The moment Chris Paul ditched the Clippers because they refused to give him the fifth-year max contract offer, it knocked the Paper Clips out of the Top 8 in the West. They’re also losing JJ Redick, and replacing your starting backcourt while expecting to sneak into the playoffs in the West is silly. Yes, the return from Houston for CP3 was decent – several rotation players and a defensive spark plug in Patrick Beverley, but the West is loaded.
Which is why, if Blake Griffin decides to take slightly less money in Phoenix, the Clippers will almost certainly offer the 28-year-old the fifth-year max deal – the Suns will be a playoff team.
A scary prospect if you’re the Clippers: Griffin takes a short, three-year deal with Phoenix, and then at 31 is on the market again, seeking a huge long-term deal.
Griffin is going to visit with the Suns, and while it sounds like a longshot – Boston will go after him, and Miami might, and they’re better teams – but let me quickly make the case for the Suns:
- The Clippers are descending, and will be for at least a year or two. The Suns, meanwhile, have one of the best young rosters in the NBA, and are ascending.
- Blake Griffin’s Clippers won 32 games the year before Chris Paul arrived. Then they were a 50-win team with CP3. What will the perception be if they go back to being a low 30-win team now that CP3 is gone?
- By all accounts, Griffin loves LA, and doesn’t want to leave. Arizona is a short flight away, and you can still spend your offseason in LA while being close to the Suns.
PG Eric Bledsoe/Tyler Ulis
SG Devin Booker
SF Josh Jackson/TJ Warren
PF Blake Griffin/Jared Dudley/Dragan Bender
C Tyson Chandler/Marquese Chriss/Alex Len
I know that’s a rookie in the starting lineup, and a new piece in Griffin, and a 34-year old center. And don’t forget all the very young players with no playoff experience.
But it’s certainly more attractive than what the Clippers will be trotting out.