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Rival executive thinks Clippers are a better free agent destination than Lakers

The Lakers will enter this summer with all kinds of cap space and LeBron James already on the roster and some anonymous executive thinks that’s actually a bad thing.

Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Through door number one, you can sign to play on the same team as arguably the greatest player in the history of his sport, for the league’s marquee franchise and in front of one of the largest fan bases in the world that is absolutely starved for a return to its typical level of success.

Through door number two, you can sign with a historic joke of a franchise devoid of star-level talent in the same city as door number one with an owner still trying to figure things out on the fly.

Go ahead, make your choice. I’ll wai-... oh what’s that you want door number one? Okay, makes sense.

According to an anonymous NBA executive in Howard Beck of Bleacher Report’s feature of Steve Ballmer, though, door number two is actually the right choice.

It’s possible no one comes. Leonard could stay in Toronto. Butler, who is trying to force his way out of Minnesota by the February trade deadline, could re-sign with whichever team acquires him. Durant could choose New York or Brooklyn.

And yet one rival executive calls the Clippers “the most attractive free-agent situation of all of them, because none of the available free agents want to be LeBron’s caddy. And they can become the greatest player in the history of a franchise in an unbelievable market with the wealthiest owner in the league. Why would that not thrill you?”

Why would it not thrill me? Because that franchise would be competing with the sport’s absolute most popular franchise in the same exact building with LeBron freaking James on the roster — and money to spend this summer either in free agency or trades for another superstar.

We heard it all year last year. Superstars want things figured out upon their arrival. James’ decision was an outlier at the time. And you know why that outlier decision possibly occurred?

Because it’s the Lakers. Because that’s how things have historically worked.

Let’s put it this way. As Beck points out in his piece, the Clippers are coming off its absolute peak to this point. And that stretch of success occurred at the very same time as the lowest points in the history of the Lakers. And the Clippers didn’t gain a single inch in the market.

We can point to new owner or whatever all we want. But superstars want to see what he’s about with his own success before they sign up to be the team’s next “biggest star.”

The Clippers have yet to retire a jersey. Staples Center is flanked on just about all sides by not only some of the greatest athletes in the history of the Lakers, themselves, but some of the few actual icons in NBA history.

Maybe Kawhi Leonard is different. Maybe they can convince multiple stars in the same summer to play together. It’s not outside the realm of possibility. But let’s slow the hell down on calling this a new era of the Clippers. They’re still the Clippers until they prove they aren’t.