Clippers Offseason Theories: Trade Blake Griffin for new talent

Nov 24, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) battles for position with Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari (8) and forward Darrell Arthur (00) in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 24, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) battles for position with Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari (8) and forward Darrell Arthur (00) in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

To begin this new short series, writer Tim Hiley will break down six different options for the Los Angeles Clippers’ offseason, beginning with trading Blake Griffin for a host of players to solidify the wing and bench.

The Los Angeles Clippers are at a crossroads. The team’s Big 3 of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have been together since the start of the 2012 lockout season and have gone 262-132 in the time. However, impressive as that number is, the number that is most important to the Clippers is 21-29; their post season record since Paul joined in 2012, and in that time the Clippers have failed to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

Now there have, of course, been highs through that time, like beating the San Antonio Spurs in a thrilling Game 7 in 2014, rallying back from 27 points down to stun the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012, overcoming the Donald Stirling fiasco in 2013 and going on a 17-game winning streak back in December 2012.

But with highs come the crushing lows, like Stirling almost derailing the season, losing four straight games to Memphis in the 2013 playoffs to lose the series 4-2 or blowing a seven-point lead with 49 seconds remaining for the chance to go up 3-2 and win the series vs. Oklahoma City Thunder at home before losing the series in six games.

Finally, of course, last year’s collapse of epic proportions, blowing a 19-point lead against the Houston Rockets in a close out game at home to progress to the Conference Finals. And not only did the Clippers lose, they lost by double digits.

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Then, this year, just as Clipper fans everywhere sensed they may have an opportunity to win after Stephen Curry went down with a Grade 1 MCL Sprain, unprecedented disaster had befallen the Clippers once again within 24 hours. Griffin and Paul went down injured within minutes of each other, with a re-torn quad and broken hand, respectively. Almost instantaneously, it wasn’t hard to see they’d be out for the remainder of the postseason.

The Clippers just cannot catch a break (no pun intended) and it has led people to legitimately wonder whether the Clippers are cursed.

These postseason misfortunes have led NBA fans and pundits alike to question whether this core has gone as far as it can. Stephen A. Smith of ESPN (providing the hottest takes as always) has suggested  that Paul should be traded to the Cleveland Cavalliers to team up with LeBron James. I, however, feel that that is the last thing the Clippers should consider doing. Both the team, and Paul himself, would be mad to go to Cleveland, especially when there are possible moves that can bring championship calibre talent to the Clippers, instead of sending the franchise’s heart and soul away.

As is probably the case for most of Clipper Nation, the hope is that Chris Paul retires as a member of the Clippers and (hopefully) a champion.

So, outside of trading the Clippers’ resident Point God, what else can the Clippers do?

Does the organization keep the same core for one final run? Do they keep the core intact for now but proceed with a plan of what to do in the 2017 offseason? Or do they pull the trigger now on moving other key pieces to potentially upgrade the roster to challenge the Warriors and Spurs? If the team do move a member of the Big 3, do they move Jordan or is it Griffin that needs a new home? Or is movin both and building a team most suited to CP3 the most desirable option?

Let’s get into option number one (stay tuned as the next five episodes are released).

Trading Blake Griffin for a haul of young talent

Before the trade deadline, there were plenty of rumours surrounding a supposedly imminent Blake Griffin trade. These, obviously, didn’t come to anything and who knows whether they were really trying to move Blake, or if it was just a knee-jerk reaction to his altercation with equipment manager and close friend Matias Testi which resulted in a broken hand and a four game suspension.

However, it led pundits and Clippers fans to ask whether it would be such a bad thing to trade him. On the one hand, he was the squad’s first superstar when they drafted him 1st overall back in 2009 and was the catalyst of turning a historically mediocre organisation into Lob City, a prime destination for players like Chris Paul to come and try to win a championship with. And when (or if) that day comes, nothing would be sweeter than Griffin receiving his ring with the rest of the squad.

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When taking sentiment out of the situation, though, there is an argument to be made that trading him or Jordan would make better long term sense. Unless you can form a super team (more on that in a later episode), they should only trade one of them.

The Clippers could either trade them for a superstar or complimentary pieces (more on that later, too). Now, I’m sure if Paul is reading this (I doubt it), he may just have fainted at the word “rebuild” as that is surely the last word he wants to hear when he turns 31 next month. Nevertheless, there are ways in which they can ‘rebuild’ or restructure to set themselves up for a title run next season.

For instance, the Clippers could look into trading Griffin to Boston for Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Jared Sullinger or Amir Johnson, plus the coveted Nets’ pick for this upcoming draft. It may sound like a lot to ask for (the pick and Crowder is probably a push), but remember just how talented Griffin is as someone who’s easily a top 15 player in the NBA, capable of enhancing their offense and improving their relatively weak frontcourt.

While they are no flashy, Blake Griffin-type name to replace him, Boston do have assets that would do wonders for the overall strengthening of the side, particularly with Crowder’s stellar perimeter play, and still set them up for a prosperous future.

Another move that was talked about back in February was to trade Blake to Denver for Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Will Barton and a possibly young big (Jusuf Nurkic or Nikola Jokic, for example) for Griffin and Lance Stephenson. Obviously, Lance has left the side so to make the deal work, it would have to include Jeff Green (via sign-and-trade if the Clippers don’t re-sign Green now his contract has expired).

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Again, there may need to be some picks thrown in, but it would give the Clippers more depth and with Barton and combo forward Gallinari in, it would help their floor spacing, and strengthen the depth at their historically thin small forward spot. At least, those are the positives.

However, as will be discussed more in the upcoming episodes, trading Griffin for such a return is not the answer. Stay tuned for episode 2 soon.