The Clippers played the game the way NBA conventions say you should. They bottomed out and got the first overall pick. The year they did that, there just so happened to be a real star available. They drafted Blake Griffin and except for a few injuries, Blake has absolutely been the player they wanted. Then they
colluded with the NBA to force Chris Paul to sign with them signed Chris Paul, paired those two with Deandre Jordan, added a few pieces (Jamal Crawford, JJ Reddick) and got a top coach. Championships were supposed to follow. This is how it’s supposed to work.
Only it hasn’t. The Clippers just got eliminated by the Portland Trailblazers, just like SOMEONE on this blog warned them about. Granted that had a lot to do with injuries to Blake and CP3, but the fact remains: Blake has been in the league 6 years, CP3 11 (5 with the Clips) and this team has never made a Western Conference Finals. Think about that. Even Clippers haters (I’m looking at you Ryan) have to admit that the Clippers have 2 of the top 15 players in the league, a top 12 head coach (I’m out on Doc, but he’s still better than most of the league) and have never made a WCF. That seems impossible. So what do you do? What do you do when the plan that every NBA team tries to copy fails?
The first thing the Clippers should absolutely do is thank Doc for his service, but hire a real GM. Doc can still be the President of Basketball Ops, but that job should be primarily rubber stamping whatever the GM decides to do. The Clippers have had glaring and obvious needs for the last 3 years and they have yet to add a quality wing player, or pick up a respectable backup point guard. If your GM can’t fix your glaring weaknesses, or even worse, won’t even address them, then yeah, that’s a problem. And yes, I know Austin Rivers had a great game the other night, and good for him, but if you think the Clippers are hanging on to Austin Rivers for any reason other than his last name, you’re crazy. Jeff Green and Paul Pierce’s dead corpse aren’t answers for the problems on the wing. A real GM would do wonders, and it’s those little things that can mean the difference between winning a 7 game series and losing it.
The next thing is the big decision. Do you break up the big 3? I say yes. And even though this sounds insane, I think they need to trade Blake. Blake has the most trade value, and that would solve the “Deandre and Blake can’t play together” problem once and for all. I haven’t run this through the trade machine yet, but if the Clips could work out a deal trading Blake to Miami, getting Justice Winslow and a few other pieces, that’d go a long way to creating a roster that makes more sense and fix their wing problem. [Sidebar: Do the Clippers realize how bad they screwed themselves by going back after Deandre? That was their solution to this mess once and for all!] Or they could try to move Deandre and get some young wing players and a real backup PG. I won’t get rid of everyone, but I’d definitely move Deandre or Blake.
For what it’s worth, I’d keep CP3 unless someone gave me a stupid offer. Players of his caliber don’t just come around often. I’d try to move Blake or Deandre and get some young wing players in return. The thing they can’t do is just stand pat. They gave this group a good 5 seasons and as they all get older, it looks more and more like it’s just not going to happen for these 3. The league around them has gotten better too. San Antonio looks like they will comfortably transition out of the Tim Duncan era, GSW will continue to roll as long as they stay healthy. OKC might have one last run in them (although their coaching situation looks bad), and young teams like Minnesota and New Orleans won’t be missing the playoffs for long. If you move Blake or Deandre and build up the cast around CP3, then you be able to make a run. They need a big tweak, not an overhaul.
‘Blowing the team up” isn’t the answer. It didn’t work the first time, so why would it work again?