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Los Angeles Clippers: Jerry West hiring and Inglewood Stadium are distractions a pivotal offseason

Despite Jerry West’s hiring and the new stadium negotiations, the Clippers still need to figure out how to keep their free agents in Los Angeles

The past week has been a great time for Clippers fans. In a span of seven days, the Clippers announced they would add NBA legend Jerry West as a consultant and they would begin negotiations for a new stadium in Inglewood California.

On one hand, the Clippers add a consultant who is credited with building two Lakers dynasties and assisting the current Warriors’ era. Additionally, the Clippers could actually move out of the physical shadow of their Staples center co-tenants, the Lakers.

Well both are promising news for L.A. Clippers faithful, they distract fans and media from a pivotal offseason that is already underway.

Instead of talking about the upcoming free agency of stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, who both have early termination options, the buzz surrounds the Clippers potential move to Inglewood in 2025 and West’s addition as a consultant this week. Do the Clippers know something that we do not? Could either star seriously leave Los Angeles and the team wants our attention elsewhere?

For instance, rumors added the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets as free agency suitors for Paul last week. Rumors also said Griffin could strongly consider the Celtics. The Thunder are also supposed to make a run at Griffin.

Although free agency rumors are speculation at this point, both stories got buried underneath the Clippers’ addition of West and negotiations for a stadium in Inglewood. Are these proactive moves to get the Clippers ready for the future, opposed to the short-term fortunes of the team that could lose both of its stars?

Moreover, there are already rumors that West could help persuade LeBron James to join the Clippers in free agency next season. Can Los Angeles get through this critical offseason first? L.A. will look at a drastically different roster if they do not retain Paul and Griffin. Los Angeles needs to worry about 2017 now and then they can consider James in 2018.

Granted, West’s addition could help keep the Clippers’ stars in Los Angeles. However, West’s hiring could signal that Los Angeles is preparing for a complete build. Maybe, the Clippers aren’t so sure they will keep both of their stars after all.

In his introductory press conference, West talked about accepting challenges and not fearing failure as one of the reasons for making the move to the Clippers from the Warriors. It remains to be seen if West’s next challenge includes getting the Clippers over the hump with Griffin and Paul or preparing for the next era via a rebuild.

Either way, adding West is the right step towards improving the winning culture of the Clippers. This winning culture should help pitch Griffin and Paul to stay. However, West’s hiring neither adds draft picks or cap space to the contender that desperately needs some immediately.West as a consultant does not immediately change the facts that the Clippers are stagnant with Paul and Griffin. The two stars have not been healthy for a deep postseason run and L.A. doesn’t have much flexibility to add to the supporting cast. West’s hiring doesn’t change either of those facts but maybe his notability helps  conceal that fact.

Additionally, West’s new role helps conceal the fact that Doc Rivers keeps his job as president and head coach despite not getting the team more postseason success than previous head coach Vinny Del Negro. Unlike Del Negro, Rivers has also had a huge hand in the reason why the Clippers do not have cap space or draft picks to retool around Griffin and Paul. Rivers made a lot of the rosters moves over the past few seasons.

As for the stadium news, it is great that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is taking the proactive approach to getting his new team a home that they have never had in franchise history. Still, the timing is a bit curious. The Clippers cannot leave Staples Center for more than five years. Why announce this now? Is this to get fans to start hoping for the future rather than focused on the team’s current uncertainty?

Nonetheless, the news deflected from the fact that the Clippers have zero picks in this week’s upcoming NBA Draft. The Clippers roommates in Staples Center, the Lakers, have the No. 2 pick and another later selection.

Thus, the stadium and West news gives Los Angeles a reason to talk positively about the Clippers when there might not be a lot of optimism around the organization in the coming weeks. These announcements keep the Clippers at the forefront of the sports conversation for something other than Paul and Griffin potentially walking in early July.

At the end of the day, Clippers fans should celebrate the addition of West and the start of a sans-Lakers’ stadium. Both are long-term wins for the franchise. However, no one should take their eyes off the storm that is rapidly approaching this offseason. The Clippers must figure out how to keep Paul and Griffin, while also adding to their surrounding cast.

If the Clippers lose either Paul or Griffin, West and the future stadium will not save the franchise from the negativity of Los Angeles’ sports fans and media. Nothing will save Rivers, Ballmer or the organization from trending towards irrelevancy if the Clippers do not get better on the court this offseason, n.

Do not applaud the Clippers for their future stadium and current consultant just yet. Los Angeles still needs to get through one of its most pivotal offseasons in recent memory.