|Los Angeles Clippers|
The Los Angeles Clippers (branded as the LA Clippers) are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles. The Clippers are a member of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The club's home games are played at the Crypto.com Arena, which they share with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Sparks.
The franchise was founded in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves, and were one of three expansion teams to join the NBA that year, along with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers. Led by league Most Valuable Player (MVP) Bob McAdoo, the Braves reached the playoffs three times during their eight seasons in Buffalo.
Conflicts with the Canisius Golden Griffins over the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium and the sale of the franchise led to their relocating from Buffalo to San Diego, California in 1978. Rebranded as the San Diego Clippers after the sailing ships seen in the San Diego Bay, the team saw little success and missed the playoffs during all six of their years in San Diego.
In 1984, the franchise was controversially relocated to Los Angeles by owner Donald Sterling without the approval of the NBA. Despite fines and a lawsuit brought on against franchise ownership by the NBA seeking to return the franchise to San Diego, the team was ultimately permitted to remain in Los Angeles, where they struggled for nearly three decades. Over the course of 27 seasons, the Clippers qualified for the postseason only four times and won a single playoff round. They were frequently considered a perennial loser in American professional sports, drawing unfavorable comparisons to the historically successful Lakers.
The Clippers' reputation improved during the 2010s, which saw them transform into consistent postseason contenders. Aided by the "Lob City" lineup of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Chris Paul, the team qualified to play in the NBA playoffs in five consecutive seasons from 2011 to 2017 and won two consecutive division titles in 2013 and 2014, both firsts for the franchise.
Despite this success, however, the Clippers have struggled in the postseason and were frequently eliminated in the Conference Semifinals in excruciating fashion; the team finally reached the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history in 2021. To date, they are the league's oldest franchise to have never played in the NBA Finals.
San Diego Clippers
- San Diego Sports Arena (1978–1984)
Los Angeles Clippers
- Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (1984–1999)
- Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim (1994–1998) (occasional games)
- Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center) (1999–2024)
- Intuit Dome (beginning in 2024)
Proposed Inglewood arena
On June 15, 2017, the Clippers and the city of Inglewood entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement in which the team plans to build a new privately funded 18,000–20,000–seat arena, Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center, planning to open by 2024, when the Clippers' current lease with Staples Center expires. The planned arena is expected to be located at Century Boulevard between Yukon and Prairie Avenues, directly south of SoFi Stadium, the home of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers of the National Football League. The arena is also expected to house a practice facility and team headquarters for the Clippers, as the team's current practice facility in Los Angeles' Playa Vista neighborhood is still owned by the Sterling Family Trust, and is leased back to the team. The Inglewood city council unanimously voted for the agreement in which a subsidiary of the Clippers will purchase 22 acres covering four large city blocks in what is largely a lower–class/lower middle–class residential neighborhood (Century to the north, 104th Street to the south, Yukon to the east, and Prairie to the west) to build the new facility.
The planned arena, however, was met with immediate opposition from the nearby Forum and its operator, the Madison Square Garden Company (parent company of the New York Knicks), as they accused both the Clippers and the Inglewood city government of "backroom dealing" and the fear that a new Clippers' arena will siphon events from the recently renovated sports arena–turned–concert venue.
On July 25, 2019, The Clippers released new images of the proposed arena, construction is planned to begin in 2021 and is planned to be complete in fall 2024, following the expiration of the Clippers' lease with the Staples Center.
In March 2020, Steve Ballmer, owner of the Clippers, reached an agreement with the Madison Square Garden Company to buy The Forum, which would eliminate any opposition related to the construction of the Clippers' new arena.
On September 17, 2021, the Clippers unveiled the first renditions of the new arena with an expected cost of up to $2 billion. The team also revealed the arena's name as the Intuit Dome through a 23-year naming rights deal with Intuit worth $500 million.
Buffalo Braves (1970–1978)
The Braves, in their eight seasons in Buffalo, played their home games at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, sharing the arena with another new franchise, the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League, who also debuted in 1970. The team's first head coach was Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes, the franchise's first star players were Bob Kauffman and Don May, who were acquired in the 1970 NBA Expansion Draft. However, in the NBA Draft of 1970, Buffalo passed on hometown hero Calvin Murphy, a 5 foot 9 point guard from Niagara University. Murphy would eventually be inducted into the Hall Of Fame. As typical of first–year expansion teams, the Braves finished with a dismal record, going 22–60, seven games ahead of expansion–mate Cleveland, which finished its season at 15–67. Kauffman, who averaged 4.3 points per game the previous year with the Chicago Bulls, led Buffalo in scoring with 20.4 points per game and earned a spot on the 1971 NBA Eastern Conference All–Star team.
The Braves repeated their 22–60 record in the following 1971–72 season, but did make good acquisitions that would make the club better. Buffalo drafted center Elmore Smith from Kentucky State University, and local favorite Randy Smith, from Buffalo State College. Schayes was replaced one game into the season with John McCarthy as the team's head coach. The team did not do much better in the 1972–73 season, as they went 21–61 under new head coach, Dr. Jack Ramsay. The Braves' big move that season was drafting forward/center Bob McAdoo, from North Carolina. The team finally made its first playoff appearance in 1973–74, where they faced the Boston Celtics in the first round and lost in six games. In 1974–75, Bob McAdoo was awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, averaging 34.5 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.12 blocks per game, while shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 80.5 percent from the free–throw line. The Braves made a trip to the playoffs in the 1974–75 season and again during the 1975–76 season, which would be one of their last in Buffalo. During the last four seasons, the Braves played a total of 16 games in Toronto, Ontario at Maple Leaf Gardens in the hopes of expanding their fan base from Western New York to also include the Greater Toronto Area.
By the summer of 1976, the team's founding owner Paul Snyder was doing all he could to sell the team. The June 15, 1976 issue of Buffalo's Courier–Express blasted the headline "Braves Go to Florida, Leaving 'Hockey Town'." Snyder had a handshake deal to sell the team to Mr. and Mrs. Irving Cowan, who would move the Braves to Hollywood, Florida, yet the City of Buffalo filed a $10 million damage suit to block the move. The sale eventually fell through and the Braves and the city signed a new 15 year Memorial Auditorium lease in July with a provision that the lease could be voided if the team did not sell 5,000 season tickets in any season. Later that summer Snyder finally sold 50 percent of the franchise to businessman John Y. Brown, Jr., who had previously owned the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association. Brown later acquired the remaining half from Snyder sometime in the 1976–77 season. Brown, in turn, sold a percentage of the team to another businessman, Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. who later went on to own a portion of the Boston Celtics in the 1980s. However, a provision in the transaction stipulated that if Brown sold the contract of any Braves player, then the money would go to Snyder and the purchase price would be reduced. This subsequently occurred when the Braves sent McAdoo to the New York Knicks for players and cash midway through the 1976–77 season.
Because of the team's poor play in its final two years (30–52 in 1976–77 and 27–55 in 1977–78), along with rumors of the franchise relocating because of low season ticket sales, John Y. Brown met with the then–owner of the Celtics, Irv Levin and negotiated a deal in which the owners would swap franchises, in which Brown would take control of the Celtics and Levin would get the Braves. Levin was a California businessman, and wanted to own an NBA team in his native state. The deal was brokered by David Stern, the general counsel for the NBA who later became the league's commissioner in 1984. Following what would be the final season in western New York, the NBA owners voted 21–1 to let the Braves relocate. They moved to San Diego, California after the 1977–78 season, and became the San Diego Clippers.
