Los Angeles Clippers: Do Not Trade Blake Griffin For LeBron James

Nov 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) drives to the basket as Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) defends during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) drives to the basket as Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) defends during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Blake Griffin is Mr. Untouchable for the Los Angeles Clippers. He’s solely responsible for the Clippers’ rise from infamy to stardom.

Due to the unfortunate nature of recent events, they’ve been donned as “America’s team,” but any Clippers fan will shoot that title down immediately. In fact the Clippers have only been on America’s radar in recent years. If there’s one reason that America has taken notice, (a reason that doesn’t have to do with Donald Sterling) it’s because of Griffin.

Everyone takes notice of Griffin — on and off the court. At 25 years old, his 6’10″ athletically terminator-like frame has a striking effect. Paired with a motor that’s only has one speed, Griffin’s a special player to say the least. He’s the one guy that has talent and nostalgia on his side.

The Clippers should never trade Griffin for anyone, not even LeBron James.

That’s not to say Griffin is the best or even second-best player in the NBA, but when talking moving him via trade his potential and current level of skill must be considered.

He’s come a long way from hammering down dunks, and struggling to contribute in other areas. Griffin has slowly developed into a superstar this past season. There’s a good chance Griffin’s name is mentioned much more in the MVP race next season.

The idea of trading Griffin for LeBron James stemmed from a report that James and his wife “really like Los Angeles.” Bron-bron and the Missus might have been talking about Venice Beach, Hollywood Boulevard and Beverly Hills. Their sentiment towards the land of palm trees and sunshine might’ve have nothing to do with the hardwood.

But since we like to speculate at this time of the year, let’s just say the James’ were talking about Los Angeles basketball.

Considering LeBron is refusing to move his talents to a rebuilding team, that only leaves the Clippers, thus the scenarios of his arrival begin to cook up. The most likely scenario is a straight up swap between James and Griffin. Although James captures more headlines, this trade would solely be about Griffin.

It would take relinquishing their hope for the present and succumbing to the future for the Miami Heat and for the Clippers they’d have to fully give up on Griffin’s potential.

Financially the trade could work. If the Clippers were to acquire James via sign and trade (since James has opted out of his final year with the Heat), under the NBA’s 25-percent trade rule, the Clippers are unable receive more than 125 percent plus $100,000 of the salary given out for the trade to be accepted. Also, the Clippers met the requirements of staying under the tax threshold plus $4 million for adjusted post-trade team salary.

In layman’s terms … the salaries match, so it’s possible.

It’s financially possible, but for the Clippers is it basketball feasible? The idea of LeBron James in a Clippers uniform is intriguing because it would be a LeBron we’ve never seen. James has never played with a ball-dominant point guard. He certainly hasn’t been paired with a player like Chris Paul.

It would be the next stage of James’ evolution as a player. Four NBA Finals appearances in a row is an impressive achievement, but the hunger to not only compete on the highest level but get better individually drives James.

It’s scary to think that LeBron can get better, but he’s the most versatile player in the league who’s played the same role with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Heat.

James is a stat filler and a nightmare matchup when utilized in the correct way. His career averages of 27.5 points, seven rebounds and seven assists don’t tell the full story. One of the many problems Miami faced during its five-game series versus the San Antonio Spurs was the inability to create mismatches for James.

With a power forward-sized body and the quickness of a small guard, the key to winning with LeBron is matching him against equally sized but slower footed defenders. As he is one of the masters in offensive and defensive schemes Clippers head coach Doc Rivers would extract the best basketball that LeBron James has played in his career.

The Clippers basketball IQ would be at an all-time high. Although Griffin’s hoops intelligence has increased in recent years, at times he can be at a loss on what to do in crucial late game situations.

Paul matched with LeBron is similar to an offense run by two point guards. Paul averages only three assists more than James. Having two All-Star caliber playmakers on the floor working in tandem has loads of potential for L.A.

Trading Griffin for James doesn’t mean the Clippers have given up on their high-flying power forward who most would agree is nowhere near his ceiling. For that reason alone, the thought of trading Griffin seems preposterous.

Who knows what Blake Griffin’s game will look like next season or three ahead?

Swapping one for the other places the Clippers deeper in win now territory. James has close to a decade left of basketball, and most experts agree that he’ll spend his veteran years back home with the Cavaliers. Although there’s obvious immediate benefit, a trade of Griffin for James sacrifices the 15 or so years Griffin will contribute, versus a four to five-year rental of James.

There are some players that relocate to Los Angeles and never leave. They become community heroes, and the glitz and glamour that comes with a Hollywood lifestyle becomes intertwined with their entire presence.

Not James–he’s the circus, ring of fire, man shot out of the cannon and ring leader all in one. Wherever he travels people follow, and whether or not he trades in humid days in Miami for the Hollywood nights in L.A., he’ll never be an Angeleno. Akron sits at his heart, and a piece of him believes he owes a penance to his home.

It may deliver the Clippers their first championship a bit faster. They might even play better as a unit … and although LeBron James is the only player worth trading Blake Griffin for, getting that first banner isn’t worth sacrificing a decade of winning.