The Co$t of Winning – What Next for the Clippers

With the fine and indefinite ban of Donald Sterling the Los Angeles Clippers are at a cross-roads. Where do they go from here? Do they keep the Clippers name? do they move to another part of California or even another part of the USA altogether? Whoever takes charge of the team will have some tough decisions to make.

With many rumors flying around the Clippers high profile names such as Magic Johnson, Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya, Chris Hansen, Billy Crystal and even Oprah Winfrey have been linked with being associated with bids to take over the franchise. But where to take it moving forward? The stink of this scandal has the potential to linger over this franchise long after Sterling hands over the keys, with rumors of sponsors withdrawing, the new owners may want a new start and a break from the controversy.

There are three realistic options for the future of this franchise, remain the Clippers, take a new name or move city and take a clean break from LA and this scandal.

Option 1 – New owner does nothing. Next season the Clippers open up their home schedule as the Clippers in the Staples Centre. This option I believe will require a significant name above the door in order for sponsors to ignore what has gone on with Sterling. From the NBA’s point of view someone like Magic Johnson would be perfect, a well-known and respected name in Basketball and Los Angeles sport in general through his previous association with the Lakers and his current involvement as part of the ownership of the LA Dodgers baseball team and LA Sparks Women’s Basketball team. With a major name at the helm it would make a team that would attract fans, sponsors and free agents, and an NBA championship would always help matters as well, as everyone loves a winner.

Option 2 – Stay in the LA area but re-brand the team. Another way to move on from this scandal would be to re-brand the team. New team name, colours and maybe even arena, would put some distance between the franchise and the scandal. The association between the name Clippers and the scandal is already so strong that Houston Clippers AAU club basketball team have changed their name to the Houston Cyclones to disassociate themselves from the name and scandal. A move to another area of southern California such as Orange County or Anaheim would also be a way of starting over and would also be a way of bringing in new fans and potential revenue streams as sponsors could be attracted to a team in a new market.

Option 3 – Move to a Different Part of the Country. The final and most drastic option would be to move the Clippers to a new City and start over. This option is most likely to occur if someone from a city decides to buy the Clippers and move them there. The obvious choice in this option would be Seattle who have been trying to attract a team back to the City since the Sonics left for Oklahoma and recently failed in a bid to bring the Sacramento Kings to the North West. The benefits of moving to Seattle are huge for the team, leaving behind the scandal ridden name of Clippers they could move to a market that is yearning for professional basketball and could take up the mantel of the Sonics a team with a rich NBA history and the marketability of seeing Chris Paul and Blake Griffin resurrect the famous green jersey has a lot of potential.

Whoever buys the Clippers has big decisions to make and will need to make them quickly. Once the 2014 season is over the planning for the 2015 season will begin and coaches, players, fans and potential free agents will want to know who they are playing for and where they are playing. Moving the team and re-branding makes the most sense to me whether it be resurrecting the Sonics in Seattle or moving to a new market such as Kansas City or Pittsburgh it offers the greatest opportunity for a fresh start. Ultimately the ability to re-launch the team in a new market away from the shadow of Donald Sterling’s comments may well appeal to whoever takes over the franchise.



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