April 6, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers Doc Rivers watches game action against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers: Sterling Saga Makes For Quick Rebuild

In the small amount of time the Los Angeles Clippers claimed themselves as the current kings of Los Angeles, the team formerly known as “Lob City” could be disbanded with their hallway rivals likely to sift through the devastation to pick up the scraps.

Clippers head coach and team president Doc Rivers has reiterated on multiple occasions to interim CEO Dick Parsons that he will not continue his tenure with the team if Donald Sterling remains as owner. Rivers leaving the Clippers would serve as a crippling domino effect for the Clippers. One that even Parsons acknowledged when called to the witness stand in Donald Sterling’s probate court battle versus his estranged wife Shelly Sterling over her agreement to sell the franchise to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for a record-breaking $2 billion.

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, Sterling was recently banned from the NBA for life over racist comments caught on tape.

“He’s as troubled, maybe more so, than anyone else,” Parsons testified this week. “If Mr. Sterling continues to own the team, he doesn’t think he wants to continue as coach.” Referring to Rivers as the team’s “father figure”, Parsons continued “If Doc would leave, that would be a disaster. The team believes in him and admires him. If he were to bail because of all the other circumstances surrounding him – the cloud – that’s going to accelerate the death spiral.”

What Parsons labeled as a death spiral should be more accurately described as a rigamortis tornado for the Clippers. One that could potentially breathe new life into the Los Angeles Lakers and other teams in the league.

While it’s more likely that judge Michael Levenas will rule in Shelly Sterling’s favor and allow speedy resolve for Ballmer’s acquisition of the Clippers, what’s actually happening in reality hasn’t prevented a few from speculating – as it never does.

Former player and current ESPN NBA Analyst Jalen Rose tweeted the possibility of the Lakers waiting to see what would unfold between Rivers as a result of the Sterling saga, various scenarios lit up the Internet with the main theme being the Lakers prying Rivers away from the Clippers.

Although the Lakers have already interviewed Byron Scott three times. In parallel fashion as to the nuances of rumors, the Lakers must be thinking “why ask a popular cheerleader to prom, when you might be able to take the prom queen?”

Far-fetched, but possible – as are most things in the NBA. Trades, free agents returning home, outlandish signings and other factors contribute to a league that’s never short on surprises.

Although Rose’s tweet obviously had no regards to Rivers’ contractual obligation with the Clippers, the idea that the Lakers franchise could be resuscitated by the Clippers misfortune was enough to build plausibility.

There’s actually a number of factors which make the Clippers loss the Lakers gain, however on a much broader scale. There’s the possibility of the Lakers not only securing Rivers, but a few Clippers players as well. Poetic justice for those who still feel a certain way about former NBA Commissioner David Stern yanking point guard stud Chris Paul away from the Lakers three years ago.

When the Sterling news broke, Houston Rockets owners Leslie Alexander proposed the idea of granting the Clippers players free agency. It’s a move that’s very possible, especially with NBPA Vice-President LeBron James prepared to lead a player boycott in the event Sterling is still the Clippers owner at the beginning of next season.

It’s more plausible due to the possible NBA lockout that most say is unavoidable in summer 2017. That will be the first year that either the owners or players can opt out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. With the lengthy legal process that would be required to remove the litigation savvy Sterling from ownership, the NBA will seek to avoid as much work stoppage as possible. Revenues lost from a player boycott and union strike one year later isn’t ideal for the NBA’s pockets or newly appointed commissioner Adam Silver’s beginning legacy.

In fact the NBPA already advised free agents to accept their annual payments over 18-month periods rather than the standard six or 12 months. Granting the Clippers players free agency would be a patch up job for a hole in a sinking boat. A hole that has the potential to hemorrhage revenue in the worst time – when the NBA will seek to negotiate a new TV deal.

Negotiations for the new TV deal are currently underway. The last television rights deal netted the league $7.5 billion over eight years. The next agreement is expected to double that amount. With such an increase in basketball related income, the players will most likely opt out of the current CBA to see that profit increase reflected in their paychecks.

If the Clippers players are granted free agency, it most likely wouldn’t happen until the end of training camp, or even the start of the regular season. That also presents a challenge for Silver. Most teams at that time will be over the cap, and with three max players on the Clippers team the league would have to institute one-time exceptions to grant teams the ability to land interested players.

Easy pitches for the Lakers… “Hey guys, no need to uproot your family to a different city.” “Hey Chris (Paul), you should’ve been our point guard all along.” With the Lakers in central position to pitch all Clippers players, they’d obviously have the leg up on the competition, and could benefit greatly from the mess that could be.

Crazier things have happened in this league.

Tags: Adam Silver Chris Paul Dick Parsons Doc Rivers Donald Sterling Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Lakers

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