February 8th marks the official NBA trade deadline, but January 29 marked the official beginning of “Trade Season”. The Detroit Pistons sparked the first regular season blockbuster trade that included 5x All-Star, Blake Griffin. Some may think that this could be the start of something new in Detroit. Bringing in an All-Star in the middle of the season will help with their ticket sales and an Eastern Conference playoff run.
Despite his 5-yr/$173M deal that will be making that trip to Detroit with him, they took a chance and landed an All-Star that won’t be leaving anytime soon. Coach Stan Van Gundy is on the hot seat and this is possibly his last shot at making a run. This organization is heavily motivated because they have not acquired a player of his caliber in over a decade.
Heres the Catch…
Ever since college, injuries have cursed Blake Griffin’s career. In 2009 Blake broke his left kneecap and missed his rookie season. During the 2016 Playoffs, he aggravated his left quad and they were eliminated by the Trailblazers. In 2017 Griffin was out for the rest of the playoffs with an injury to the plantar plate of his right big toe against the Utah Jazz. Blake has also not been an All-Star since 2015, this could change since he is now in the East…If he stays healthy.
Goodbye “Lob City”
The Clippers underachieved throughout the “Lob City” era, and everyone in that organization is to blame. From the hidden-racist and former owner Donald Sterling, to control freaks Doc Rivers and Chris Paul. Let’s not forget about the Deandre Jordan free agency hostage situation. Not to mention the blown Playoff leads, terribly timed injuries and the ridiculous contracts that were given out. It was about time to jump ship (No pun intended).
This past summer, Chris Paul made the business decision to leave his Super-Max dollars on the table and join the Rockets. As of now, it looks like it was the right move. He and Harden are playing out of their mind now with the possibility it could carry over to the NBA Finals.
It was All Good a Few Months Ago
As for the Clippers, after giving Blake a fake ceremonial jersey retirement ( With a gospel choir in the background!) while the PA announcer says he was a “Clipper for LIfe” is now a Piston. In July they gave him 173 million guaranteed but as the season progressed Jerry West realized that he is not the guy to lead them in the competitive Western Conference. LA is currently the 9th seed in the West and they did what more mediocre teams should do. They dumped his expensive contract and added some decent pieces like Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris. However, this trade isn’t about the pieces that they acquired. It’s about getting rid of an injury prone, inconsistent big man who is taking up cap space.
Jerry West is making money moves and it looks like he is not done.
Pack your Bags, Deandre and Lou
Despite his All-Star caliber year, Lou Williams with Deandre Jordan has been in trade rumors for all of 2018. DJ is still in his prime as a premier rim protector and rebounder. Sweet Lou has become the NBA’s best spark plug averaging 23.5 points off the bench. Some may wonder why they would try to get off now their two best players. It’s because they have the biggest trade value in the market. Jerry West is not happy with the core of the roster and he wants to make a drastic change in the organization. A lot like how he did with the Lakers and Warriors. They could ride it out, make the 8th seed, and plan to rebuild in the summer. But by how sudden this Blake trade went down, it looks like the time to strike is now.
Many teams could use Lou and DJ’s services this year, especially in the Eastern Conference. Washington could use some resurgence after John Wall’s left knee injury, more so in the paint. Milwaukee would love to have a Big 3 to run with the future of the NBA that is Giannis Antentokounmpo. Then there is Cleveland that is always in trade rumors and is in need dire need for rim-protection and efficient guard play.
The Clippers’ Future
Jerry West’s requests are that there are young players and draft picks involved, and all for the right price. This team is moving on from the “Lob City” era and they are keeping their eye on the 2018 Lebron James sweepstakes. Despite reports saying Lebron will not be interested in joining the Clippers this summer.
Jerry is a mastermind and Lebron calling him “The Godfather” could turn in to a meeting with each other. They are still in an LA market and whatever team Lebron is on, alongside the genius of Jerry West will compete for a title.
Lebron to LA may sound a little farfetched but, The Clippers are cleaning house for that big free agent signing maybe not this summer but, be aware of the summer of 2019. Players like Klay Thompson, Devin Booker, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kyrie Irving will be available that summer. If you don’t think the Clippers will be in every discussion then you got another thing coming.
Regardless of what people may think of this bizarre trade, the Clippers are thinking ahead. They would’ve had a career 21.8 ppg player on their team for 5 more years but, they took a chance and got rid of him. Just like the Pistons took a chance and traded for him. Teams are sick and tired of being mediocre while watching Cleveland and Golden State compete in June every year. However, this trade will not affect the Finals what so ever.
In a couple of years, we will look back and declare who won the trade and who lost it but, something we will know is loyalty is just a myth in the NBA.
Andrew Alsbrooks covers the NBA on Mayoplease.com
Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @Drewthaone