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Clip Chat: Clickbait – Fake Blake Trades

This is a dumb article where I try to get Caden to trade Blake Griffin in an alternate universe.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports


With the Clippers beating the Miami Heat last night to win 10 straight, including 9 without Blake Griffin, there have been some rumblings from fans wondering maybe Blake isn't so essential to this team, or maybe this team just plays better with Blake out. This always seems to happen when one of the Clippers stars go down, it happened last year with Blake and the year before when Chris Paul was injured. Even some basketball thinkers have brought up the notion of the Clippers blowing the current team up by trading Chris Paul before the February deadline. Maybe Doc Rivers is to blame by introducing the notion that the Clippers Core may be growing stale. Maybe it's the Clippers fault for disappointing postseason runs. Maybe it's the fault of the Warriors for being awesome.

Regardless, blowing it up is never as easy as it seems. Building a contender in the NBA is a really hard thing to do, just ask the Brooklyn Nets or Phliadelphia 76ers. To just give up on a team that is considered at least a fringe contender, the 5th of 5 teams that could win it all, is dangerous as you may never get that close again. I look at the Dallas Mavericks, a team that had been written off from ever really contending with a star fading past his prime, as my example. They just kept running it back and ending up having things fall right for them once, allowing them to win a championship. When you're a contender, and I think this team is/will be, sometimes you just need a little bit of luck to go your way to end up in bed with Larry. It's worth keeping this team together and figuring out improvements on the fringes to try and make that happen.

But inevitably there will be some #HOTTAKES talking about how the Clippers should trade Blake Griffin. I DO NOT THINK THE CLIPPERS SHOULD TRADE BLAKE, for many of the reasons stated above, but also because Blake saved this franchise. A longtime laughingstock of the NBA and pro-sports in general, drafting Blake Griffin was the catalyst to prominence and respect for this Clipper organization. Plus, Griffin is immensely popular and box office and pretty damn funny. I want Blake to retire as a Clipper and be the greatest Clipper of all time. But those, are just non-basketball related reasons. The real reason most #TRADEBLAKE articles are dumb is because it would be almost impossible for the Clippers to get anything close to a matching return for their star. If you notice, realistic trades are often the missing component to all of the blow it up articles, such as the Chris Paul article from last week. However, it was that seeming impossibility that also intrigued me as a challenge. Even though, I DON NOT THINK THE CLIPPERS SHOULD TRADE BLAKE GRIFFIN, I also wanted to see if in a completely fake, alternate universe, I could tempt Clipper fan, Caden in this case, into parting way with the Flying Lion.

And thus, for the pure hypothetical, mental exercise and challenge, in something I think would be dumb for the Clippers to do, here are my fake Blake Griffin trade proposals:


Trade 1: Chris Bosh and Justise Winslow for Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford

Larson: Here's the case: Miami does it because they are getting the best player in the trade, a top 7ish star in the league, for the prime of his career for Bosh who is 31 and on a max contract. Pat Riley has said he wants a star and may be willing to mortgage the future (Winslow) to get one and compete now. They also get some cap relief in Jamal's expiring, and with Blake making less than Bosh next year – enough cap room for a max contract slot possibly to chase Durant.

Clips do it to maybe get the long term solution at the 3 they've been looking for for years in Winslow, who looks like he could be really good already defensively. In Bosh they get an older player that is still effective, and may even compliment the Clipper pieces better than Blake, even if Blake is the better player. Bosh is a terrific midrange shooter, and can step back for 3s. Think of all those shots Blake gets in the Paul pick-and-roll, and how much more effective they could be. Bosh also provides versatility by being able to slide over and play small ball center if needed much better than Blake. Would you do it?

Caden: Bosh for Griffin is a downgrade in a player for player sense. However, in a team context case, Bosh may be an upgrade like you were saying. Bosh is the better shooter and defender, plays off the ball better, and gives the team more flexibility. Currently Blake is shooting a lot of midranges shots at a high volume, imagine Bosh doing that or in the double high pick-and-roll set with DJ and Paul. Bosh helps both of them so much, because defenders can't cheat any longer as those long twos given up now for Griffin will be Bosh three pointers, which he's shooting 40% at. While Griffin may be younger, Bosh plays a silky style non-reliant on explosiveness and athleticism.

