The Los Angeles Clippers have made a clear statement of intent this offseason - that of having the skill and structure to compete with the big guns across both conferences.
An overhaul of the roster was made throughout these weeks in the interest of building a competitive squad and emerge from the shadows of the big teams, and also their own rivals - the Los Angeles Lakers.
Naturally, the departure of point guard Chris Paul and shooting guard J.J. Redick who went to don the Philadelphia 76ers jersey raised some eyebrows on the competitiveness and quality that this roster would boast.
Moreover, another starter in the five-man team, Luc Mbah a Moute, was sent to the Houston Rockets. Hence, the starting formation needed new faces, without mentioning also the need to add more depth into the bench.
In addition, the organisation itself was also included in this package of development as they shifted Doc Rivers to just fulfilling his coaching responsibilities while the front office saw the injection of respectable voices.
To the contrary of most of the teams, the Clippers were not entitled to any pick during the 2017 NBA Draft.
Nonetheless, they were still active as they successfully negotiated in acquiring the 39th pick from the 76ers, through which they brought in Jawun Evans of Oklahoma State and also the 48th pick of the Milwaukee Bucks which was converted into South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell.
Free Agency Signings/Trade Additions
Among the numerous additions that the Clippers did throughout this off season, one that grabbed the headlines was the arrival of Italian forward Danilo Gallinari who spent last season at the Denver Nuggets.
The Italian international has the ability of adapting in the role of small forward or power forward as he excels in basic traits like passing, scoring and playmaking.
The Clippers fans will be looking forward to watch him paired with their other forward, Griffin.
Another exciting newcomer is Serbian Milos Teodosic who is embarking on his maiden NBA adventure after parting ways with CSKA Moscow to seek pastures new in the United States.
Followers of the Euroleague will have already witnessed some of his genial moments with the Russian side (Check out his assists here).
Despite arriving as the backup for the role of point guard, his experience from another culture will be valuable and if he can absorb the NBA gameplay, Teodosic can be a decisive player for the Clippers.
Meanwhile, other arrivals were former Rockets Patrick Beverley who plays great defense and on whom Rivers is relying in order to provide solidity and toughness to a department in which they lacked structure in the past campaigns.
Also from the Rockets arrived guard Lou Williams, forwards Sam Dekker and Lo Montrezl Harrell, free agent Willie Reed who can split between forward or center, former New York Knicks center Marshall Plumlee, Jamil Wilson who signed on a two-way contract and Tyrone Wallace who was in free agency.
Free Agency Departures/Subtractions
Obviously, the Paul move to the Rockets was the highlight in this area. Yet, they were active as they let go several plaeyrs in order to make space for far more solid players.
One of their other starters, Moute left to the Rockets as well alongside Raymond Felton who joined Oklahoma City Thunder, Brandon Brass who opted to seek a new adventure in China with Liaoning Flying Leopards, Marreese Speights who joined the Orlando Magic's ranks and Alan Anderson who is still unattached, who all left as free agents.
Meanwhile, duo Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone were traded to the Atlanta Hawks. Crawford was bought out of his contract and went onto sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In conclusion, Paul Pierce left the Clippers to sign a one-day contract with the Boston Celtics before calling time on his illustrious career.
How can the Clippers be deployed next season:
PG: Austin Rivers/Patrick Beverley/Milos Teodosic/Jawun Evans
SG: Lou Williams/Sindarius Thornwell/Tyrone Wallace/C.J. Williams
SF: Danilo Gallinari/Wesley Johnson/Sam Dekker/Jamil Wilson
PF: Blake Griffin/Montrezl Harrell/Brice Johnson
C: DeAndre Jordan/Willie Reed/Marshall Plumlee
2018 NBA Draft Status
In next year's NBA Draft, the Clippers will have the 2018 second round pick from the Hawks which will be protected for selections between 31-55 while another second round draft pick will be sent to either the 6ers or the Knicks, with the more favourable will be sent to the former while the less favourable will be provided to the side from the big apple.
2017-18 Season Prediction
Most probably, they are still a long way from the powerhouse Golden State Warriors, both on the technical and quality aspect of the game.
Nonetheless, they have acquired players who will be filling spots which may have been a liability for them in the past years, therefore their weakest points may just have been enforced.
Without doubt, the Clippers focused on gaining more balance into their team in order to remain stable, especially when games will become more frequent and relevant as the season reaches its final stages.
The departure of Paul would have not been easy to digest for all the squad but on the other side, Griffin will have the opportunity to emerge as the main leader in the squad, especially if he can carry the offense responsibilities on his shoulders.
The team has the ability to register a 45-win season, if not more wins, considering they can be a tough team to overcome on home court and although they have some exciting talents, reaching the final stages of the post-season won't be a walk in the park for them.