Should the Clippers trade Blake Griffin?
I am a big Blake Griffin fan, as is the city of Los Angeles, so normally my answer would be absolutely not. However, in the wake of Griffin’s most recent injuries and his altercation with the team’s equipment manager, his future is not so certain. And while many Clippers fans, including myself, would love to see Blake stay, the Clippers’ recent success brings up the question: Should Blake be shipped off?
Well, someone could look at the Clippers’ 15-3 record without Blake Griffin as evidence that he might snag them something on the open market, and with good reason. The Clippers have looked as though they have hit a stride and are rolling. The bench is playing well, along with the star play of CP3 and Deandre leading the team to wins.
If the Clippers were to trade Griffin, here are 3 trades they should look out for:
You can probably tell where this one is going. Yes, Blake for Paul George straight up. Although this trade is unlikely to happen, primarily because the Pacers would then have a weakness at small forward, the Clippers should jump on this trade if given the opportunity.
Although they would lose the low post ability of Griffin, George would bring them a more natural stretch-4 that Griffin just lacks. Paul George is more than capable of handling the defensive side of the ball and would be terrifying for opposing defenses alongside Paul and Jordan.
This might come as a surprise to many people, but the Celtics have a stockpile of assets just waiting for a good trade to come along. Most likely the Clippers would have to include a player like C.J. Wilcox along with Griffin, but the assets that they could get would be a huge plus.
Not only would they get players like Jared Sullinger and Jae Crowder, but the Celtics would also probably have to include the Mavericks’ first-round pick along with the Nets’ first-rounder. The unprotected pick from the Nets, which could very well turn into a top 3 pick (think Ben Simmons), would be an invaluable asset that would set them up to be a powerhouse for the 2016-2017 season.
This trade is probably the best one if the Clippers want to win now. The Clippers would receive Bosh and young rookie Justice Winslow, while the Heat would receive Blake. This trade actually makes a lot of sense for both teams. The Heat would receive a solid power forward in Griffin, while also increasing their already large cap space so that they can go after big names in free agency.
The Clippers would receive a good two way power forward and perfect complement for Deandre Jordan in Bosh, and a young wing with a lot of up side and talent in Winslow. This would be the trade to go after should the Heat come knocking.
These trades all sound great, but the chance that anything close to them is offered is slim. For comparison, The Clippers tried to ship Blake and Lance Stephenson to the Nuggets for Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Will Barton, and Nikola Jokic earlier this month, according to NBA Legion (@MySportsLegion) on twitter. Not nearly as pretty as Bosh and Winslow or Paul George.
The fact of the matter is Blake belongs right where he is. Here’s why.
Quality of Opponents
The Clippers have shown us a few seemingly impressive wins over the last 18 games, with wins of 22-points, 28-points, and 31-points. But if you look closer at these wins, they are not as impressive as one would think. Those wins against the Lakers, Knicks, and 76ers respectively, show that some of their best wins have been against some of the worst teams in the league. Their losses against the Cavaliers and Raptors, the top two teams in the East, show how much not having Blake Griffin hurts them against powerhouse teams.
Also considering that the Clippers do not want to get bounced in the second round again, trading one of the most valuable pieces of their team away does not bode well for their playoff hopes.
The Stats Are Not Changing
Yes, despite what their record from Christmas on says, much of their statistics are still the same. Their offensive and defensive ratings have largely remained the same (with a few outliers, such as wins against the 76ers and Hornets), despite playing a much weaker schedule. Yes, their reserves, along with key starters, are playing better than they have all season, but that is because they’ve had to.
Players such as Luc Mbah a Moute, J.J. Redick, and Wesley Johnson have had to up their game in order to stay afloat in the daunting Western Conference. Once Blake comes back, the bench’s weaknesses will once again come to light, as some pressure will be taken off of them.
In the end, trading Blake would not only hurt the team now, but most likely set them on a course for an early exit come playoff time. The Clippers should focus on making upgrades to their backup power forward and wing positions (i.e. a possible Rudy Gay trade) using players such as Crawford or Stephenson and their trade-able contracts .
Blake’s place is in Los Angeles, let’s keep it that way.