The Los Angeles Clippers are either legit cursed or the divinely ordained physical manifestation of Zeno’s Paradox, which is just another way of saying “cursed,” I suppose.
Zeno’s Paradox, put simply, is that if you travel half the distance to a point, and then another half the distance, and then another, and then another, always halving the distance remaining between yourself and the point, then you will never actually reach your destination because there will always be half of a distance remaining between you and it. Obviously, this is not a real world paradox since, get real, I can walk from over there to over here, no problemo.
However, it describes the LA Clippers perfectly: no matter how far they go, they never arrive. They’ve brought Hall of Famers in, they’ve drafted players who look like they could be MVPs or Hall-worthy, they’ve brought in big time coaches, they’ve changed owners, they’ve even spent a spell as the best basketball team in LA recently. But, none of that matters. They never made a Western Conference Finals. They had the Point God, Ubuntu, Microsoft money, and one of the best front courts in the entire NBA (when healthy). Again, none of that mattered. The Clippers suffered collapses, injuries, a lack of cheap, young, good players, lack of a bench most of the time, and injuries, and injuries, and injuries, and then injuries again.
The news of the day is that Blake Griffin, the centerpiece and franchise player, will be out with a knee injury for at least two months. There goes your best player for about a third of the season, and he’s almost definitely taking your playoff hopes with him. The Clippers are only one game out of the playoffs, but that’s likely to change now that Blake’s out (and, presumably the Thunder will get it together at some point this season). The Clippers were already having a disappointing season; this seems like a great time to say Eff This, and just blow the whole thing up.
I don’t generally advocate tanking because I think good teams can lose just fine even if they’re trying to win (please see: the Los Angeles Clippers and/or the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Milwaukee Bucks, etc.). I also don’t trust the front offices, the coaching staff, the scouts, or the college basketball programs and international pipeline. Honestly, I think the draft is almost a complete crapshoot unless there’s a general consensus on the first few players. I mean, where’s Markelle Fultz, y’know?
But! For the Clippers, this might be an excuse to get out of an untenable situation. The avalanche of injuries LA has already suffered would be enough to destroy any team’s playoff chances, even a great one. You simply can’t lose that many players and expect to compete, and there’s no shame in acknowledging that fact. Plus, if you decide to blow it up, you can hopefully get some assets for players who are either backups to your injured starters, or for good players who might not fit the team, anymore. A talent sale would also let you separate yourself from Doc Rivers and go in another direction with a fresh start, a new coach, some high draft picks, and just a better foundation for future success.
Trading DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers makes all the sense in the world. Hell, trade everyone but Blake, really. What have you got to lose? The Clippers should go with the slide, and hopefully turn things around faster than if they kept everyone for a vainglorious attempt at the 8th seed this year. Consider this: you have Blake locked up; both DJ and Austin have player options next year; and the only other players you have under contract are Danilo Cincinnatus Gallinari, Milos Teodosic, Wesley Johnson, Sam Dekker, Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell, all told around $70 million committed for next year without DJ and Austin. (Patrick Beverley has a team option for $5 million.) If you trade DJ and Austin, you either get back picks or players (maybe DJ for Nerlens Noel and stuff?) and you fill in a roster based on Blake, Il Gallo, and Teodosic (if he’s actually good). That’s not optimal, but is that team with DeAndre Jordan and with Austin Rivers a good playoff team, anyway? I just don’t think that the ideal best of this team could actually compete with the Warriors.
Honestly, ditto with the Grizzlies. If you fire your coach, you’re kind of putting up the white flag of surrender, no?
And, we might learn what an actual rim protecting Big Man can get you in a trade in the New NBA. DJ and Marc Gasol are both great, great players. They will help playoff teams. Big Spain can shoot threes and DJ is a behemoth when he’s truly unleashed. Plus, DJ is used to playing defense and third fiddle on offense, so it would not be difficult to incorporate him into a different team. But, do teams even want these guys in our New NBA? Enough to trade cheap, young assets to get them?
I think the most obvious landing spot for both is Cleveland. The Cavs send their draft pick or the Brooklyn pick, and maybe Tristan Thompson, too, and they get back an elite big, and someone who can anchor your second team and get you points if you decide to go small in the playoffs. However, the Cavs are doing just fine right now. They turned it on after everyone complained enough, and they’ve won 8 in a row to climb to 13-7, good for third place in the East. Maybe they’ll keep their powder dry and see if they can make a cheaper trade closer to the deadline?
If you have Gasol or Jordan in fantasy, I would hang on to them and see what comes of these uncertain times. DJ should feast on stats while he remains on the Clippers (ditto, Austin); who the hell knows what’s up in Memphis, though. The best teams in the league right now all have good to great bigs, so a trade might not happen immediately. If Memphis does trade Big Spain, he’ll most likely score more as the Grizzlies are the 3rd lowest team in points per game.
Ultimately, there’s only one way to break the Clippers’ curse: move them to Seattle. I feel like if the NBA did that, they'd win the title immediately and never have a player get injured ever again. So there you go, I’ve fixed the Clippers.