San Diego Clippers (1978–1984)
In 1978, San Diego welcomed the relocation of the Buffalo Braves franchise, as the city's previous NBA franchise, the San Diego Rockets, had relocated to Houston seven years earlier in 1971. San Diego team officials did not think "Braves" was a proper representative nickname for the club in San Diego, and a local naming contest ultimately decided on "Clippers", in reference to the city being known for the great sailing ships that passed through San Diego Bay.
Playing at the San Diego Sports Arena, the Clippers posted a record of 43–39 in their first season in California under new head coach Gene Shue, leaving them two wins shy of the final playoff spot. World B. Free, acquired before the season from the Philadelphia 76ers, finished second overall in NBA scoring average, with 28.9 per game (George Gervin of the San Antonio Spurs had a 29.6 average). It was also in this first season in Southern California that long–time announcer Ralph Lawler began his association with the franchise. The 1979–80 season saw the Clippers begin to struggle, despite adding center Bill Walton, a San Diego native who was two years removed from winning an NBA Championship and the NBA Most Valuable Player Award with the Portland Trail Blazers. Walton missed 68 games in his first season in San Diego due to foot injuries (which he also suffered in his final years in Portland). San Diego finished 35–47, as Walton and other key players missed significant time due to injuries. Free again finished second in league scoring, with 30.2 points per game. Paul Silas replaced Shue as head coach the following season, and the Clippers finished 36–46, again missing the postseason. Walton missed the entire season due to foot injuries, while Free was traded to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for guard Phil Smith.
The 1981–82 season brought changes to the franchise as Levin sold the team to Los Angeles–area real estate developer and attorney Donald Sterling for $12.5 million. The Clippers experienced poor play, as foot injuries again caused Walton to miss the entire season, and the team limped to a 17–65 record. Franchise mismanagement and rumors of a move to Sterling's home town of Los Angeles plagued the team from the onset of Sterling's acquisition. Additionally, like what happened in Buffalo, competition from the other local sports teams (the Padres and Chargers were both excelling at this time) further took attention away from the Clippers. The team's final two seasons in San Diego were not much better despite Walton finally returning to the court, finishing 25–57 in 1982–83 and 30–52 in 1983–84.
In 1984, Sterling moved the Clippers north to Los Angeles without league approval. The NBA subsequently fined Sterling $25 million for violating league rules and filed a lawsuit demanding the franchise be returned to San Diego. The league threatened to dissolve the franchise if ownership did not comply and return the team to San Diego. Sterling then filed a lawsuit of his own against the league for $100 million, but ultimately dropped the suit when the league eventually agreed to drop their suit, allowing him to keep the team in Los Angeles, while decreasing his fine to $6 million.
Los Angeles Clippers (1984–present)
1984–1989: Move to Los Angeles, and early struggles
In 1984, despite the pending lawsuits between franchise ownership and the NBA following the move, the Clippers moved to Los Angeles, California, playing at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. The Clippers, under head coach Jim Lynam finished with a disappointing 31–51 record.
The Clippers' early days in Los Angeles were marred with many seasons of hapless performances. Despite fielding a squad of talented veterans, the organization suffered systematic injuries to many of its star players. The phenomenon was dubbed the "Clipper Triangle" by some sports writers. Derek Smith suffered a knee injury during the 1985–86 season, followed by Norm Nixon (knee) and Marques Johnson (spinal cord) the following season. The team's 12–70 finish in the 1987 season was the second–worst single–season record in NBA history at the time (and is now the third–worst winning percentage in NBA history, behind the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers and the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats). That same season also saw Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor join the team as the general manager and vice president of basketball operations. Nixon suffered an ailing Achilles tendon in 1987–88 season, while number one draft pick rookie Danny Manning injured his anterior cruciate ligament during the 1988–89 campaign.
1989–1994: Playoff appearances
The Clippers traded the rights to the recently drafted Danny Ferry and Reggie Williams for high–scoring shooting guard Ron Harper at the start of the 1989–90 season. Los Angeles had a 19–19 record nearly halfway into the season, prompting some to seriously consider the team as a possible playoff contender. That move, along with the 1987 NBA draft of Ken Norman, the 1988 selections of Danny Manning and Charles Smith (Smith was acquired from Philadelphia in exchange for the draft rights to Hersey Hawkins), and the 1990 draft of Loy Vaught, formed a nucleus that would make the franchise a playoff contender.
Midway through the 1991–92 season, the Clippers made yet another coaching change. Larry Brown, who was fired by the Spurs weeks before, was hired as the team's head coach in late January 1992. He replaced Mike Schuler, who had led the team to a 22–25 record before his firing. Brown finished the season with a 23–12 mark, for an overall record of 45–37. It was the franchise's first winning season in 13 years. The team also achieved a first that season–for the first time since moving to Los Angeles, the Clippers finished with a better record than the Los Angeles Lakers. The Clippers advanced to the playoffs for the first time in 16 years (since they were Buffalo), but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Utah Jazz, 3–2. Due to the late April 1992 Los Angeles riots, Game 4 of the series was moved to the Anaheim Convention Center, and the Clippers won that game. The Clippers returned to the playoffs again in the 1992–93 season with a 41–41 regular season record, but lost again in five games in the first round, this time to the Houston Rockets.
Brown left the Clippers to join the Indiana Pacers as their head coach, and Bob Weiss was brought in to replace him. That 1993–94 season proved to be one of the worst seasons in Los Angeles NBA history, with both the Clippers (27–55) and Lakers (33–49) going a combined 60–104 in the regular season, and both LA teams missed the playoffs. After one year on the job, Weiss was fired, and veteran head coach Bill Fitch was brought in to guide a roster of young and inexperienced players. The Clippers continued to make frequent roster and coaching changes throughout the next several years and made a playoff appearance in 1997, under Fitch. That team made the playoffs with a losing record (36–46) and were swept in the first round by the eventual Western Conference Champion Utah Jazz, 3 games to none.
1994–2000: Fitch, Anaheim, and the move to Staples Center
Anaheim relocation talks
Anaheim, a suburb approximately thirty miles south of Downtown Los Angeles in affluent Orange County, expressed interest in obtaining an NBA franchise. The city, expecting to lose the NFL's Los Angeles Rams (who relocated to St. Louis in 1995 for 21 seasons, before moving back to Los Angeles in 2016), was looking for a new professional team and began courting the Clippers, who struggled carving out an identity competing against the popular Lakers for audience share. From 1994 to 1999, the Clippers played several games annually (usually five to eight regular season games a season, and an annual preseason game) at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, sharing the venue with the NHL's Ducks and the Splash indoor soccer team. Clippers games regularly drew a much–higher average attendance per game at the Pond than when the team played its home games at their regular venue, the Los Angeles Sports Arena; the Anaheim games proved so popular that many Clippers players and much of the fan base, as well as the NBA, wanted to the team to stay in what was considered at the time a state–of–the–art arena. For instance, between 1994 and 1997, the Clippers drew an average of nearly 16,000 fans per game at the Pond, while in Los Angeles, they drew in the neighborhood of 9,200 per home game. Anaheim officials and the Clippers had had on–going talks about moving to Anaheim full–time years before the Pond was eventually built, as Donald Sterling was pursuing options to play elsewhere in the Los Angeles metropolitan region if there was not a replacement for the Sports Arena being built.
