On April 21, the Clippers went into Utah and won 111-106, behind Chris Paul‘s 34 points and 10 assists. Then, just as it has in each season since 2013, the Clippers lost a series after leading it, including the infamous 3-1 botching against the Rockets in 2015.
Now, on May 5, the Clippers are sitting at home watching teams like the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets, and Jazz play one another, even though Los Angeles has arguably the second most talented roster in the Western Conference.
It’s hard to imagine that a team compiled of All-NBA players Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Paul, as well as skilled role players Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce, J.J. Redick, Austin Rivers, and others, were never able to reach the conference finals. And just to make matters worse, Doc Rivers was supposed to be the coach to get this team to the promised land, and all he’s done is underachieve.
So, now what? The Clippers’ season is over, after going 51-31 during the regular season and 3-4 in the playoffs, where should they look now? Some say the Clippers should bring the band back together and chase one more title, others say to blow everything up, and people like me, would vouch for a little of both.
STEP 1 — Sign-And-Trade Blake Griffin:
Griffin has been a force since being the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, averaging 21.5 points and 9.4 rebounds in his career, but it’s time to let him go. Not without getting an asset in return, though. Los Angeles should agree to terms with either the New York Knicks or Oklahoma City Thunder to sign-and-trade Griffin. But the Clippers can’t settle when trying to get rid of their superstar, if the Knicks agree, Carmelo Anthony or New York’s projected No. 7 pick has to be the prize. If the Clippers decide to deal with Oklahoma City, it would make sense for Griffin because he was born in and attended college in Oklahoma. But the Thunder don’t have as many attractive pieces compared to the Knicks, so the Clippers would need Enes Kanter, a wing player (either Jerami Grant or Victor Oladipo), and the No. 21 draft selection. If neither of those deals are agreed upon, Griffin will decide on his own to either stay or walk.
STEP 2 — Re-Sign Chris Paul, Or Sign-And-Trade Him, Too:
Paul is one of the best point guards of our generation, despite never reaching the conference finals in his career. He has averaged 18.7 points and 9.9 assists over 11 seasons since being drafted out of Wake Forest. If Paul wants to return for at least one more go-around, the Clippers should jump all over him. Even though they haven’t been able to move past Round 2 with Paul at the helm, he is still the best option. If he wants out, they’ll have to try and get something in return for him as well, which would mean trading Paul to a championship contender like the Jazz, Raptors, or Spurs. However, if I’m Paul, I’m going to San Antonio during free agency, to team up with LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard to challenge the Warriors in the West.
STEP 3 — Re-Sign J.J. Redick:
Redick isn’t the biggest piece of the Clippers’ offseason, but he is a respectable shooter who has put together a successful career and is a viable scorer. He averaged 15.0 points on 42.9 percent shooting from three-point range in 2016-17, and with potential turn over approaching, some consistency would be welcomed in the Staples Center.
STEP 4 — Go Get Another Good Player in Free Agency:
With Griffin, Paul, and Redick possibly heading elsewhere, the Clippers will need to look to free agency for new players. Even if all three of those guys come back, Los Angeles needs to go get a player that can push them over the top, and get to a conference finals. There are some superstar free agents like Stephen Curry, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, and Gordon Hayward, which would obviously be top choices, but more realistic options that would still improve the team would be Tyreke Evans, Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Gay, and Paul Millsap.
Photo Credit: Business Insider.