Should The Clippers Trade Blake Griffin?

Feb 6, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) during their game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Clippers 123-107. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 6, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) during their game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Clippers 123-107. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin should be on the trading block this summer.

Yeah, I said it. The Clippers should trade Blake Griffin. You know that Clippers fans have had that thought recently as the Clippers as a whole and their two other stars, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan specifically, have been playing dominant basketball while Griffin sits in street clothes.

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When the news broke that Griffin was undergoing elbow surgery due to a staph infection and that he would be out up to six weeks, Clipper nation felt like they had just been punched in the gut.

Six weeks without one of their star players might ruin their season, send spiraling down either out of the playoffs or low enough that would make a deep postseason run impossible.

However, the Clippers have actually been playing better without Griffin. That is good news for the Clippers, as it gives hope for this season, but more than that, when you think deeper on the topic you realize, or at least I realized, that it gives Los Angeles more flexibility to retool this summer.

Right now, Jordan is going to get a max contract, either from the Clippers or another team. He has had a monster run down the stretch so far, and is currently the best center in the NBA.

While teams should always be leery of a player suddenly making the leap months before he is about to become an unrestricted free agent, there is no question that if Jordan puts up numbers through the life of his next contract that are similar to what he has done this season, then he deserves the max.

However, giving Jordan the max would give the Clippers three maximum salaried players, plus several highly paid role players like Spencer Hawes and J.J. Redick.

Even with the salary cap set to balloon sometime soon, that would still hamper the Clippers’ cap situation for years. The question is, would a team with Griffin, Jordan, and Paul contend for a title in the next five years?

So far this season, and last season, the answer has been a resounding no. The Clippers have faltered in the playoffs the last two years and seemed to have taken a step back this season with the quality of their play.

Having traded away draft picks and young players, there is little room for the Clippers to improve without a mega deal involving one of their star players. Paul has shown that he is untouchable, and if Jordan continues to play like he has this year, then he would be one of the 10 best players in the league.

That would leave Blake Griffin, the man who started the basketball renaissance in Clipperland, as the odd man out. The one player who is both really, really good and also expendable.

Griffin would have huge value on the trade market as nearly every team in the NBA would have at least some interest in acquiring him.

Draft picks, young players, solid veterans. In theory, a package for Griffin could have all of the above included in it. Maybe you trade Griffin to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Nene Hilario and Bradley Beal?

Or maybe Griffin and Hawes are traded to the Orlando Magic for something like Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye, Tobias Harris (sign-and-trade), and the Magic’s lottery pick.  Does that sound good to you, Los Angeles?

The possibilities are endless, but the bottom line is that Griffin is a superstar player, and teams like the Wizards and Magic would be willing to pay almost any price to acquire such a player.

Any general manager can easily justify giving up assets for a high-profile player like Griffin, and while Doc Rivers might take some heat locally, winning eventually cures everything.

Now, trading Griffin would depend on first agreeing to a deal with Jordan, You could not risk losing both guys, so the ink must be dry on a contract with the big guy before the first call is made about Griffin.

Rivers would be taking a risk with such a deal, but given his current scapegoat status, it might be a risk worth taking. Depending on the nature of a deal, I would be on board.

The Clippers are not winning a championship with their current team, and giving Jordan a max deal over the summer will just further limit their flexibility. Trading Griffin is the only way to get better.

I am sure I will some heat for even suggesting that Griffin be traded. If a trade actually happened, the franchise would take much, much more. I hope that Rivers and the rest of the front office staff in Los Angeles are willing to accept the media frenzy in order to make their team better.

Otherwise, the Clippers will never get over the hump, and Rivers will lose his job when Steve Ballmer tires of paying big money for a mediocre team. So yeah, the Clippers should trade Blake Griffin.

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