ESPN reported as early as Wednesday evening that the Clippers are planning to try and pull out all the stops in their upcoming meeting in New York with Kevin Durant. In addition to Doc Rivers and Steve Ballmer, ESPN says that Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan will also be in the room when the two sides sit down to talk things over sometime on Friday. This is a big deal.
Lucas Hann expounded on the idea in great detail right here, but the Clips can squeeze Durant in alongside their other three stars with some pretty drastic roster finagling. They would have to literally jettison everyone else on the roster and renounce the rights to all of their current free agents, but the "Big Four" idea the Clippers plan to pitch KD's way is within the realm of possibility. I think it's a bad idea, though, and here's why.
While it's encouraging for LAC that Durant has agreed to meet with them, they're still a longshot to actually win the race. The smart money is on him staying in Oklahoma City for at least another season, while Golden State and San Antonio lurk on the fringes as the apparent most likely alternatives. The Clippers are going to have to really blow him away with their presentation if they're to be given serious consideration. Sure, bringing the star brigade is probably the best way to do so, but it feels like a major gamble by the front office.
I don't have an issue with the team chasing Durant, but the "Big Four" approach is the wrong one. By taking the other three stars along for the trip the Clippers are essentially locking themselves into the crazy fire sale scenario. They'll have to convince K.D. to take a paycut in order to make it happen, plus, perhaps worst of all, they'll have to fill out the roster with a bunch of fringe talent without any money left to spend. The Paul-Durant-Griffin-Jordan quartet looks phenomenal, but the trade-off is that the bench is likely to be garbage. Is David Michineau a candidate to start at shooting guard in this situation? Yuck.
No. J.J. Redick. No C.J. Wilcox. No Brice Johnson. No chance of retaining any of Jeff Green, Austin Rivers or Cole Aldrich. That's a lot to pay!
A more favorable alternative would be to sign Durant and then dump Griffin. Blake is obviously fantastic, but he's also the most expendable star on a Clipper team with K.D. on it. Durant can do many of the same things (and more) that Griffin can. Dealing Blake to, say, Boston for Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and a draft pick allows to you keep J.J. Redick alongside Durant, Jordan and Paul while also giving you some legitimate complementary pieces and roster depth. There's no telling if the Celtics would actually take that offer, or how a potential one-year rental situation affects his value, but parting ways with Griffin in exchange for some viable reinforcements would leave LAC in a better place.
Once they start filling out the rest of the roster with 11 Alex Stephesons and Nazr Mohammeds and start realizing that maaaaaaybe this was a bad idea, there's no turning back, either. People will point to David West as an example of the kind of quality players you can get to join your star-studded team on the cheap, but how many other times has that actually happened? Not a lot of players out there are willing to flush $10 million down the toilet just to come ride the pine for a shot at a ring. They took Griffin to the meeting. It would be a pretty awful look for the club to then alter course and decide to trade him, after all.
The Clippers just had a promising season completely derailed by injuries, and putting all their eggs in the "Big Four" basket would truly be tempting fate in that regard. If one of them happens to go down the team would be left with nothing in terms of insurance.
Two years ago we saw the top-heavy Clippers completely run out of gas against a deeper Rockets team in the playoffs. Sure, you're replacing J.J. Redick with Kevin Durant, but even Kevin Durant will wear down eventually with such a heavy workload. Relying on four guys to carry you through an 82-game schedule and then have enough left in the tank to roll through a Western Conference playoff gauntlet is asking quite a lot. We've seen it ourselves.
The idea of being able to throw Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant on the floor at the same time is admittedly tantalizing, but I don't think it's the most practical or reasonable path for the Clippers to choose.