If Blake Griffin making the Los Angeles Clippers, for a short while during the 2010-2011 NBA season, the trendiest basketball team in LA for the first time since forever enough for you, here comes the first Big signing of a star player, in his prime, to possibly make the Clippers the best team in Los Angeles.
This might be a long term thing, or maybe only for the season. The early perception of Paul’s intentions said that a trade to either the Warriors or the Clippers means he won’t re-sign with either of these team when his contract expires in 2012. It seemed the only the Knicks, or the Lakers, can hope to sign arguably the best point guard in the NBA on a new deal.
Well, the Clippers are in the same market the Lakers are. They got a scrooge for an owner, but if there’s one city in the United States that’s dying for trends, it’s LA. With Paul and Griffin, the Clippers have two of the biggest and most marketable names in basketball.
Now this whole Lakers – Clippers battle got a lot more interesting. Also because of the obvious locality rivalry. Also, mainly even, because of Chris Paul. Remember, the Lakers were willing to give up both Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol on a three team trade to get Paul. The league turned that trade down after it was already approved by Dell Demps. Lamar Odom was so insulted that the Lakers traded him to Dallas.
Now, the Clippers had their first offer for Paul turned down by David Stern himself. What did they do? Re-work the deal, not changing that much actually, and with the help of plenty of media backlash against David Stern (what’s new) and the Dictatorship league changed a few minds in the Ivory tower. The Lakers lost Odom, and saw the Clippers get Paul.
Is it Worth It? Yes. Every time you have a shot at getting a superstar, sacrifice role players and more. Sacrifice depth and youngsters. Go for the big name, the proven All-Star. The Miami Heat nearly won a title with that last season. Now, the Clippers don’t have a Big Three, but they have an elite point guard and Blake Griffin, who could turn out as one of the most dominating power forwards of the last few decades. Eric Gordon is good, but he was worth giving up.
The Clippers now have a pretty interesting starting five, with Paul at point guard and a variety of options for second guard. Maybe pair him up with Chauncey Billups. Maybe Randy Foye. You can even play Caron Butler as a 2-guard. Yes, as you’ve noticed, the Clippers have been busy this past week. Having Mo Williams never hurt anyone as well (scored 15.2 points for the Clips last season).
If Caron Butler recovers well from the injury that made him miss most of the 2010-2011 season, it’ll be a major upgrade at Small Forward. Ryan Gomes is very good to have as your backup. He’s not someone you want playing more than 22-24 minutes a night. At Center, DeAndre Jordan made a pretty impressive leap last season, getting the Clippers convinced it’s worth shipping Chris Kaman to New Orleans. He doesn’t have a decent backup yet, but there’s still time.
It’s too early to declare wholeheartedly that there’s a new boss in LA. The Lakers still have Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Metta World Peace, on a good day. They are still the Lakers, and they’re still planning on making a big move. Dwight Howard, despite Orlando’s reluctance to deal. But you can’t help to feel that this Paul trade changed a certain balance, that probably was already shifting since Blake Griffin started wearing a Clipper uniform and actually playing.