Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers just can’t get out of the headlines as of late, and given the time of year, it was only a matter of time before his name came up in rumblings coinciding with the NBA trade deadline.
First thing’s first—there’s a lot of drama around Griffin right now, and rightfully so, but the Clippers won’t be trading him.
At least not yet.
According to ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe, sources say in a hypothetical trade situation that Griffin would be the first to go from the team’s “Big Three,” not Chris Paul or DeAndre Jordan:
Of the Clippers’ three foundational stars, Griffin would probably net the highest return in a trade. Several league sources insist that if Doc Rivers, the Clippers coach, general manager, head chef and lead custodian, were forced to pick one of the three to flip, it would likely be Griffin — in part because he knows Griffin would bring back the most. (He’d prefer to flip none, obviously).
This isn’t an immediate trade situation, but recent events around Griffin have sure helped to fire up the rumblings. As many already know, Griffin punched a friend who works for the team in the face, and as Lowe goes on to detail, it may cost the star power forward up to two months of playing time after breaking his hand, meaning he might not make a full recovery until the playoffs.
Now digest this nugget from Lowe: “Rivers told me in September that another first- or second-round playoff loss might convince him to blow up the team.”
Right now the Clippers certainly seem on that track. With or without Griffin in the lineup, the Clippers haven’t stood much of a chance against the big dogs in the Western Conference, sitting fourth behind the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. As the cliche goes, anything can happen in the playoffs, but it’s pretty clear the Clippers just cannot keep pace.
And there are a few problems if the Clippers do want to end up trading Griffin. For one, his contract expires at the end of the 2016-17 season. Two, nobody really knows how or why he’ll fit with other teams. He’s an anomaly, a smaller power forward with an inability to stretch the floor by hitting shots from deep and he’s never been known as a rim protector. Oh, and now there’s questions about his character after the off-court incident.
There’s also the issue of what the Clippers would want in return. Doc Rivers doesn’t want to rebuild, which means teams who want Griffin better come prepared to offer a deal that would have the Clippers thinking they can still compete for a top seed in the playoffs, not hit the restart button. Those trade partners are likely few and far between, if at all.
So while this wild season’s trajectory hints at another disappointing end, even more concerning about these Clippers is the fact Rivers might “blow up the team” at a later date, with Griffin’s name at the top of the list.
Redemption awaits if Griffin can get healthy and the Clippers improve, of course. But first, Griffin and the Clippers need to make sure they establish that this is the lowest point of the season before they can begin the uphill climb back to where they’d like to be.