Losing Blake hurts the Clippers in the area of playmaking and passing. Yet without Blake, they are averaging more assists per game, which could be attributed to a softer schedule. But don't tell me the ball doesn't stick in Blake's hands a little too long sometimes, and also Jamal leaving would create opportunities for others in the second unit. Imagine a Heat backcourt with Gerald Green and Crawford. Personally, I love irrational confidence on contested jumpers, and no tandem could give me more happiness than Green and Crawford – maybe if they added J.R. Smith.

I haven't even talked about the best part of the trade, Justise! The likelihood of the Clippers winning now increases with Justise – the hole at the 3 is solved. Defensively he's a stud holding players to about 6 percentage points below expectations according to SportVU. His jumpshot isn't quite viable – yet. But long term, he's more polished than Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler all were as rookies, his modern comparisons. An NBA championship for the upcoming years goes through dominant wing scorers that can masquerade as power forwards as well – LeBron, Durant, Draymond, Kawhi, Paul George, and you can eventually add Wiggins and Simmons to the list. Winslow provides the Clippers their stopper now and in the future.

I love Griffin. He's made the Clippers relevant. He truly is a star in the league. This trade piques my interest and if I were GM I'd do it. I love Bosh. I love Winslow. I love the idea of trading Crawford.


Trade 2: Paul George for Blake Griffin

Larson: This is an iffy trade where both sides probably think about whether it would help their teams, consider it, then both probably say no. I'd say PG13 and Blake are probably around the same level as players right now, and both have extreme upside for the future, depending on what type of team you'd like to build. If this trade happened, it would simply be a result of roster fit. The Pacers are so crowded at the wing they put George at PF out of necessity. Maybe they decide it's better to just simply have the best PF in the game. The Clippers have bad wing players. Maybe it's better for them to take George at the 3 and play smaller with Pierce or Luc at the 4.

Caden: If Josh Smith were playing for the Clippers consistently, this trade would be worth it. But, he's not. The Clippers are thin in the front court with Griffin gone. Jordan and Cole Aldrich are the only two traditional big men playing, and if one gets in foul trouble or injured the Clippers are in real trouble. Imagine that being a yearly trouble for the team. Luc can't be a starting 4 on a championship team; he's not a good enough defender or rebounder for that position. He's not even a starting 3 on a championship team, but somehow the idea of him at power forward long-term to me is even worse.

If Doc let Smith out of his doghouse and Smith decided to take a little less long range shots, allow yourself to imagine a lineup of Paul/Redick/George/Smith/Jordan. Whoa! Not that's a dangerous lineup. the cohesiveness is hard to imagien with that lineup, but it sure looks like a championship starting five. There isn't a gaping hole at any position and defensively, the team's worse defender are Redick and Smith, who are both above average. Spacing is less of an issue and the Clippers don't miss Blake's playmaking because George becomes the unquestioned top banana and creates enough on both sides of the ball.

How Doc would handle late game play calling with this new team would be interesting, but other than that I like this new Clippers team. I'd do that trade with the stipulation that Smith starts.


Trade 3: Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors for Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford

Larson: The Jazz are a team in the 6-8 seed purgatory, which they will probably never be better than because their current roster has a lot of good to great players, but no absolute star, top-10 player. Blake gives them that, even if they are trading away 2 of their top 3 players in order to get him. A Gobert/Blake/Exum/Burks and a toooooooooon of cap space to chase free agents is a pretty intersting core to build on.

For the Clippers, Favors gives them maybe 70% of what Blake Griffin does except with less range in his offensive game as well as passing. But Favors is a better defender than Blake, and allows the team to go small if need be. The real prize in this trade is Hayward. Hayward is just sooooooo much better than anyone the Clippers have on the wing. He would immediately slot into the 3 role and be dynamic with the Clippers. He's a borderline All Star that can stretch the floor and provide great secondary play making to assist Chris Paul.

Caden: Now talk about a thinker. Is a Hayward and Favors trade worth Blake? Gut reaction says no. Both Jazz players are good, but unspectacular. But, every argument I have against trading Blake for these two has a solid counterpoint. Offensively, the team improves. Hayward is such an improvement on the wing that it counteracts any regression from Griffin to Favors. And Hayward's efficiency probably increases since he won't have to be the first option and lead ball handler anymore. Defensively the team improves at both positions. The Clippers also get younger and more versatile. They could go small with Favors at center and Hayward at power forward if needed.

All that said, I don't think this trade makes the Clippers better overall for one superlative reason. Blake is a superstar and neither Hayward nor Favors is. To win a championship, a team needs multiple superstars. Getting the two Jazz players makes the Clipper a better regular season team, but keeping Blake makes the team a more viable championship contender. No deal.