The Clippers, however, nearly moved to Anaheim permanently in time for the 1996–97 season, but according to a Los Angeles Times article published in June 1996, owner Donald Sterling turned down a deal that would have paid the team $95 million over 12 years. Odgen Corporation, who at the time managed the Pond, and the city of Anaheim offered the Clippers a multi–tiered deal that would have included upwards of $33 million paid to the team over the first six years of their Pond agreement, plus other monies allocated towards new locker rooms, team offices, and a practice facility. In another related Times article, Odgen and Sterling were in talks to have the management company take care of the Clippers' day–to–day operations for a $4 million a year fee. Also at the time, the Walt Disney Company, owners of the Ducks and Anaheim Angels baseball team during that period, were pursuing at least a partial ownership of the Clippers, with the key element being that its game telecasts would be part of a planned ESPN regional network for Southern California. However, as the planned ESPN West network never came to reality, all three teams had continued to maintain broadcast partnerships with Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket. This remained a sticking point in any deal to relocate to Anaheim, eventually leaving the team to remain in Los Angeles.
The Bill Fitch era
On the court, the Clippers continued to make frequent roster changes throughout this particular period, which only resulted with one playoff appearance under Fitch. Along with Loy Vaught, a collection of young players (including Lamond Murray, Eric Piatkowski, and Lorenzen Wright), and journeyman veterans (among them Pooh Richardson, Tony Massenburg, Rodney Rogers, Darrick Martin, and Brian Williams), the Fitch–coached teams during this particular era struggled mightily, although they did make the playoffs once during this time. The 1996–97 team made the playoffs with a losing record (36–46) and were swept in the first round by the eventual Western Conference Champion Utah Jazz, three games to none.
Four members of the 1996–97 squad are now deceased. Malik Sealy died in a car accident in 2000, Kevin Duckworth died of heart disease in 2008, Lorenzen Wright went missing and was murdered in 2010, and Dwayne Schintzius died from cancer complications in 2012. Two other players from the Fitch era suffered tragic circumstances of their own; Brian Williams (who played for the Clippers during the 1995–96 season, and later became known as Bison Dele) was believed to have been murdered by his brother while the two were vacationing in 2002 while in the South Pacific, and Rodney Rogers became paralyzed after a dirt bike crash in 2008 in his native North Carolina.
In December, Vaught, the team's leading scorer for the past three seasons, had season–ending back surgery. Without Vaught, the Clippers finished 17–65, the third–worst record in the league. Fitch was fired after the 1997–98 season (and later sued the team to recover the remaining money on his contract), and was replaced by one of his proteges, former Celtics and Bucks coach Chris Ford. Meanwhile, Vaught's career as a Clipper was effectively finished, as he left as a free agent after that season, and signed with the Detroit Pistons; at the time of his departure, he was the franchise's all–time rebounds leader with 4,471 (a number that was later surpassed by Elton Brand, with 4,710).
The Clippers won the first overall pick in the 1998 Draft Lottery and selected center Michael Olowokandi from University of the Pacific. The team had a 0–17 start and finished with a 9–41 record in the shortened 1998–99 season. They were led by second–year forward Maurice Taylor, who averaged 16.8 points per game, and won the fourth overall pick in the following draft, which coincided with their move to the Staples Center. The Clippers would draft Lamar Odom, and then hired former All–Star (and Los Angeles native) Dennis Johnson as an assistant coach, as well as Hall of Fame former Laker great Kareem Abdul–Jabbar to help tutor Olowokandi during his second–year. Johnson remained an assistant coach until the middle of the 2002–03 season, when he took over as head coach. Abdul–Jabbar remained only one season, detailing a lack of improvement in Olowokandi, who is largely considered one of the biggest draft busts in league history.
During the 1999 offseason, Rodney Rogers signed with the Phoenix Suns. The Clippers also sent Lamond Murray to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Derek Anderson and Johnny Newman. However, Newman was then traded to the New Jersey Nets for Eric Murdock a month later without ever playing a game for the Clippers. The team finished with the worst record in the league (15–67) in the 1999–2000 season, while their crosstown rival Lakers had the best record that year (67–15) and would go on to win the NBA Finals.
Move to Staples Center
In what was supposed to be a counter–move, the Coliseum Commission, the management entity that managed the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and Coliseum, had planned to build a new 18,700–seat arena in the parking lot next to the Sports Arena that would have cost up to $94 million, that would have included 1,100 club seats, 84 luxury suites, and an on–site practice facility for the Clippers. However, those plans were scuttled once planning for Staples Center (two miles directly up the street from the Sports Arena) were taking place, and the Clippers decided to become a tenant at Staples.
In 1999, the Clippers joined the Lakers and Los Angeles Kings in the new Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles. In sharing the building with other tenants, such as the more popular Lakers, the Clippers, with relatively low success, were often overshadowed. Also, because of the terms of its leasing agreement with Staples Center, the Kings and Lakers had scheduling priority over the Clippers, with the Clippers taking whatever dates that were available, including scheduling same–day Clipper–Laker and Clipper–King doubleheaders. However, in the years after, the Clippers' scheduling at Staples Center became gradually more favorable (especially given the popularity of the team in recent years) in their lease renewals in 2004 and 2013, with the team receiving increased profits, including more of a share of luxury suite and concession revenue.
2000–2009: Further struggles at Staples Center
The 2000–01 season brought more changes. Reserve forward Derek Strong was sent to the Orlando Magic in exchange for second–year forward Corey Maggette and the draft rights to guard Keyon Dooling from the University of Missouri. The Clippers' two draft picks that year were childhood friends from Illinois: high schooler Darius Miles from East St. Louis (3rd overall pick) and Quentin Richardson, a guard/forward from DePaul University (18th overall pick). The team became popular among fans with their high–flying style of basketball and the Clippers did improve a bit with a 31–51 record, leading the NBA in bench–scoring with 37 points per game.
To improve upon the previous season, the Clippers acquired high–scoring and rebounding power forward Elton Brand from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for the draft rights to Los Angeles–area native and high schooler Tyson Chandler. At this point of his career, Brand had career averages of 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in just two seasons. Brand's hard work and accomplishments earned him a spot on the 2002 NBA Western Conference All–Star team as an injury replacement for center Shaquille O'Neal of the Lakers. The Clippers contended for most of the season, but won only 3 out of their last 13 games and finished 39–43, 5 games out of the final playoff position.
The 2002 offseason brought more changes, as Miles was traded to the Cavaliers in exchange for point guard Andre Miller, who led the NBA in assists in 2001–02 with 11 per game. Suddenly, with a good point guard in Miller, the playmaker Lamar Odom at small forward, one of the league's best power forwards, Elton Brand, the emerging center Michael Olowokandi, and a very good supporting cast off the bench, the Clippers could've made a serious run for the playoffs. However, with poor team chemistry and injuries (the Clippers lost 293 man–games to injury), the Clippers finished with a very disappointing 27–55 record. Head coach Alvin Gentry was replaced by Dennis Johnson midway through the 2002–03 season.
In the 2003–04 season, the Clippers lost many of their core players to free agency (Miller, Odom, Olowokandi, and forward Eric Piatkowski––one of the longest–tenured players in Clippers history, while opting to retain Brand and Maggette with long–term contracts. They, along with Richardson, made up one of the NBA best high–scoring trios, with a combined 58 points per game. With new head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr., the Clippers finished at 28–54, a lot due to inexperience and injuries.
