Can anyone put the Clips over the top?

Updated: March 25, 2004, 2:43 PM ET
By Chad Ford | NBA Insider
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    It's been another successful year for Donald T. Sterling and the Los Angeles Clippers.

    The season is in the tank. The Clippers are out of the playoffs. New head coach Mike Dunleavy is pulling out whatever hair he has left. Those two big, fat contracts Sterling gave to Elton Brand and Corey Maggette have added nothing to the win column. The two guys he let get away, Lamar Odom and Andre Miller, are in the process of leading their teams to the playoffs.

    Success? Sure.

    In Donald's world, the bottom line is what matters, and for as long as we can remember, Sterling has been great at approximately one thing in the NBA -- figuring out how to turn a profit.

    Look at the numbers. Average attendance of 15 million-plus (down from $18.3 million two years ago). Lowest payroll in the league at $39.7 million. Luxury-tax rebates in the range of $5 to $10 million. $10 million in cash from the new expansion Bobcats. When the L.A. Times poured over the books last week, it declared that Sterling was in line to make a nice $25 million profit this season.

    Mission accomplished.

    If parades didn't cost so damn much, I'm sure you'd see a ticker tape parade down Santa Monica boulevard.

    The news even gets better if you're one of the 1,000 or so stock brokers who still follow the Clippers with a passion.

    Once Keyon Dooling, Quentin Richardson and possibly Marko Jaric come off the books this summer, Sterling is looking at roughly $14 million in cap room to spend or hoard. Add another two million to the total if he can get the Bobcats to take Melvin Ely off his hands in the expansion draft.

    What's Donald going to do with it?

    Chad Ford

    ESPN Senior Writer