It sounds a bit silly to say about an 18-7 team, but the future of the Clippers could be decided in the next two months. The trade deadline is February 23rd, and the biggest free agent next summer is Blake Griffin. If it feels like he’s going to leave the team, would the Clippers consider trading him?
I discussed this with Chris Broussard on my Fox Sports Radio show Saturday (audio here, 17-minute mark), and he floated an interesting destination: The Washington Wizards. The disappointing Wizards (9-14) have a problem with their dynamic backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal: They don’t like each other. It’s well-documented.
Stars getting dealt in their prime for one another is rare, but the 23-year old Beal could get a fresh start in LA. The only question would be surrounded by whom? Chris Paul and JJ Redick are free agents, so it’d be DeAndre Jordan and Beal. Two nice building blocks, you keep CP3, you add the right stretch four (Paul Millsap? Danilo Gallinari?), and go grab a defensive-minded small forward (Andre Iguodala if the Warriors can’t afford him because they have to pay Curry?) …
You get younger, have more cap flexibility, and could build a bench. You’re still not on Golden State or San Antonio’s level, but you’re still in the 50-win space. (Though Beal has had health issues throughout his career).
As for Griffin (who turns 28 in March), he’s got a tough decision: Does he want to be the best player in Clippers history? Which sounds nice, but is it also code for: Had a great career, but was basically Patrick Ewing getting blocked in the East by Michael Jordan.
The most appealing part for Griffin is that you start over the in the East, where it’d feel like the #2 seed was the goal every year that LeBron was still in the league. Lebron turns 32 this month. He’s never had an injury, but if something were to happen to him, the East would be wide open. Without question, Griffin’s best path to the Finals is through the East.
Wall, who just turned 26, is having his best year as a pro shooting (45%), on 3-pointers (35%), and in scoring (23.9 ppg). He’s also averaging a career-best 2.1 steals per game, and he’s 4th in the NBA in assists per game (9.5).