Clippers Fall Behind, and It's Only July

Another Clipper off-season is progressing in a way that can only be called Clipperesque.

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That can mean a variety of things, but in this instance it means frustrating.

Sometimes it feels as if the other NBA teams are out on the track while the Clippers are on a treadmill.

An NBA source said Tuesday that the Clippers were close to an agreement with Cuttino Mobley. This the week after Bobby Simmons left for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Let's see: Mobley averaged 17.2 points a game for the Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings last season, Simmons 16.4 a game, giving the Clippers a net gain of 0.8 of a point.

Well, technically that's progress. It's just not very inspiring.

The Clippers: Movin' toward the playoffs, tenth by tenth.

Mobley will provide outside shooting and defense at the shooting guard position and give the Clippers a solid starting lineup along with Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman and Shaun Livingston.

All of those guys can play, but not one of them demands a double-team. None gives the Clippers an automatic matchup edge, game in and game out.

This makes two consecutive summers that the Clippers actually did things the right way, came correct with the cash ... and came away with little to show for it. Last year, they threw money at the feet of Kobe Bryant, but he stayed with the Lakers.

This year they tried for Seattle's Ray Allen (the best player on the market) and Michael Redd (the best shooter), but both took the most money they could get and re-signed with their teams at prices beyond what the collective bargaining agreement would allow the Clippers to offer.

And Simmons left for a surprising $9 million a year, a figure the Clippers never imagined they'd hear and weren't prepared to spend on a borderline starter.

It seems as if every imaginable force works against the Clippers.

There's the inertia of their losing ways � 12 years and counting since their last winning season � that prevents them from signing a veteran looking to play for a winner at a discount.

There's the law of supply and demand. With Allen, Redd and then Larry Hughes gone, the Clippers were forced to spend a premium on Mobley. You've all felt it at your fantasy league auctions, that time when there's only one guy left at a position, and other teams need him just as badly as you do.

They still have shopping left to do, but the big-time free agents are gone.

If the Clippers were unfortunate in free agency, though, they were unwise on draft day.

They selected Russian Yaroslav Korolev at No. 12, when Danny Granger of New Mexico and Gerald Green of Gulf Shore Academy were available.

Granger was one of the most polished players in the draft, and Green one of the most talented.

The Clippers must have some quota on high school players. After selecting Darius Miles out of East St. Louis High with the third pick in the 2000 draft, they sent the rights to Dominguez's Tyson Chandler to Chicago for Elton Brand in 2001. I loved that trade then, and still do.