The 2004–05 season saw the Clippers, although also missing the playoffs, finish with a better record than the Lakers for the first time since 1993 and have great hope for the future, with young rising stars such as Brand, Corey Maggette and Shaun Livingston. Bobby Simmons won the 2004–05 NBA Most Improved Player award after averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. As a result of that, Simmons cashed in on his newfound fame, and signed a 5–year, $47 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks in July 2005, playing closer to his hometown of Chicago.
To counter Simmons' defection to Milwaukee, the Clippers announced days later that they would sign guard Cuttino Mobley to a contract similar in years (5) but less in money ($42 million) to what Simmons received from the Bucks. Mobley was the first significant free agent signing from outside the organization since Bill Walton in late 1970s. Mobley officially signed his contract on August 3, 2005.
More deals were made, most notably on August 12, 2005, where the Clippers traded guards Marko Jaric (in a sign and trade transaction) and Lionel Chalmers to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for guard Sam Cassell and a lottery–protected 1st round pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. In relation to the lottery–protected pick, in order for the Clippers to acquire the pick, the Timberwolves would have to make the playoffs, or else Minnesota retains its draft pick.
During the summer of 2005, the Clippers announced that they would build a state–of–the–art practice facility (the first NBA practice facility within the four corners of the City of Los Angeles) in the Playa Vista development. Several current players on the Clippers' lineup live in the planned community. According to the Clippers' website, the new facility will open its doors for community programs in the off–season and will be surrounded by other community parks and recreation.
The 2005–06 season was a turning point for the team's overall image; a hot start marked by several wins over top teams caught the attention of many fans. Before the 2005–06 season, the Clippers drafted young Yaroslav Korolev. Elton Brand was chosen as a reserve power forward for the All–Star Game and articles have been run in many sports magazines giving recognition to the much improved team. Just before the NBA trading deadline, the Clippers traded power forward Chris Wilcox to the Seattle SuperSonics for forward Vladimir Radmanović. The Clippers had been lacking consistent outside shooting which is what they were looking for in the trade.
While the team had a few stretches of poor play, they were able to maintain a solid record, including posting several winning streaks. They achieved their first winning record in 14 seasons, and clinched their first playoff spot since 1997. They also finished with a better record than the Lakers for the second straight year. By finishing sixth in the Western Conference, with a record of 47–35 (their highest finish since the team left Buffalo), they benefited from the current NBA playoff format of regular season records taking precedence over winning the division, and secured home court advantage over the Denver Nuggets.
On April 22, 2006, facing the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs, the Clippers won their first NBA playoff game in 13 years. Two days later, they won their second playoff game, going 2–0 against an opponent for the first time in franchise history. Although they won the first 2 games, they lost Game 3, but they won Game 4. On Monday, May 1, 2006, they won Game 5 in Los Angeles and their first playoff series since they moved from Buffalo.
The team faced the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals. The Suns had previously defeated the Clippers' Staples Center co-tenants, the Los Angeles Lakers, in seven games in the First Round after being down 3–1 in the series. After losing in game one (130–123 in Phoenix), the Clippers beat the Suns in an impressive 122–97 victory in Game 2. The series shifted to Staples Center for game 3, and the Suns beat the Clippers, 94–91, as Suns forward Shawn Marion scored 32 points and grabbed a game–high 19 rebounds. In game four, Elton Brand posted 30 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists as the Clippers evened the series on May 14, 2006 with a 114–107 victory over the Suns. In game five, Suns guard/forward Raja Bell made a key 3–pointer with 1.1 seconds left in the first overtime to send the game into a second overtime. Phoenix beat Los Angeles in this double–overtime "thriller" game, 125–118. The double–overtime loss for the Clippers, to say the least, was devastating, but they bounced back with a convincing, series–saving 118–106 Game 6 win over the Suns. Second–year defensive specialist Quinton Ross had a timely offensive game, scoring a then career–high 18 points. Elton Brand had another excellent contribution, with 30 points (his scoring average in this particular series), 12 rebounds, three assists, and five blocks. Corey Maggette came off the bench to score 25 points, with 7–8 shooting from the field, and 9–9 from the free throw line. Chris Kaman and Sam Cassell each scored 15 points apiece. Marion once again led Phoenix in scoring, with 34 points, with reserve guard Leandro Barbosa scoring 25 points off the bench for the Suns. The Clippers lost the seventh game to Phoenix 127–107.
The 2006 off–season started as the team drafted center Paul Davis from Michigan State University in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft, as the 34th overall pick. The pick was acquired by the Clippers by way of a 2004 trade with the Charlotte Bobcats for center/forward Melvin Ely. The team also drafted guard Guillermo Diaz from the University of Miami as the 52nd overall pick. While Davis signed with the team in July, Diaz was not signed, and decided to play overseas. However, the team still holds his draft rights. The Clippers did not have a pick in the 2006 draft's first round.
Meanwhile in free agency, on July 13, 2006, the Clippers scored a major coup, by signing forward Tim Thomas away from divisional rival Phoenix, in a four–year, $24 million deal. That was to counter the defection of forward Vladimir Radmanović to the crosshall Lakers in a somewhat similar deal to what Thomas got from the Clippers, except Radmanovic signed for an extra year, but both players would make the same amount of money annually, which would be $6 million.
Also on July 13, guard Sam Cassell (widely credited as the biggest reason for the Clippers' recent success) signed a two–year, $13 million deal. Cassell stated in interviews that once he retires, which would be likely after this contract runs out, he would like to join the Clippers' coaching staff under Mike Dunleavy, Sr. Also, on August 1, the team signed veteran forward/center Aaron Williams (previously with the then–New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets) to an undisclosed deal. Williams played for Dunleavy with the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1994–95 season.
To further their television commitment to their local fans, on August 11, the Clippers and KTLA–TV announced a three–year contract extension, which would increase KTLA's annual 25–game commitment to 30 games a year, plus selected playoff games not airing exclusively on ABC or TNT. Just like during the last two seasons, KTLA will air all of its Staples Center–based Clippers telecasts in high definition. Until recently, they were the only local team to currently air its over–the–air broadcasts in HDTV; KCAL–TV aired its first HDTV Lakers broadcast on February 2, 2007, versus the Indiana Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Fifteen of the 30 annual KTLA telecasts air on KSWB–TV in San Diego, KTLA's sister station; although KTLA is already available on cable in the San Diego market.
The increased demand for Clippers games has also led to the scheduling of twelve true nationally–televised Clippers games on TNT and ESPN. The team will also have eight additional games on NBA TV; NBA TV normally uses the home team telecast's video feed and announcers, while using its own on–screen score and graphics, therefore, their presentations are not considered true, self–produced national broadcasts, such as the case with ESPN, TNT, and ABC. This brings the total of nationally–televised games to 20, the most ever in franchise history.
On September 7, the Clippers announced a radio broadcast deal with KSPN–AM, the local ESPN Radio–operated outlet.
The team, though, did not fully perform to expectations, in comparison to the previous season. A lot of this has been attributed to lack of a team chemistry and injuries to several key players, including Cassell, Thomas, Livingston, and Kaman. Players such as Luke Jackson, Alvin Williams, and Doug Christie were signed to 10–day contracts to help solidify the team's bench. Jackson and Alvin Williams only lasted through portions of the January schedule and each had limited playing time, while Christie signed with the team on January 31. Christie was not retained, and was suspended on the final day of his second 10–day contract with the team, due to Christie's desire to not return to the team, because of the team's lack of on–court direction. Christie was released from the team on February 21.
