Clippers president calls for team to make 1 big change for next season
The Los Angeles Clippers’ Western Conference first round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns was disappointing, but perhaps more forgivable due to injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. However, Clippers president Lawrence Frank thinks the team needs to address one other big issue.
Frank said the Leonard and George injuries should not “mask a disappointing regular season,” arguing that the team had failed to compete hard enough during the season itself and needed to make more of an effort to secure a more favorable seed in the playoffs going forward.
“We have to be honest with ourselves and we have to look in the mirror,” Frank said Thursday, via Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. “It starts with me and we have to get back to honoring and respecting the regular season. We have to compete harder, more consistently and we have to earn it.”
Frank’s comments come at a time when a lot of NBA teams put much less emphasis on the regular season. Most preseason contenders don’t worry as much about the 82-game schedule, using load management and generally figuring that their talent will carry them through once the games start to matter. A combination of injury and load management limited George to 56 games and Leonard to 52, and subsequently, the Clippers went a modest 44-38 and finished fifth in the Western Conference. That got them a first round matchup with a Suns team that was likely better than its actual seed due to the presence of Kevin Durant, who had contributed little since his trade deadline acquisition due to injuries of his own.
Essentially, Frank’s message is that a team cannot take it easy during the regular season only to suddenly flick a switch and develop a sense of urgency in the playoffs. How much that helps them remains to be seen, but considering how hard the NBA has worked to try to make the regular season more important, it’s probably a message the league will approve of.