“My house is worth $10 million, but there’s another house on my block worth $12 million, so even though I don’t have insurance, I hope a tornado comes along and destroys mine,” said nobody, ever.
And yet that’s basically the sentiment I keep seeing here at Clips Nation. That somehow destroying a solid foundation automatically equals a “higher ceiling.” That letting Blake Griffin leave on the heels of Chris Paul’s departure—and getting nothing in return—somehow gives us a better chance of winning a title somewhere down the road. This is, to put it mildly, complete and utter horseshit.
Quick, how many complete rebuilding jobs in the last decade in the NBA have gotten a team to the level the Clippers were at yesterday, let alone above it? Well, I guess you could count the Warriors, though they were aided by a combination of factors that would be pretty near impossible to replicate. Beyond that, I count one: Boston. And even they still had one multiple-time All-Star left on the roster in Rajon Rondo after they broke up their Big Three, as well as the huge haul of future assets they stole from Brooklyn in the Pierce/KG mugging.
Sure, Minnesota and Philadelphia have amassed a ton of young talent, and both look promising now. But keep in mind that the editor-in-chief of this website wasn’t even a teenager the last time the Wolves finished above .500, while the “Process” may or may not eventually get the 76ers to the playoffs, depending on whether Joel Embiid can ever stay healthy. And neither one has a chance to get past the Warriors and Cavs while Kevin Durant and LeBron James are still ambulatory. To say either of these teams has a “higher ceiling” than the Clippers did yesterday simply isn’t true.
If the Clippers don’t find a way to hang on to Blake Griffin, what are the building blocks that will help the Clippers reach this magical higher ceiling? Cap room? What star player is going to want to join a Clippers team with a completely bare cupboard? Steve Ballmer’s deep pockets? How does that help? Draft picks? Well, yeah, if Blake leaves our pick next year will be really, really high. But look at all the crappy teams that have had years and years of high draft picks and nothing to show for it.
Sorry, folks, but if Blake leaves, we’ve got nothing. Like Sacramento/Brooklyn level nothing. No young talent with superstar potential. No massive cache of future picks. No prospects for luring the top free agents. Jerry West is a great talent evaluator, but he’s not a sorcerer. Steve Ballmer may be the richest owner in the league, but he can’t pay free agents more than league rules allow, which means his billions provide absolutely no tangible advantage.
This would not be an opportunity. This would be a worst-case scenario come to life. This would be a return to the late ’90s, when the Clippers won 41 games … combined over three seasons. I lived through three decades of “rebuilding.” There is nothing magical about it. There is nothing fun about it. There is only watching your team get blown out over and over and over again.
Please, Blake, for the love of God, please re-sign with the Clippers. I just can’t take another 40 years of wandering in the desert, and that’s exactly where we’ll be if you follow Chris Paul out the door.