In one of most of the devastating injuries this season, guard Shaun Livingston severely dislocated his left knee in which he tore every ligament in his knee. This occurred with 8:10 left in the first quarter of a home game versus the Charlotte Bobcats on February 26, 2007 at Staples Center, as Livingston was driving to the basket, where he missed the lay–up, and came down awkwardly on his left knee. The extent of the injury was so severe, local news outlets such as KCBS–TV/KCAL–TV and KNBC–TV elected not to air the clip of Livingston's injury on their sports reports. According to the team's lead physicoan, Dr. Tony Daly, Livingston's prognosis for him to return to basketball activity from the point in time of his injury is eight months (which would put it at around the first week of the upcoming season) to a full calendar year. The Clippers, which were expected by many to make the playoffs again after their surprise appearance the season before, finished the season 40–42, 2 games behind the 8th–seeded Warriors. On May 22, the Clippers received the fourteenth draft pick from the NBA lottery. The draft was on June 28 in New York. The Clippers selected Al Thornton a combo forward from Florida State University. The Clippers used their second–round pick to draft a point guard Jared Jordan with their 45th pick.
The 2007–08 season started off on a negative note, with Elton Brand on the disabled list because of a ruptured left Achilles tendon, and Shaun Livingston still out with the devastating injury he sustained from the previous year. Brand missed most of the 2007–08 year, and the Clippers struggled to stay competitive in the Western Conference. Chris Kaman was one of the lone bright spots for the Clippers, and took advantage of a depleted roster by averaging 15.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game throughout the season, but was limited to playing 56 games due to various injuries. The Clippers ended the season with a record of 23–59, 12th in the Western Conference and last in the Pacific Division.
The Clippers saw the departure of several players, including Elton Brand and Corey Maggette, and acquisitions of ten players either by draft, free agency or trades.
On July 1, 2008, Baron Davis, a Los Angeles native and formerly of the Golden State Warriors, verbally agreed to and signed (on July 10) a five–year contract with the Clippers, worth an estimated $65 million.
After a disappointing 2007–08 season, the Clippers obtained the 7th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, and selected Eric Gordon out of Indiana University. The team also selected DeAndre Jordan from Texas A&M University in the second round (35th overall pick). Another second–round pick, Mike Taylor from the NBA D–League's Idaho Stampede and Iowa State University (55th overall pick), was acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for a future second–round pick. Gordon officially signed with the team on July 7, while Jordan and Taylor both signed on July 15.
Also on July 15, the Clippers acquired forward–center Marcus Camby from the Denver Nuggets in return for a $10 million trade exception and the choice to exchange second round picks with the Clippers in 2010. On July 23, the Clippers also acquired guard Jason Hart from the Utah Jazz in exchange for guard Brevin Knight. On July 28, the Clippers signed guard Ricky Davis to a one–year deal, with a player option for a second year . The Clippers continued their active offseason with signing reserve forward–center (and one–time Clipper) Brian Skinner on July 31, and traded for reserve forward Steve Novak on August 6 for future second–round pick considerations, in a deal similar to the Camby trade.
Recently, the Los Angeles Clippers re–signed forward Paul Davis. The Clippers signed three Davis' (Baron, Ricky, and Paul) in their "rebuilding offseason" in which they obtained key players such as Baron Davis, Marcus Camby, Ricky Davis, and Jason Williams. However, just prior to the start of training camp, Williams announced his retirement on September 26.
On October 7, according to reports from various sources including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, and the team's own web site (Clippers.com), Elgin Baylor ended his 22–year reign as vice president and general manager of basketball operations. It was one of the longest such tenures in professional sports history. The Clippers have indicated that Baylor had retired from his post, and as a result, head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr. will also assume the role as general manager, while director of player personnel Neil Oshley is promoted to assistant general manager.
In many of those same reports, including a related article in the October 8 edition of the Times, it was also indicated that Baylor had either been fired, resigned, or retired, depending on the source. According to similar reports, Baylor had been offered a different position in the organization, with the same salary, but with little to none decision–making power; Baylor refused. In fact, when pressed about his stauts with the franchise, Baylor had been advised by his attorneys not to say anything, indicating that the team and Baylor are in negotiations to work out a settlement agreement based on his departure. According to the above–mentioned article, Baylor had been working without a formal contract since the early 1990s.
On November 21, the Clippers and New York Knicks made a trade, in which Los Angeles sends forward Tim Thomas and guard Cuttino Mobley to New York, in exchange for forward Zach Randolph and reserve guard Mardy Collins. With the trade of Mobley, only one member of their 2005–06 playoff team remains on the roster––starting center Chris Kaman. On December 11, Mobley announced his retirement due to the heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Mobley has yet to play a game for the New York Knicks after the trade.
2009–2011: Blake Griffin's arrival and steady improvement
In May 2009, the Clippers won the first overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and selected Blake Griffin. To clear a spot in the lineup for him, they traded Zach Randolph to Memphis for Quentin Richardson. Richardson was then traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Sebastian Telfair, Craig Smith, and Mark Madsen.
Griffin immediately impressed in training camp and preseason. On October 23, he broke his kneecap during the Clippers' final exhibition game against the New Orleans Hornets, following a dunk. Initially, the Clippers' stated that he only had a sore left knee, which would make him questionable for the season opener the following night, before they revealed the break. The injury sidelined Griffin for the entire season.
On February 4, 2010, head coach Mike Dunleavy resigned, and Kim Hughes was named interim coach. Dunleavy retained his front–office title and duties for just over a month, but on March 10 he was fired as General Manager, being replaced by Neil Olshey. Dunleavy received the news of his dismissal from the internet, as well as friends and reporters calling his cell phone. The Los Angeles Times reported that Dunleavy had filed for arbitration and that the Clippers had cut off his salary, even though his guaranteed contract did not end until after the 2010–2011 season. Although the Clippers saw minor improvement, finishing with ten more wins at 29–53, Hughes was fired as head coach at the end of the season.
In July, former Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro was hired as the next head coach. In August, the team introduced new uniform designs at a photo shoot, at the team's practice facility. Griffin and DeAndre Jordan modeled the new uniforms, which were re–designed for the first time since the 2000–01 season. The Clippers' primary and secondary logos, which are modifications of the previous ones, were introduced to the public weeks earlier, on the night of the 2010 NBA draft.
With Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, an improved DeAndre Jordan, a re–energized Baron Davis, and the debut of No. 1 pick Blake Griffin, the Clippers had high hopes for the season. However, they started slowly, losing ten of the first eleven games with Davis and Kaman out with injuries. However, the Clippers showed strength when three of their first four wins came from the top teams in the Western Conference. Griffin got off to a strong start, drawing increased media attention in Clippers games and boosting ratings of local broadcasts of Clippers games. Griffin was chosen as a Western Conference Reserve in the 2011 NBA All–Star Game, a rare honor for a rookie, the first chosen by the coaches for the game since Tim Duncan in 1997. He also won the NBA Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. As the trade deadline approached, the Clippers sent Baron Davis along with their 2011 first round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. The first pick they gave turned out to be first overall, Kyrie Irving.
