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Are the Clippers the best NBA team in Los Angeles?

December 15, 2011 | 10:39 am

Chris Paul, the newest Clipper

With the acquisition of Chris Paul, will the Clippers finally be the main show at Staples Center? Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss whether the point guard could catapult the Clippers to surpass their Los Angeles neighbors. Join the conversation by voting in the poll and leaving a comment explaining why you voted the way you did.

Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel

If we are, indeed, in the era of the Big 3, then the answer is no.

Argue all you want about the direction Kobe Bryant's career is headed, but at the moment, in big-game moments, he still has a superior résumé, at least at this stage, to Chris Paul.

And while Blake Griffin is the NBA's flavor of the month, Pau Gasol is the more complete player, and again, a player who has proven up to big-game moments. We haven't seen Griffin in those moments yet. Last time we checked, Griffin dunks and Gasol jumpers each count for two points.

Then you get to the debate of who is the third-best Clipper. Caron Butler? He just arrived and is coming off knee surgery. Mo Williams? We've moved beyond that notion.

So we're talking DeAndre Jordan vs. Andrew Bynum. And right now, it's still advantage Bynum.

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune

Sorry. As long as somebody named Kobe Bean Bryant is employed by the more prestigious franchise in Staples Center, the Lakers will rule Los Angeles.

The Clippers have obviously upgraded with the additions of Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups. Blake Griffin is must-see TV. And the Lakers are showing their age. However, the jury remains out on Vinny Del Negro as an NBA coach. And Bryant is one of the few people remaining in the league who can will his team to victories when needed. Not all the time. Certainly not always in a compressed season. But it's not like the Lakers are completely bereft of talent either. They still have Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Josh McRoberts is an underrated free-agent pickup.

And don't forget the shocking second-round sweep by the Mavericks has stuck in Bryant's craw this entire, extended off-season. I'd guess the Lakers plan to rally.

[Updated at 12:30 p.m.:

Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times

They may not be the best team, but it's close, and you could make a pretty compelling argument that they have the best starting five. I'll take Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Caron Butler at their respective positions over an aging Derek Fisher, a nearly traded Pau Gasol and an all-over-the-place Metta World Peace.

The Lakers still have Kobe Bryant, whose window of greatness remains open, and Andrew Bynum, one of the best young centers in the league, but their depth took a big hit with the losses of Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown. Now they'll have the likes of Josh McRoberts and Jason Kapono coming off the bench, or at least after the first five games when McRoberts takes Bynum's starting spot while he serves a suspension for leveling Jose Barea in the playoffs.

For the first time in years, it's time to ponder the possibility of a playoff battle between the fellow Staples Center tenants. I'll take the Lakers in seven.]


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Photo: Chris Paul. Credit: Lucy Nicholson / Reuters.