With the deadline a few weeks away, NBA trade rumors regarding some of the biggest stars in the league are running rampant. While Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin has been linked to numerous teams lately, the 5x NBA All-Star is now being rumored as a potential candidate to be traded to the Charlotte Hornets.
As first speculated by RealGM, the trade could make sense for both teams. While the Clippers have been one of the best teams in the Western Conference over the past few years, they have never been able to get over the hump. With the Golden State Warriors on a historic run and the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder also playing elite basketball, the Clippers really do not have a realistic chance to make a run at a championship this year. While the fourth seed in a tough conference is impressive, there are still three teams that are clearly superior.
While it might sound absurd to trade arguably your biggest star in the prime of his career, it might be the best decision for the franchise. Here is the trade proposal that RealGM came up with.
- Blake Griffin
- Jamal Crawford
- CJ Wilcox
Los Angeles Receives:
- Al Jefferson
- Marvin Williams
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
- 2016 first round pick (Top 3 protected)
- 2017 & 2018 second round picks
For the Hornets, this deal is a no-brainer. With a record of 24-25, they are not even mediocre in a below average conference. With LeBron James aging, there really are not a ton of superstar players in the Eastern Conference. The conference also does not have any truly elite teams like the Western Conference does. In going to the Hornets, Griffin could be one of a few superstars in a weak conference. While Griffin and the Hornets would not be contenders immediately, they would have a solid foundation and much better outlook than they do at the current moment.
The Clippers with Griffin are still a great team, but how long is it going to last? Point guard Chris Paul turns 31-years-old in a few months, and the team is not exactly going younger. With a young core, the Warriors are going to dominate the Western Conference for at least the next few seasons. If the Clippers do not think they will be able to contend with the Warriors, it might make sense to try a new approach and build for the future. In addition to a young Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and a few established veterans, they would also receive a first round draft pick. While RealGM lists the pick as a top 3 protected first round draft pick, the Clippers would probably want two first round draft picks in exchange for Griffin.
It is a very small sample size, but the Clippers have been playing better since Griffin was sidelined with an injury. In 30 games this season with Griffin in the lineup, the Clippers have a 17-13 record. In 16 games without Griffin in the lineup, the Clippers have a 13-3 record with a much greater efficiency rating. Basketball is a team sport and sometimes chemistry and matchups are more important than one individual’s skill set.
As the Los Angeles Daily News notes, Hornets head coach Steve Clifford believes that Griffin is a top five player in the league.
“Well, I think they’ve done an unbelievable job (without Griffin). And yet, somebody asked me… I did a thing yesterday, ‘Would they be better without (Griffin)?’ Absolutely not. There is a big difference between playoff basketball and the regular season, and he possesses all of the traits that you have to have to win in the playoffs. He’s a great player, great passer, obviously can score the ball. I mean, he was having — up to the point where he got hurt — in my opinion he had to be in the conversation for best four, five players in the league.”
While that is high praise for Griffin, most other coaches in the league have similar sentiments. One issue that the Clippers may want to distance themselves from is Griffin’s off the court issues. While he is not a bad guy, he has had a few lapses of judgement in the past, the most recent being a broken hand from punching a team employee.
NBA trade rumors will continue to swirl regarding Blake Griffin’s possible destination, but the Charlotte Hornets remain a viable option if the Clippers decide to move their star forward.
[Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images]