2011–2017: Arrival of Chris Paul and Lob City
In December 2011, the Clippers signed Caron Butler to a $24 million deal and claimed veteran point guard Chauncey Billups three days later. On December 14, 2011, they traded Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al–Farouq Aminu and Minnesota's 2012 first–round pick acquired in 2005 for New Orleans Hornets' four–time all–star Chris Paul. Paul had previously almost been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, but NBA commissioner David Stern had vetoed the trade. Paul and Griffin were selected as starters for the Western Conference team in the 2012 NBA All–Star Game, the first time in franchise history the team had two All–Star starters in the same year.
The team gained the nickname "Lob City" due to a comment made by Griffin during the Clippers Media Day when the announcement of Chris Paul's trade reached the team. Griffin, after being told the news by close friend DeAndre Jordan, declared, "Yeah! It's going to be lob city!"
In February 2012, the Clippers signed Kenyon Martin. An eleven–year NBA veteran and former NBA All–Star (2004), Martin joined the Clippers after signing with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association the previous summer. On February 6, 2012, during a game against the Orlando Magic, Billups tore his Achilles tendon and missed the remainder of the season. In March 2012, Nick Young joined the Clippers as part of a three–team trade with the Washington Wizards and the Denver Nuggets. He became the eighth player to debut in the 2011–2012 season.
After a stretch that saw the Clippers lose 12 of 19 games after Billups's season–ending injury, with rumors of Vinny Del Negro's career as head coach of the Clippers possibly coming to an abrupt end, Los Angeles went on a tear. The Clippers won 12 of their next 14 games, including road wins over the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks and the Western–Conference–leading Oklahoma City Thunder, clinching their fifth playoff berth since their 1976 conference semi–finals loss to the Boston Celtics (the last time they made the playoffs as the Buffalo Braves) before a dominating home win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on April 16, 2012. It was their third win in four regular–season games against the Thunder. Chris Paul's push for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award was at its peak. The 2011–2012 NBA season was the first time the Clippers were in the playoffs since the 2005–06 season.
In their first playoff game in five seasons, the Clippers rallied from a 27–point deficit against the Memphis Grizzlies to win 99–98 in one of the biggest rallies in playoff history. They led the series 3–1, then lost two straight, before coming back to win Game 7 in Memphis 82–72 to advance to the second round. The Clippers relied on their bench during that game, and they came through, scoring all but two of their points in the fourth quarter. In the second round of the playoffs, the team was swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
On June 4, 2012, GM Neil Olshey reached an agreement to become General Manager of the Portland Trail Blazers. Olshey was replaced as Clippers GM by Gary Sacks. On draft night of 2012, the team re–acquired forward Lamar Odom from the Dallas Mavericks as part of a four–team deal that also sent Mo Williams and Furkan Aldemir, their 2012 draftee, to the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets respectively.
On July 11, 2012, the Clippers sent Reggie Evans to the Brooklyn Nets for the right to swap second–round draft picks with the Nets in the 2016 NBA daft. On the same day, the Clippers signed free agent Jamal Crawford, formerly of the Portland Trail Blazers. Two days later, the Clippers re–signed Billups to a one–year deal.
On July 17, 2012, the Clippers agreed to a deal with Grant Hill and then Ryan Hollins two days later. On July 27, 2012, the Clippers signed ex–Heat center Ronny Turiaf. To cap off their off–season moves, they traded away draft rights for Hawks' shooting guard Willie Green. On September 14, 2012, the Clippers signed Matt Barnes to a one–year deal. On November 29, 2012, public address (PA) announcer David Courtney died in a hospital in Los Angeles for reasons not yet revealed. He was replaced by former Clippers and current Los Angeles Dodgers PA announcer Eric Smith.
On December 15, 2012, with a 111–85 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, the Clippers recorded their record ninth consecutive win, breaking their previous franchise record (in Los Angeles) of eight wins set in the 1991–92 season. On December 21, 2012, with a 97–85 win over the Sacramento Kings, they notched their twelfth consecutive victory, breaking their previous 11–game streak as the Buffalo Braves in the 1974–75 season. On December 30, 2012, the Clippers recorded their 17th straight win against the Utah Jazz, beating them 107–96. The win also made the Clippers the third team in NBA history to record an undefeated month ending the month of December 16–0. Their streak ended when they lost to the Denver Nuggets on January 2, 2013. They ended the streak with a franchise record of 17 wins.
On January 9, 2013, with a 99–93 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, the Clippers recorded another franchise record with their 13th straight home victory  On January 12, 2013, the Clippers 13 game home win streak came to an end with a 104–101 loss to the Orlando Magic.
A 126–101 victory over the Phoenix Suns saw the Clippers reach the 50–win mark for the first time in franchise history, breaking their previous mark of 49 from 1975–76 when they were in Buffalo. On April 7, 2013, with a 109–95 victory over the Lakers, they swept the LA season series and clinched the first division title in franchise history. They would finish the season with a 56–26 record. The Clippers entered the 2013 NBA Playoffs as the 4th seed to once again face the 5th seeded Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers would go up 2–0 early in the series after a buzzer beater by Chris Paul in game 2. After being up 2–0 in the series, the Clippers would lose 4 games in a row to be eliminated the first round.
On May 21, 2013, the team declined to renew Vinny Del Negro's contract as head coach. On June 24, 2013, the NBA approved a trade of Doc Rivers, from the Boston Celtics to the Los Angeles Clippers for an unprotected 2015 NBA first round draft pick.
A day later, on June 25, 2013, Glenn "Doc" Rivers, a former Clippers player best known for his nine–year tenure as the head coach of the Boston Celtics, was announced as Del Negro's replacement. As compensation for Boston allowing Rivers to leave his contract with the Celtics and join the Clippers, Los Angeles traded two future first–round draft picks, in addition to an anti–trade clause preventing the Clippers and Celtics from engaging in further transactions amongst each other, including the exchanging of players, for the duration of the 2013–14 season.
On July 3, 2013, the Clippers traded Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler to the Phoenix Suns for Jared Dudley and J.J Redick (from the Bucks). The Clippers and Suns also sent two second–round draft picks to the Milwaukee Bucks. On July 7, 2013, the team resigned Matt Barnes, Chris Paul and Ryan Hollins. Paul's deal was for 5 years, worth around $105.3 million. The team also signed Darren Collison to fill the back–up point guard role, replacing the departed Eric Bledsoe and free agent Chauncey Billups, who signed with the Detroit Pistons. On August 28, 2013, the Clippers signed free agent power forward Antawn Jamison to a one–year deal worth the veteran minimum, appeared only twenty–two games and eventually traded to Atlanta Hawks on February 20, 2014 in exchange for the draft rights to Cenk Akyol. On December 19, 2013, the Clippers signed free agent small forward Stephen Jackson appeared only nine games with the team, and eventually waived on January 7, 2014.
On January 16, 2014, the Clippers signed free agent small forward Hedo Türkoğlu for the remainder of 2013–2014 season. On February 24, 2014, the Clippers signed free agent power forward Glen Davis. On February 28, 2014, the Clippers signed free agent small forward Danny Granger. On March 6, 2014, the Clippers defeated their crosstown rival the Los Angeles Lakers by 48 points 142–94, the most lopsided victory ever for the Clippers' franchise and the most one–sided loss in Lakers history. On April 15, 2014, the Clippers broke the franchise record of wins with 57. In the playoffs, they defeated the Golden State Warriors in seven games in the First Round before falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games in the Semifinals. Griffin averaged only 10.4 points in the second–round series.
