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5 Clippers that could have been

Published by Axel on 1st October - 03:01 (CET)
A lot has changed for the Los Angeles Clippers in recent years. They've grown from a laughing stock, averaging a league low 10,000 fans per game into a respectful contender with more than 19,000 attending fans during home games.

Much of this is thanks to the success they've had in the draft towards the end of the 00's, selecting DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon among others. Before that though. Some weird picks.

5 Clippers that never sailed.
Picked 12th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft by Los Angeles Clippers.

As a mere 18-year-old, Moscow born Yaroslav Korolev helped CSKA Moscow win the 2005 Russian National Cup and the 2005 - 2006 Russian National Championship.

A fairly athletic 6'10" power forward with an ability to knock down the three. What is there not to like?
There was a lot not to like. In reality there was nothing at all to like about this guy as he rode out his two year long rookie contract playing exactly 168 minutes in 34 games.

After leaving the Clippers Korolev went back to Russia to play for his former arch rival Dynamo Moscow for a few seasons before he tried once again the get back into the NBA by declaring himself eligible for the 2009 NBA D-League Draft.

That obviously failed as he only got selected in the 4th round, just to be traded a few months after his selection. Again taking the route back to Europe Korolev never saw any more time in the NBA.

During his "full career" he averaged 1.1 points, 0.5 rebounds, 0.4 assists and 0.2 steals in 4.9 minutes per game while shooting .283 from the field .250 from three and .625 from the line. Impressive.
Picked 4th overall in the 2004 NBA Draft by Los Angeles Clippers.

Shaun Livingston got used to winning in grade school where he led Concordia Lutheran Grade School to LSA state titles back-to-back in 1999 and 2000.

The talented guard contiuned his success playing at Peoria Central High School, where he once again led his team to back-to-back titles. This time Class AA state titles in 2003 and 2004.
In 2004 he was also selected as a McDonald's All-American, a First-team Parade All-American and was named Illinois Mr. Basketball in 2004.

You get it, apart from Dwight Howard this kid was a level above most of the other kids in high school.
Livingston first chose to sign with the prestigious Duke University before changing his mind and declaring himself eligible for the 2004 NBA Draft.

Despite his age he was athletic, tall for a guard, had great wingspan and so much talent that he got selected with the 4th overall pick. Before other college prospects like Luol Deng, Devin Harris, Andre Iguodala and Jameer Nelson.

High school prospects usually take some time to develop but Livingston showed a lot of promise in his rookie season, averaging 7.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.4 blocks in 27 minutes per game even though he battled through a knee injury and only managed to play 30 games.

As the Clippers added All-Star point guard Sam Cassell before the 2005 - 2006 season he mostly played shooting guard instead of his natural point guard position during his sophomore season, taking a step back statistically. Much was still expected from Livingston, who played 60 games in his second season, twice as many games as he played during his rookie season.

He had an impressive start of his third season, averaging career highs in nearly every major category.
Then lightning struck. On February 26, 2007 in a games against Charlotte Bobcats Livingston was attempting a fast break layup when he landed awkwardly and his knee totally gave away (Warning, really strong footage), tearing his ACL, PCL, the lateral meniscus, dislocating his tibio-fibular joint and patella while also spraining his MCL big time.

Doctors even told Livingston that there was a chance that he might have to amputate his leg, but you don't need to be a doctor to understand how severe of an injury this was.
It took him months to be able to walk again and the Clippers chose not to offer him his almost $6 million qualifying offer, making Linvingston a free agent.

While it took some years he made an incredible recovery. 9 years and equally as many teams later Linvingston played an important role on the Warriors 2015 championship run, and if there ever was a Seventh Man of the Year Award, he'd be it.

Up this point of his career Shaun Livingston has played 622 regular seasons games, averaging 6.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.4 blocks per game while shooting .477 in field goal percentage.
Picked 3rd overall in the 2000 NBA Draft by Los Angeles Clippers.

Forward Darius Miles, another athletic youngster drafted straight out of high school, viewed upon in such high regards that he was ranked higher than most of the college prospects from that class.

The high flying Miles seemed like a perfect fit for the new showtime team the Clippers were trying to build in Los Angeles. When the draft came around and Miles got selected with the 3rd overall pick it was the highest position a player had ever been drafted directly from high school at the time.

He had a good rookie season, averaging 9.4 points, 5.9 points, 1.2 points, 0.6 steals and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting an impressive .505 in field goal percentage and earning NBA All-Rookie First Team honors, becoming the first high school draftee ever to do so.

As there were a lot of staff and teammates who saw a problem in Miles' bad attitude and the partying lifestyle he enjoyed in LA he only got to play one more season in Los Angeles, averaging about the same numbers as he did in his rookie season before the Clippers felt a need get rid of Miles and trade for a guard. In before the 2002 - 2003 season they therefore traded Miles and Harold Jamison to the Cavaliers in exchange for Andre Miller and Brynt Stith.

Cleveland had an awful season that year, ending with 17 - 65 record. As it turned out that was very good for the Cavaliers who then got the chance to draft Ohio native LeBron James.
Carlos Boozer was set as the their starting power forward and with LeBron James, Darius Miles and Ricky Davis on the roster the Cavs was so over stacked on wing players that LeBron actually was listed as a point guard during his very first NBA game!

