The Poor Get Poorer
The Los Angeles Clippers found out yesterday that reinforcements weren’t coming this season, as top pick Blake Griffin will miss the remainder of the season with his knee injury. Griffin, who has been out since injuring his knee in the final preseason game, was supposed to be the Franchise player the Clippers lacked and make Los Angeles a playoff contender. The Clippers (17-20) are 12th in the Western Conference playoff race (they would be 8th in the Eastern Conference) and could have used Griffin for a 2nd half surge.
As bad as we always think of the Clippers, they really are a pretty decent team. Guards Baron Davis, Eric Gordon and Rasual Butler, all are averaging double figures. SF Al Thornton is a solid role player who contributes another 11 + points per night. In the paint C Chris Kamen and F/C Marcus Camby combine for over 28 points and 21 rebounds per night. On top of that, they have some other solid bench players giving them good minutes night in, night out (though they could use a back-up SF or PG desperately). What the Clippers are lacking is Blake Griffin, giving them further depth in the front court and maybe even keeping Thornton off the floor some, if the Clippers went with a big line-up. Griffin would have been the perfect compliment to Kamen/Camby on the inside. With Griffin, I think the Clippers could have been a serious playoff contender, and now they will once again be on the outside looking in.
Los Angeles Clippers will look to ‘rebuild’ for next season with the trade deadline coming up. I’d look for them to move the expiring contracts (EC’s) of Camby and Butler for draft picks/ young players before next month’s trade deadline. Back-up F Craig Smith (EC) and Thornton could also be moved as well. The Clippers should look to build around the Davis-Gordon back court and Griffin-Kamen front court. If they could get a young SF, and a couple role players off the bench, the Lakers might not be the only Los Angeles team to make the postseason in years to come. For that to happen, the Clippers will need their health and luck to change. As long as Griffin doesn’t have any lasting effects, it could be a reality.