Blake Griffin isn’t going to play a basketball for at least another seven weeks – between his injury and suspension – but that hasn’t stopped the Clippers from offering him in trades.
According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard on TV today, the Clippers called the Nuggets and offered Blake Griffin and Lance Stephenson in exchange for the package of Kenneth Faried, Nikola Jokic, Danilo Gallinari and Will Barton. That’s three starters – Denver’s frontcourt – and their 6th man (Barton, who is 2nd on the team in scoring at 15.5 ppg).
In the stretch 4 era, that’s a lot to ask for a power forward who isn’t a prolific 3-point shooter.
Barton is cheap for the next two years (only $7 million) and would bolster the Paper Clips’ bench; Gaillinari
is an expiring contract signed a 2-year extension last summer; and Jokic is super cheap for the next three years. The only aspect that doesn’t make a ton of sense is Faried, who is productive, but basically a poor man’s Griffin at the offensive end (12.5 ppg, no range on his shot) and not nearly the passer. Also, he’s expensive: Due $38 million over the next three seasons, though the salary cap is going up. But if the Nuggets are going to part with Barton, whoever gets him almost certainly will have to take Faried.
The most interesting angle to this how versatile it’d make the Clippers. They can go with Jordan in the middle and surround him with wings/3-point shooters. Barton is shooting 38 percent on 3-pointers.
Gallinari might be one of the most underrated players in the league for his talents, though he’s not shooting that well this season (40/36); but when they’d need to go small against the Warriors, could he play 5, with Barton at the 4, and CP3, Redick and Rivers/Wesley Johnson. There isn’t a lot of defense there, but offensively, they could certainly keep up with Golden State’s Lineup of Death.
As for Blake Griffin … well, he’s going from Top 4 in the West for about the last four seasons … to a lottery team. The Nuggets are starting over, with Emmanuel Mudiay as the centerpiece. Mudiay-Griffin isn’t a bad place to begin. In addition to their own team, they’ve got 2016 1st round picks from Houston (lottery protected), Memphis (1-5 protected; 15-30 protected), New York (it’s complicated) and Portland (lottery-protected).
Before you say Denver should reject this, consider one final fact: The Nuggets are dead last in the NBA in attendance. Griffin catching alley-oops to Mudiay? Fun. And it’s not like you’re going anywhere with the current team.