Once again he was traded for another point guard, this time in mid season for Trail Blazers Jeff McInnis with center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje as a kicker.
After a strong first season in Portland Miles got awarded with a pay day. He signed a 6 year, $48 Million dollar contract and instantly stopped caring about basketball whatsoever.

He's even on record for saying that he "didn't care if they would lose the next 20 games" and "you're gone at the end of the season anyway" to head coach Mo Cheeks during practice.
When Cheeks asked Miles to leave he replied "Make me." and proceeded to shout "That's right, run to your daddy!" as Cheeks was walking off the court to see Blazers GM John Nash.

All of this combined with a few other incidents and some suspensions for breaking league drug violations made Portland desperate to get rid of Miles, and after a few injuries the finally got their chance as they waived him through a league rules regarding career ending injuries.

If a player gets waived after sustaining career ending injuries the team in question gets a cap relief for the remaining salary of that certain player. This is however reverted if that player plays in at least 10 games during the next season, so when Miles played six pre season games and later two more games with Memphis Grizzlies in January 2009, Miles was only two games away from forcing the Trail Blazers to terminate their cap relief.

And this is where shit got weird. To keep teams from playing Miles that season the Trail Blazers threatened to sue any of the other 29 teams who signed Miles with the intention of fucking up Portland's salary cap.
In response the NBPA then threatened to file a grievance against the Blazers and David Stern declared that any team was approved to sign Miles, the very next day. Which the Memphis Grizzlies then did. Ouch.

Darius Miles played 34 games in Memphis before leaving the NBA for good. In his full career he played 446 games, averaging 10.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.1 blocks per game.

Just two week ago, Miles filed for bankruptcy, but it gets worst further down the list..
Picked 1st overall in the 1998 NBA Draft by Los Angeles Clippers.

Playing for University of the Pacific 7 foot tall Nigerian center Michael Olowokandi had great success.
In 1997 - 1998, during his senior season he won the Big West Player of the Year award while averaging 22 points, 11 rebounds and blocks per game before declaring himself eligible for the 1998 NBA Draft.

As the 1998 - 1999 season was shortened due to a lockout Olowokandi only saw action in 45 games in his rookie season and opted to go overseas to play for Kinder Bologna in Italy before the NBA season could begin. Experiencing a shortened rookie season to adjust to the NBA game is usually not a good recipe for success in this league.

Even though he was such a good college player it was kind of unexpected of the Clippers to select him first overall as he was such a raw talent. To help refine him they hired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to serve as a mentor and trainer, just as he had previously done with Andrew Bynum of Los Angeles Lakers.

Olowokandi would'nt have any of it though, and these are Kareem's own words on the situation:

I have seen this process firsthand. When I coached for the Clippers, I had to deal with Michael Olowokandi, a player who perfectly fit the description "talented but uncoachable." At practice, I would attempt to point out Mr. Olowokandi's faults to him, ones he constantly repeated and resulted in lost possessions for the team or personal fouls that sent him to the bench. His reaction to my attempts to correct his bad habits was to take my input as a personal insult and embarrassment. He told me point-blank that he would not be criticized in front of the team. He stuck to his word and, as a result, had very few successful moments on the court playing the way he wanted to play. He took his place on the list of athletically gifted washouts who have been in and out of the league in the past 10 years.

Olowokandi averaged 12.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.5 steals and 2.2 blocks per game in his final season with the Clippers, still they chose not to resign him.
He played a few more injury riddled seasons with Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics without seeing much time on the floor before leaving the league for good.

Between 1998 and 2007, Michael Olowokandi played played 500 regular season games, averaging 8.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.5 steals and 1.4 blocks per game.

As Los Angeles could have selected Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, Antawn Jamison or Rashard Lewis this will forever be regarded as one of the worst draft picks in history.
Picked 7th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by Los Angeles Clippers.

Lorenzen Wright played high school ball at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was named a 1993-94 McDonald's All American before joining the University of Memphis to play for the Tigers.

In his second season as a Tiger, Wright averaged 17.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game while shooting .542 in field goal percentage. He was also named to the First-team All-Conference USA and Consensus second-team All-American, giving him enough confidence to declare himself eligible for the 1996 NBA Draft.

Wright played three seasons in LA averaging 7.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. Good, but not good enough as the Clippers resigned him only to trade him to the Hawks immediately after his rookie contract had ran out.

Even though he wasn't what the Clippers would have hoped for he was far from a bust.
Wright managed to stay in the league for a total of 12 years in which he played 778 regular season games, averaging 8.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.7 blocks in 23.8 minutes per game.
Most of his time was spent in his hometown with the Grizzlies, where he became a very beloved character by the community.

About a year after he had played his last game in the NBA, Wright left his ex-wive's house and was never seen alive again. According to an affidavit, Sherra Wright told police she saw him leave her home carrying money and a box of drugs. Before he left, Sherra Wright said she overheard her ex-husband on the telephone telling someone that he was going to "flip something for $110,000".

Wright was found dead on July 28 and his case remains unsolved. There is however a report about a 9-1-1 call on July 19 where the caller was speaking with the dispatcher when gunshots rang out, possibly being Wright's last call. His case is described as a homicide.

After news of his murder broke, it came out that Wright apparently had begun selling drugs, owing some serious money to the wrong people that he was unable to pay back.

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