cost him his credibility and paralyze him in future trade and negotiation talks, sources said.
The situation was made even more complex by the fact Redick had passed up on other lucrative opportunities elsewhere, including one for similar money with the Timberwolves. Given that the NBA's free agent moratorium was nearing its end, the shooting guard was left with a potentially disastrous situation. Rivers and the Clippers were, too.
There was no Plan B for Redick, and the situation had gotten to a point where there was a real possibility that Rivers and Paul would unite against their owner and walk out. No one but Rivers will ever know if it came to that, but the fact of the matter is, according to Woj's replort, Sterling nearly ruined what looks to be one of — if not the most — promising years in the Clippers history.
The NBA season is officially upon us, and so is Donald Sterling.