LA Clippers: Doc Rivers won’t change the starters and there can only be one explanation

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers watches from the bench during the first half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 10, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers watches from the bench during the first half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 10, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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After a rough stretch in the month of December, aDoc Rivers still won’t change his starting lineup and there can only be one explanation.

The LA Clippers are 2-7 in the month of December after coming out hot to start the season. The team hasn’t looked right, especially the starting lineup. Fans and the media have both been critical of this lineup with the focus being on Marcin Gortat and Avery Bradley with the latter getting the bulk of the criticism.

Despite all of this, Doc Rivers says lineup changes aren’t something he will consider.

We already made the case for not playing Avery Bradley. According to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus stats, he is literally the worst offensive player in the league right now. “He’s a lock down defender though!” Is he though? He ranks 335th in Defensive Real Plus-Minus, with only Milos Teodosic and Lou Williams ranking lower than him from the team. So why are we still sticking with Avery?

There only can be one explanation. The LA Clippers are still trying to use him as trade bait.

That has to be it, right? Using both stats and the eye test, Bradley doesn’t seem to be doing really much of anything for this team. Yes, other teams can see the issues just as we do, but benching him would completely kill any trade value he has. Just look at the 76ers and Markelle Fultz for an example of this. At the least, Fultz has youth on his side while Bradley just turned 28 years-old.

The Clippers have to be hoping that Bradley will turn it around, at least somewhat, in order to build his value back up. By benching him, there is zero percent chance that his trade value increases from what I’m sure is a very low value now.

Does this hurt the team currently? Sure. With games against the Mavericks, Nuggets, Warriors, Kings and Lakers in the next two weeks, the team could pick up some much-needed wins against tough Western Conference competitors. But this idea of keeping Bradley on the court probably isn’t being done for this season.

If the Clippers are serious about bringing in the likes of Kawhi Leonard or Kevin Durant, they need to have assets and cap space. Bradley is signed through next season for a little over $12 million, with $2 million guaranteed. Getting clear of all that money helps the team not only sign one, if not both, of those players but also would help them have a little space to fill out the bench.

If he doesn’t have any trade value and cannot be moved, $2 million could really hurt the team’s space, assuming he gets cut.

dark. Next. The Clippers have an offense problem

So maybe it’s not time to blame Doc. This order could be coming from upstairs as the team gets closer to January 15, when Bradley can officially be traded. It hurts now, but in the long run could really benefit the team if they are able to move him.