NBA trade rumors swirled around Blake Griffin last month when it was revealed that he broke his hand while punching a team trainer. Los Angeles Clippers president Doc Rivers apparently wanted to move on from Griffin, so he was open to the possibility of a trade. It never happened, but the Clippers might have found some insurance. According to ESPN, Los Angeles has acquired Jeff Green from the Memphis Grizzlies.
First, the details of the trade. The Los Angeles Clippers, of course, get Jeff Green, a 6’10”, 230-pound forward. The Memphis Grizzlies receive Lance Stephenson, a 6’5″, 230-pound forward, and a first round draft pick in an unnamed year. The Grizzlies are going to go into a reloading mode this summer, so they made the smart move by trying to recoup a first round pick. Stephenson may or may not play in Memphis.
The Los Angeles Clippers know that Jeff Green isn’t as good as Blake Griffin. Everyone in the NBA should know that. What they do know is that there is the potential that Griffin does something that will hurt the team again. Until they see a lengthy period of time where he doesn’t make mental mistakes, then that trust will simply not be there yet. With that in mind, the Clippers knew that they needed another forward.
Much has been made about the Los Angeles Clippers playing more efficiently on the offensive end of the ball when Blake Griffin is not in the lineup. That’s when Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan do their damage with the pick and roll. Doc Rivers has discovered that the simple play works out really well when Griffin is replaced with a better shooter. Thus, they wanted to make sure that their trade target can make outside shots.
Jeff Green is far from being the best shooter in the NBA. That distinction belongs wholeheartedly to Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry. Green shoots just 30.9% from beyond the three point line. There are more than 100 players in the National Basketball Association that shoot at a better percentage. Green, however, does have nights where he hits three point shots at an elite level.
The threat of Jeff Green being able to hit three point shots might be good enough to convince defenders to not sag inside. That clears the lanes for Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan to do their damage. If that lineup ends up working well, then it might convince Doc Rivers to change up his rotation. Blake Griffin could spend more time with the second unit, where he wouldn’t need to fight with Paul and Jordan for the ball.
When you play against the Golden State Warriors, you’re going to see multiple lineups being thrown your way. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, and Andrew Bogut can attack you in so many ways. The best counteract might be to throw a lot of different lineups at them. Jeff Green is versatile, so he can enable Doc Rivers to try out a few things.
If the Los Angeles Clippers have any hope of winning an NBA Championship, then they’re going to need to figure out the Golden State Warriors puzzle. The only other hope would be that the San Antonio Spurs can defeat the Warriors before the Clippers are forced to face them in the playoffs. The problem with that scenario is that you then would need to figure out how to stop Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Tim Duncan.
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