Can Metta World Peace make it back?Are the Clippers still here?Actually, the Clippers play tonight in Vancouver, en route to China with no local newspapers on the trip, meaning it will be almost as if they’ve vanished from the face of the Earth.This is fitting for one of the NBA’s most exciting teams and, recently, one of its most successful, which nevertheless may as well be on the dark side of the moon.No, it’s true. The Clippers’ average of 56 wins the last three seasons is second in the NBA only to San Antonio’s 58, and ahead of No. 3 Golden State’s 55. Questions ringing throughout Southern California at the start of the NBA exhibition season:Can D’Angelo Russell make it big, or medium sized?Can Julius Randle make it back?Can Kobe Bryant make it back? Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The Clippers are always about to break out of their lowly niche, but for the bad things that kept happening in the playoffs, capped last spring when they were one win from the Western Conference Finals before blowing that 19-point lead in Houston.DeAndre Jordan then agreed to terms with Dallas, seeming to herald the end of the Clippers’ heyday, but a funny thing happened on the way back to the depths whence they came.Jordan did a 180 and re-signed, showing that whatever the Clippers’ issues, there’s still more holding them together than breaking them apart.Coach Doc River insisted last season that their issues were those of a Dream Team, noting teams with real problems don’t do what they have.Whatever you call it, insiders said there was the old one with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, even if they had worked it through, before last season when Jordan decided he wasn’t getting the ball enough either.That Mavs, of course, promised to let DJ be all he could be … and would have until opponents started fouling him, as they would have.As Jordan noted, free agency didn’t turn out to be as much fun as he thought. Re-upping for three seasons means accepting the role that made him a $20 million-a-year player.Rivers, shaken from his reverie, told Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “It might have been my front-office wake-up call. I was not a pleasant guy to me or my staff after I thought we lost him — and even after we got him back. We had a lot of ‘come-to-Jesus’ meetings.”If Rivers made bad calls as fledgling basketball boss, his cachet is the reason that players like Paul Pierce and Josh Smith are still coming for less than other teams would pay.Of course, if they had Dream Team issues before …Rivers’ cachet derives from his time in Boston, where his 2008 champions had fabulous chemistry from the day that Kevin Garnett arrived.Rivers notes that it wasn’t as effortless in 2010 when all seemed to fall down around them before they astonished everyone by making the NBA Finals and led the Lakers by 13 in the third quarter of Game 7 before Metta, of all people, led the Lakers’ comeback.Whatever chemistry is, the Clippers are no longer taking theirs for granted.“Chemistry can grow,” said Rivers. “I go to 2010 when we (Celtics) had no chemistry. People were giving up on us. And all of a sudden the second half of the year, things started clicking, guys started getting together. Next thing you know, we’re in the Finals.“It can happen, I think, a lot of ways. Golden State last year started with it. When we played them in preseason, I could write, ‘Oh, oh.’“You could just see it. They got it, they made up their mind to play a certain way, they bought into it.“And that’s part of chemistry, too, Chemistry isn’t just getting along, it’s buying into whatever you’re doing, even if you don’t all love it.”So their heyday continues. Here’s a new notion in their long, colorfully woebegone tradition:Happily for the Clippers, they’re still the Clippers.