The most controversial name ahead of the February 18 NBA trade deadline belongs to one Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Some say the Clippers would never trade Griffin. Others suggest he’s on the market despite recovering from an injury. Call it a volatile environment quite befitting of a deadline period in which contenders want to buy and rebuilders see a unique opportunity to land a superstar player.
The idea that Griffin is on the trade block might seem silly. But ESPN’s Stephen A Smith spoke with Amin Elhassan about how the Clippers have acted as of late regarding Griffin:
— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) February 14, 2016
Now normally this wouldn’t be enough to make waves. But Frank Isola of the New York Daily News seemed to provide some reinforcement of the idea a little while later:
The Clippers are making Blake Griffin available even though the injured forward is recovering from a second surgical procedure to his right (punching) hand and may not play again this season, especially if he’s traded to a team out of the playoff race.
Denver, Boston and Atlanta cannot be ruled out but if Griffin remains with the Clippers after Thursday this may be something the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony may want to consider over the summer.
That’s a world of possible incomes, but none of them actually surprising.
Look, Griffin’s name wouldn’t be in the news at all if he hadn’t been involved in an off-court altercation with a member of the team’s staff, injuring his hand and getting suspended. But it happened and the fact is the Clippers, just fourth in the Western Conference, would trade Griffin long before they considered moving Chris Paul or DeAndre Jordan.
The rest of the league understands the situation. It’s why Isola brings up a team such as the Boston Celtics, which sits on a stockpile of assets and happens to boast its biggest need under the basket. It’s why a team like the Atlanta Hawks comes up, because conventional wisdom suggests the team wants to hit the reset button, which may or may not involve names like Al Horford. Even the New York Knicks, though sheer speculation, make some bit of sense as Phil Jackson continues to rebuild.
It comes down to what a team offers. The Clippers can posture like the asking price would be through the roof, but a shakeup might be some good. Dealing a guy responsible for all the negative attention as of late, not to mention a guy going on 27 years old who relies on his extreme athleticism to get by but can’t shoot well, makes plenty of sense.
The Clippers themselves might want a reset. They haven’t lived up to expectations and it’s clear there is a pretty big gap between them and say, the Golden State Warriors or San Antonio Spurs. Griffin has simply given them a reason to peruse their options and potentially somewhat remold the roster with young, cheap assets or a veteran who can stabilize the lineup.
Conflicting reports about Griffin’s future won’t go away. Whether it’s before the deadline in a few days or all through the summer, Griffin will be one of the headline acts. The Clippers are the perfect storm of missed expectations and conflict right now, making them a prime target for organizations that want to wheel and deal.
Folks might want to hold their breath about Griffin until the deadline passes. If nothing happens, they get a slight reprieve until the summer.