Another Clipper off-season is progressing in a way that can only be called Clipperesque.
That can mean a variety of things, but in this instance it means frustrating.
Sometimes it feels as if the other NBA teams are out on the track while the Clippers are on a treadmill.
An NBA source said Tuesday that the Clippers were close to an agreement with free agent Cuttino Mobley. This the week after Bobby Simmons said he would leave for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Let's see: Mobley averaged 17.2 points a game for the Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings last season, Simmons 16.4 a game, giving the Clippers a net gain of 0.8 of a point.
Well, technically that's progress. It's just not very inspiring.
The Clippers: Movin' toward the playoffs, tenth by tenth.
Mobley would provide outside shooting and defense at the shooting guard position and give the Clippers a solid starting lineup along with Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman and Shaun Livingston.
All of those guys can play, but not one of them demands a double-team. None gives the Clippers an automatic matchup edge, game in and game out.
This makes two consecutive summers that the Clippers actually did things the right way, came correct with the cash ... and came away with little to show for it. Last year, they threw money at the feet of Kobe Bryant, but he stayed with the Lakers.
This year they tried for Seattle's Ray Allen (the best player on the market) and Michael Redd (the best shooter), but both took the most money they could get and re-signed with their teams at prices beyond what the collective bargaining agreement would allow the Clippers to offer.
And Simmons left for a surprising $9 million a year, a figure the Clippers never imagined they'd hear and weren't prepared to spend on a borderline starter.
It seems as if every imaginable force works against the Clippers.
There's the inertia of their losing ways -- one winning season since 1979 -- that prevents them from signing a veteran looking to play for a winner at a discount.
There's the law of supply and demand. With Allen, Redd and then Larry Hughes gone, the Clippers were forced to offer a premium for Mobley. You've all felt it at your fantasy league auctions, that time when there's only one guy left at a position, and other teams need him just as badly as you do.
They still have shopping left to do, but the big-time free agents are gone.
If the Clippers were unfortunate in free agency, though, they were unwise on draft day.
They selected Russian Yaroslav Korolev at No. 12, when Danny Granger of New Mexico and Gerald Green of Gulf Shores Academy were available.
Granger was one of the most polished players in the draft, and Green one of the most talented.
The Clippers must have some quota on high school players. After selecting Darius Miles out of East St. Louis High with the third pick in the 2000 draft, they sent the rights to Dominguez's Tyson Chandler to Chicago for Elton Brand in 2001. I loved that trade then, and still do.
But with Miles still on the roster in 2002, the Clippers passed on Amare Stoudemire (Cypress Creek High in Florida) and drafted Chris Wilcox -- who had played two years of college ball at Maryland but was only three months older than Stoudemire.
League executives always talk about the risk in drafting high school players, but historically it's been the safe bet when compared with foreign players. Ten of the 26 high school players drafted in the first round since 1996 started at least half of their team's games last season. That's better than one out of three.
The list: Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire, Eddy Curry, Al Harrington, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant and Jermaine O'Neal.
By contrast, only eight of the 39 (about one in five) foreign first-round picks in that time frame started at least half of their team's games last season.
That list: Yao Ming, Pau Gasol, Primoz Brezec, Dirk Nowitzki, Rasho Nesterovic, Peja Stojakovic, Tony Parker and Andrei Kirilenko. I included Kirilenko because he would have started every game if he weren't injured for half the season -- and because that guy can straight hoop.
I'm not ready to throw Korolev in the Kirilenko category yet. The Clippers don't even expect him to be around this year, staying in Europe for more seasoning, a la Marko Jaric.
Meanwhile, Green's assortment of dunks has people buzzing in the Las Vegas summer league. If nothing else, he could have evoked the entertaining, high-flying days of Miles and Co.
The Clippers' own high school experience has been positive. Not only were they able to turn Chandler into Brand, they were able to send Miles to Cleveland for Andre Miller.
That was still the right move at the time, even if Miller didn't work out in L.A. And they predict great things for Livingston, the point guard from Peoria (Ill.) Central High they drafted last year.
Is anyone willing to predict great things for the Clippers next season?
Didn't think so. Being Clipperesque encompasses many things, but greatness hasn't been one of them.
J.A. Adande can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read previous columns by Adande, go to latimes.com/adande.