The 2017 NBA offseason marked the start of the end of the Lob City era in Los Angeles. After six seasons of playing together, Chris Paul decided to part ways with Blake Griffin, leaving the Los Angeles Clippers to start a new journey with James Harden on the Houston Rockets. From the time the blockbuster deal became official, there had been plenty of rumors circulating regarding the reason why Paul demanded a trade from the Clippers, including his souring relationship with Griffin.
In a recent conversation with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on Thursday’s edition of the All The Smoke podcast, which is currently available on YouTube, Paul discussed several topics, including his relationship with Griffin. Like most people, Paul saw a superstar in Griffin from the time he started playing in the NBA. However, the veteran point guard admitted that he “actually appreciated” Griffin more when they headed into different directions in the summer of 2017 and started playing against each other.
“It’s seriously one of those things you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone,” Paul said, as quoted by Bleacher Report.
“I think about it at times. And me and Blake absolutely had our issues here and there and whatnot, but I actually appreciated Blake probably a lot more after I left. And then, especially once he started shooting threes, I was like: ‘God dang. Cash.'”
It’s hard to blame Paul for feeling that way. Paul and Griffin were actually at their peak when they were playing for the Clippers. On paper, having Paul and Griffin in their prime, together with an All-Star caliber center in DeAndre Jordan and a veteran sharpshooter in JJ Redick, could have made the Clippers one of the heavy favorite NBA teams to come out of the Western Conference and bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy every year.
Unfortunately, despite being considered as one of the most talented teams in the league, the Clippers’ core of Paul, Griffin, Jordan, and Redick hadn’t found success playing together and were stuck in mediocrity. During the Lob City era, the Clippers’ only greatest achievement was reaching the Western Conference Semifinals.
No matter how good Griffin and his teammates were, Paul may have realized that they didn’t really have a clear path to title contention which contributed to his decision to leave the Clippers in the 2017 NBA offseason. As of now, Paul, Griffin, Jordan, and Redick were no longer in Los Angeles. Though all of them are already on the downside of their NBA career, they are still on the hunt for their first NBA championship title with another team.