April–May 2014: The fall of Donald Sterling
On April 25, 2014, entertainment news website TMZ released a taped conversation in which team owner Donald Sterling – who had a history of accusations of racist behavior against African Americans and Latinos dating back to the 1990s – reprimanded V. Stiviano (born Maria Vanessa Perez and of African American and Mexican heritage, who had reportedly been dating Sterling while he was estranged from wife Rochelle Stein) after posting an Instagram photo featuring her, former Los Angeles Lakers point guard Magic Johnson and another woman. Sterling stated that it bothered him that she had "broadcast that [she is] associating with black people," and that he did not want Stiviano to bring them to the team's games. The remarks in the tape caused public backlash (including condemnations from many current and former NBA players such as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul–Jabbar, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant); several sponsors also severed ties with the team (among them, Kia Motors (for whom Blake Griffin serves as its television spokesperson), State Farm Insurance and Virgin America). Threats of boycotts against the Clippers were also considered, with the team itself briefly contemplating one of the April 27 playoff game against the Golden State Warriors (the fourth game in the team's first round playoff series) – players opted to protest Sterling's remarks by wearing their shirts inside–out, obscuring team logos.
On April 29, 2014, the NBA issued Sterling a lifetime ban from the organization after a league investigation into the recording confirmed that he was the one conversing with Stiviano. The league also issued a $2.5 million fine against Sterling (the highest allowable by the NBA) and barred him from attending games or practices involving any NBA team; being present in any Clippers office or facility; and from participating in any team business, player personnel decisions or league activity. NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated in a press conference regarding the decision that he will try to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, which would require the consent of three–quarters of the league's 29 other team owners. Silver later announced that that NBA would appoint a CEO to run the team. Before the ban was handed down, Sterling said in a phone conversation with Fox News contributor Jim Gray that he had no plans to sell the team.
On May 9, 2014, the NBA named former Citigroup chairman and former Time Warner chairman and CEO Richard Parsons the interim CEO of the team.
2014–2017: Final seasons of Lob City
On May 27, 2014, Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, agreed to purchase the team for $2 billion. To buy the team, Ballmer reportedly beat out other candidates including Oprah Winfrey, Floyd Mayweather, Magic Johnson, and a group of crowdfunders. Although Ballmer lives in the Seattle area and had been part of an ownership group that had unsuccessfully attempted to move the Sacramento Kings to that city, he has indicated that he has no intention of moving the Clippers.
On August 12, 2014, Ballmer officially took control of the team following an order by a California court that confirmed the sale from Shelly Sterling to Ballmer. As part of the deal, Shelly Sterling gets the titles of "Owner Emeritus" and "Clippers' Number 1 Fan," as well as ten tickets in sections 101 or 111 for all Clippers games, two courtside tickets for all games in Los Angeles, six parking spots in Lot C for each game, 12 VIP passes that include access to the Lexus Club, Arena Club, or Chairman's Lounge and Media room or equivalent, for each Staples games, three championship rings following any Clippers title, and will run a yet to be named charitable foundation.
The Clippers' first regular season under Ballmer's ownership ended with a 56–26 record and the third seed in the Western Conference going into the 2015 NBA Playoffs. They met with the defending the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs in the First Round. The series went a full 7 games, and in Game 7, with 1 second left, Chris Paul hit the clutch game–winning shot to put the Clippers up 111–109. Matt Barnes then blocked a desperate final inbound pass by the Spurs as time expired to seal the victory and the series. Having dethroned the defending NBA champion Spurs, the Clippers advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals. In the next series, they matched up against the second–seeded Houston Rockets. The Clippers would build a 3–1 series lead that included 25 and 33–point wins in Games 3 and 4, respectively. However, Houston would rally and win the final 3 games to prevent the Clippers from making their first ever appearance in the Western Conference Finals, including a 40–15 run in the 4th quarter in Game 6 to force a Game 7 after being down by 13 points in the 3rd quarter. This defeat prompted several moves from the front office in the off–season, as it indicated the team was close to competing.
On June 15, 2015, the Clippers acquired Lance Stephenson from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes. In the 2015 NBA Draft, the Clippers acquired Branden Dawson from the New Orleans Pelicans for $600,000. After a decisive last moratorium day, DeAndre Jordan resigned with the Clippers to a 4–year, $87.7 million deal with a player option for the fourth year on July 9, 2015, after previously agreeing to a 4–year, $80 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks. Additionally, the Clippers signed small forward Wesley Johnson from the Los Angeles Lakers on the same day, and forward Paul Pierce to a 3–year, $10 million deal. Austin Rivers also re–signed, agreeing to a three–year, $34 million deal.
After again missing out on playoff success in 2016, the Clippers finished the 2016–17 season with a 51–31 record, the team's fifth straight 50–win season, despite injuries to both Griffin and Paul during the regular season. The Clippers were able to finish the season strong, winning their last 7 games to achieve the 4th seed by defeating the Sacramento Kings in the final game of the season. This game also marked the last game of Pierce's career. The Clippers faced off against the Utah Jazz in the First Round of the playoffs, but lost in seven games.
After another instance of playoff disappointment, Paul decided to leave, with rumors circulating of his desire to join the Houston Rockets. Paul, who had a player–option for the upcoming season, opted into the contract in order to be dealt in a sign–and–trade with Houston. The Clippers acquired Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, Sam Dekker, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Kyle Wiltjer, a future first round pick, and cash considerations in exchange for Paul. In preparation for a rebuild, the Clippers brought in two–time Executive Of The Year winner Jerry West to serve as their special consultant; West was the architect behind the dynasties of the 2000–02 Los Angeles Lakers and mid to late 2010s Golden State Warriors, and helped to establish the Memphis Grizzlies as a relevant playoff contender. The team retained Griffin, however, on a new five–year contract, worth $173 million, and acquired Italian wing Danilo Gallinari in a three–team trade with the Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks. Despite beginning the season strongly, the team eventually faltered by the trade deadline, due to injuries to Griffin and Gallinari, combined with no serious depth. This caused the team to trade Griffin to the Detroit Pistons, in exchange for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanović, a protected first round pick in 2018, and a second round pick in 2019. This allowed the team to finish the season strongly, with strong performances from Williams, Harris, and Jordan again allowing the team post a winning record of 42–40. The team would miss the playoffs, however, for the first time since 2011, and concluded their five–year streak of 50+ regular season wins.
In the 2018 NBA draft, the team were awarded the 12th and 13th overall picks, and selected Miles Bridges and Jerome Robinson, respectively. They would later trade Bridges, and two future second round picks, on draft night to Charlotte, for Shai Gilgeous–Alexander. Less than a week later, Rivers was traded to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Marcin Gortat. After the season, long–time Clipper center DeAndre Jordan, who had been with the team since 2008, opted out of his contract and became a free agent; later, he would sign a one–year deal with the Dallas Mavericks.
Despite the departure of Griffin and Jordan, the Clippers clinched a playoff berth on March 26, 2019, and finished the regular season with a 48–34 record. The team faced the defending two–time NBA champion Golden State Warriors in the First Round, losing in six games. Despite this, however, they were the first team since the 2016 playoffs to beat the Warriors twice on the road. They also hold the largest comeback in NBA history, having a comeback of 31 points.
