December 3, 2017, 12:36 pm
The Los Angeles Clippers have held a .600 or better winning percentage in each of the last six seasons, while making the playoffs ever year. Those teams were led by Chris Paul with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan dominating the interior and J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford making major contributions on the perimeter.
The Clippers were consistently one of the best teams in the NBA offensively and one of the most exciting to watch. Early in the tenure they were coined “Lob City” for all the alley-oops CP3 would create for Blake and DeAndre.
Despite regularly running through the season, come playoff time they were always one step behind. They never lost to the same team twice in the post season and they never made it to the Western Conference Finals. They never made that leap into true title contender status.
Unfortunately good teams are tough to keep intact in the NBA because you can only pay so many players. With four of their five marquee players due for pay raises this offseason, changes were coming.
Out went Paul, Redick and Crawford. Head Coach and GM Doc Rivers was stripped of his GM title. Griffin signed a contract to stick with the team at least four more seasons, potentially five, while Jordan remained under contract.
They were able to get some value out of Paul in a trade with the Rockets, adding pieces that signaled a re-tool approach as opposed to a rebuild. Despite losing the player that turned them from cellar dwellers to playoff teams in CP3, they looked to have more depth than they ever had in the previous six seasons.
It looks like that idea is fading away. No team in the NBA could survive what the Clippers are going through no matter how deep.
First Milos Teodosic, the Serbian point guard brought on from overseas, goes down in October and hasn’t returned. Danilo Gallinari, their marquee free agent signing, went down about a week later. Patrick Beverley, whom they received in the CP3 trade, went down 10 days ago with a knee injury and is out for the season.
The biggest blow came just this week as Blake Griffin hurt his knee and is expected to miss two months. The Clippers, who have already lost 11 of their last 14 games, may not be able to survive such an agglomeration of injuries.
Four out of their five starters on opening night are out for an extended period. That leaves DeAndre Jordan trying to hold it all together. No disrespect to Jordan, but he’s not the type of catalyst to carry a team on his back. It’s just not his skillset.
All good things must come to an end and it looks like that time has come for the Clippers.
Jordan trade rumors have been swirling for a couple years now. It use to be revolved around how they could manage to keep Paul and Griffin by trading Jordan. Now it’s about getting some value out of him before he walks as a free agent. Seemingly on the cusp of a rebuild, Jordan could be on the way out too.
His name has been connected to the Wolves this year. At Jordan’s salary he becomes a tough player to trade, but one that works monetarily is Jordan and Teodosic for Teague, Patton, Aldrich and Oklahoma City’s draft pick. Is this enough to temp the Clippers? With Tyus Jones’ recent play, they may insist to receive him somehow.
It’s a complicated rumor that likely can’t fit without getting a third team involved, but something to keep an eye on as trade season starts to heat up heading into December.
– Jimmy Butler vs. Lou Williams
– Karl-Anthony Towns vs. DeAndre Jordan
The other key piece in the Paul trade, Lou Williams becomes the Clippers most talented scorer by default. His 18.7 points per game would represent a career-high this season, as would his 44.3 field goal percentage, 38.5 3-point percentage and 89.7 free throw percentage.
He doesn’t offer anything on the defensive end. His role is to come into the game and put up points from all over the floor. The Clippers thirst for offense wherever they can get it from, and Williams will happily provide when he’s out there.
Butler’s main assignment will be slowing Williams down, but on the other end of the court he should be able to find his own offense with ease, whether guarded by Williams or Austin Rivers. The Clippers’ defense was sub-par before getting ravaged by injures and it’s worse off now.
In the paint Jordan will be protecting the rim, but won’t extend out to the perimeter often. Towns will have to force him out of the paint or make him pay for staying down as Jordan represents the Clippers only hope of resembling any sort of defense.
Defensively Towns will have to stay grounded. There will be plenty of perimeter shot attempts from the Clippers, which means plenty of long rebounding opportunities. It will be important to keep Jordan off the offensive glass and give the Wolves a chance to run in transition a little bit.
Jeff Teague – PG
Jimmy Butler – SG
Andrew Wiggins – SF
Taj Gibson – PF
Karl-Anthony Towns – C
Austin Rivers – PG
C.J. Williams – SG
Wes Johnson – SF
Jamil Wilson – PF
DeAndre Jordan – C
Nemanja Bjelica (foot) – QUESTIONABLE
Justin Patton (foot) – ASSIGNED TO G-LEAGUE
Patrick Beverley (knee) – OUT
Danilo Gallinari (hip) – OUT
Blake Griffin (knee) –OUT
Milos Teodosic (foot) – OUT
Where to Watch:
7:00 ET/6:00 CT on Fox Sports North