Frankly, Clippers deserve better

Typically for the Clippers, at the end of what should have been a gorgeous summer week, we have been left with two gloomy thoughts.

Elton Brand as a Golden State Warrior.

Chris Kaman as a German.

The poor Sterlings just can’t seem to get any Gluck, their best player threatening to walk away from his reputation while their most promising player takes complete leave of his senses.

“It’s always something,” said Coach Mike Dunleavy.

In this case, two somethings, both of which should be nothings.

Brand should not sign with the Golden State Warriors, not even for $20 million more than the Clippers’ offer, not if he is true to his image and his word.

Kaman should not play for the German national team, even though his grandparents were German, because stronger loyalties should lie with his health and his $52-million Clippers contract.


After the celebrated agreement with Baron Davis, neither of these things should even be an issue.

Shouldn’t the rest of the fellas be excited about the arrival of a star?

Isn’t this how the Boston Celtics just won a championship?

What happened with the Clippers last week is like Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett showing up in Boston last summer . . . at which point, Paul Pierce threatens to leave for more money, while Kendrick Perkins announces he’s going to play overseas for a country to which he has only a remote association.

This is not how titles are built.

Let’s start with Kaman, one of my favorite athletes in any sport, a great guy who works hard, walks straight and is coming off a career-best season though he played a career-low 56 games.

No, he has never been to Germany other than changing planes there. And no, he doesn’t speak any more than about two words of the language.

But last year when a writer told him he could play for Germany, he became interested. Then, after a barrage of phone calls from Dirk Nowitzki, he became hooked.

“At first it was a joke, but when I realized I had a chance to be in the Olympics while getting ready for next season, why not?” he said in a phone interview from his parents’ Michigan home. “I’ve always started the NBA season slow. Playing competitive basketball will change that.”

The Clippers worry, however, that competitive will become caustic and Kaman will get hurt.

Remember, he sat out 26 of the team’s last 43 games last season because of lower back and ankle problems, the worst injury stretch of his career.

And, remember, Kaman is in the second-year of a $52.5-million contract that should inspire his full attention.

When Kaman first raised the possibility of playing for Germany last winter, the Clippers seemed amenable.

But since he ended the season injured, they have understandably changed their stance.

Said Dunleavy: “I love Chris, but now that he’s finally ready to play every day again . . . to risk injury again . . . I’m just not sure.”

Countered Kaman: “I was there when Elton Brand hurt himself in a gym playing one on one with me. You can get hurt anywhere.”

Nobody would dare call Kaman unpatriotic, and he’s not.

“Hey, the U.S. team didn’t call me; this is my one chance to fulfill that Olympic dream every kid has,” he said.

But there was some thought that Kaman is approaching this venture in the same manner that he approached previously odd summer excursions.

There was the 100-hour motor home trip from Michigan to Alaska. There was the 31-hour van trip to teach basketball to children in Mexico.

And now, if the German team qualifies, he gets a two-week binge in Bejing.

“But I’ve already done my crazy thing for the summer; I took a boat down to Mexico for a month and a half,” Kaman explained. “This is not about that. This is all about basketball.”

I still think he could do that within the controlled environment of a team that is owed his best and soundest effort come October.

The way last season ended, can Kaman promise that?

At the end of our conversation, Kaman had one question for me.

“So, what is Elton doing?” he said.

That’s what everyone is asking.

I’m assuming he’s staying.

I’m assuming that after seven years of positioning himself as the decent, honest face of the Clippers, Brand will not slap that face.

He basically told the Clippers that if they brought in Davis, he would stay. There was even thought that he would agree to a maximum-under-salary-cap $70-million contract on the same day Davis agreed.

But then the Warriors -- who have about as much use for Elton Brand as the Bay Area has for sunscreen -- offered $90 million.

And now Brand is stalling.

I would never begrudge an athlete leaving town to make more money. But in this case, Brand would be breaking his word to make more money.

That’s not who he is. That’s not what we’ve been sold.

Elton Brand wearing a Warriors uniform would be as unsettling as Chris Kaman waving a German flag.

As strange as this may have once sounded, the Clippers deserve better.


Bill Plaschke can be reached at To read previous columns by Plaschke, go to