2019–present: The Leonard and George era
During the 2019 NBA Finals, Kawhi Leonard helped lead the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship and earned the Finals Most Valuable Player Award. Then, he opted out of his final year on his contract with the Raptors' to become one of the top free agents during the 2019 offseason. Leonard chose to sign with the Clippers when the team agreed to trade for the Oklahoma City Thunder's Paul George. For George, the Clippers traded Shai Gilgeous–Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, four unprotected first–round picks, a protected first–round pick, and two pick swaps. Also during the offseason, they re-signed two-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection Patrick Beverley and three-time Sixth Man of the Year award winner Lou Williams.
Entering the season, the team had high expectations, with many analysts expecting the Clippers to contend for an NBA championship.
Despite a nagging shoulder injury and "load management" policy that caused stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, respectively, to sit out multiple games, the Clippers were consistently at the top of the Western Conference standings. The Clippers improved on their 48–34 record last year after making the 8th seed in the Western Conference standings, finishing with a record of 49–23 as the 2nd seed in the Western Conference, their highest-seeded placement in franchise history. Kawhi Leonard was named a starter for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game by fans, current players, and media, and was later named the game's MVP. Montrezl Harrell won the 2019-20 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, joining Jamal Crawford and teammate Lou Williams as one of three players to win the award as members of the Clippers.
The season was suspended by the league officials following the games of March 11 after it was reported that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. On July 5, the NBA announced a return of the season which would involve 22 teams playing in the NBA Bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Each of the remaining 22 teams will play eight seeding games to determine positioning for the NBA playoffs. Play resumed on July 30.
The Clippers improved on their 48–34 record last year after making the 8th seed in the Western Conference standings, finishing with a record of 49–23 as the 2nd seed in the Western Conference, their highest-seeded placement in franchise history.
In the playoffs, the Clippers faced off against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. It was the first-ever meeting between the two teams in the playoffs. The Clippers defeated the Mavericks in six games, where they both won a playoff series and advanced to the conference semifinals for the first time since 2015. On August 25, 2020, in Game 5 of that series, the Clippers set a franchise record for scoring 154 points in the NBA Playoffs. The 154-point mark was the third most of any team in NBA playoff history. In the conference semifinals, the Clippers faced the Denver Nuggets. The two teams previously met in the playoffs in 2006, with the Clippers winning in five games. However, in a shocking upset, the Clippers were defeated by the Nuggets in seven games, after leading the series 3–1. It marked the second time the Clippers relinquished a 3–1 series lead in the conference semifinals, with the first being to the Houston Rockets in 2015. The Clippers failed to hold double-digit leads in all three potential closeout games. Their elimination had extended their drought of failing to reach the Conference Finals to 50 years, the longest amongst the four major professional sports leagues. Also with this playoff defeat, the Clippers were 0–8 all-time when they have a chance to clinch a conference finals berth, the longest such streak in NBA postseason history.
Following the Clippers' elimination from the playoffs, the team was roundly mocked on social media for their failure to win the championship. The 2019–20 Clippers team has since been viewed as having one of the greatest postseason collapses in NBA history.
On September 28, 2020, owner Steve Ballmer announced that Doc Rivers stepped down as head coach in a mutual decision.
On October 15, 2020, it was announced that Tyronn Lue, who was previously the lead assistant coach of the Clippers, would be promoted to head coach. He succeeded Doc Rivers who was fired the week before.
On December 10, 2020, George signed a four-year, $190 million contract extension with the Clippers. On December 22, 2020, George scored 33 points, 26 of which being in the second half, to lead the Clippers to a 116–109 season-opening victory over the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.
In the 2020–21 season, the Clippers finished the regular season with a 47–25 record, clinching the 4th seed in the Western Conference.
In the playoffs, in a rematch of last season's playoffs, the Clippers faced the fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks. The Clippers would go on to defeat the Mavericks once again, but in seven games. The series was noted for being the first playoff series where the road team won the first six games of the series. The Clippers advanced to the semifinals, where they faced the top-seeded Utah Jazz. This was the fourth playoff meeting between the two teams, with the Jazz having won all of their previous meetings (1992, 1997, 2017). However, the Clippers defeated the Jazz in six games, advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. With their playoff series victories over the Mavericks and Jazz, the Clippers became the first team in NBA playoff history to win back-to-back playoff series after being down 0–2. However, during Game 4 of the semifinals, Kawhi Leonard got injured towards the end of the game after being fouled by Joe Ingles. Leonard was ruled out for the remainder of the series with a knee sprain. In the Western Conference Finals, the Clippers faced the second-seeded Phoenix Suns. Unfortunately for the Clippers, with Leonard being unable to recover and consequently missing the entire series, their bid for their first NBA Finals appearance was cut short, losing to the Suns in six games.
On July 13, 2021, it was revealed by the Clippers that Leonard had underwent a successful surgery to repair a partial tear of the ACL in his right knee, which turned out to be the injury that had sidelined him during the playoffs. The Clippers said there was no timetable for his return.
The Clippers saw a slight regression in the 2021–22 season. Kawhi Leonard would remain inactive for the entire season after recovering from his partial tear the ACL in his right knee. Without Leonard, the Clippers finished the season 42-40 and qualified for the Play-In Tournament, but failed to qualify for the playoffs after being defeated by both the Minnesota Timberwolves and the New Orleans Pelicans.
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, % = Percentage
|1973-74||42||40||.512||Lost Conference Semifinals||Boston 4, Buffalo 2|
|1974-75||49||33||.598||Lost Conference Semifinals||Washington 4, Buffalo 3|
|1975-76||46||36||.561||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|Buffalo 2, Philadelphia 1|
Boston 4, Buffalo 2
|San Diego Clippers|
|Los Angeles Clippers|
|1991-92||45||37||.524||Lost First Round||Utah 3, LA Clippers 2|
|1992-93||41||41||.500||Lost First Round||Houston 3, LA Clippers 2|
|1996-97||36||46||.439||Lost First Round||Utah 3, LA Clippers 0|
|2005-06||47||35||.549||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|LA Clippers 4, Denver 1|
Phoenix 4, LA Clippers 3
|2011-12||40||26||.606||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|LA Clippers 4, Memphis 3|
San Antonio 4, LA Clippers 0
|2012-13||56||26||.683||Lost First Round||Memphis 4, LA Clippers 2|
|2013-14||57||25||.695||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|LA Clippers 4, Golden State 3|
Oklahoma City 4, LA Clippers 2
|2014-15||56||26||.683||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|LA Clippers 4, San Antonio 3|
Houston 4, LA Clippers 3
|2015-16||53||29||.646||Lost First Round||Portland 4, LA Clippers 2|
|2016-17||51||31||.622||Lost First Round||Utah 4, LA Clippers 3|
|2018-19||48||34||.585||Lost First Round||Golden State 4, LA Clippers 2|
|2019-20||49||23||.681||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|LA Clippers 4, Dallas 2|
Denver 4, LA Clippers 3
|2020-21||47||25||.653||Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
|LA Clippers 4, Dallas 3|
LA Clippers 4, Utah 2
Phoenix 4, LA Clippers 2
|2021-22||42||40||.512||Lost Play-in game for No. 7 seed
Lost Play-in game for No. 8 seed
|Minnesota 1, LA Clippers 0|
New Orleans 1, LA Clippers 0
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- Cite error: Invalid
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Ballmer completes purchase
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