When Blake Griffin went down for the season last week, there was a lot of disbelief emanating from Southern California. Whether it was talk of a curse or simply that the Clippers will never catch a break, it’s safe to say that no one knew how to stomach it. So searching for answers, I reached out to Steve Perrin (a.k.a. ClipperSteve), the brains behind popular Clippers blog, Clips Nation. Check below as Perrin sheds light on the injury, the curse and the fan reactions from Clips Nation.
Dime: What does Blake’s injury mean to this Clippers team – presently and in the future?
Steve Perrin: In the present, Blake’s injury makes it unlikely that the team can compete for a playoff spot this season. Let’s be clear – it was pretty unlikely before. With so many teams playing well in the Western Conference, the Clippers not only had to play better themselves, but they also had to hope that multiple teams faltered in the second half to open up a playoff spot. They have shown that they are capable of playing well even without Griffin, but his return might have given them the extra boost they needed to surpass some teams. It’s also interesting to speculate on what the injury might do to the prospects of Marcus Camby being traded. Camby has a valuable expiring contract and remains an ultra productive big man – making him arguably the most attractive trade target in the NBA. Does this injury make them less likely to trade Camby (because they’ll need him down the stretch with no Griffin) or more likely (because they’ll be looking to next season)? I think it’s probably the latter, but injury or no injury, any offer for Camby will have to blow them away – he’s plenty valuable to L.A. as an expiring deal given their own cap space this summer.
In the future, it doesn’t change a thing. It is my understanding that he is expected to make a full recovery – there is no reason to expect that this surgery will impact his athleticism or explosiveness. So he’ll be a great player for the Clippers starting in 2010 rather than 2009. It gives Eric Gordon another season to improve – it gives DeAndre Jordan a lot more touches this season. There’s every reason to think that next season’s Clippers will be just as promising as we thought they would be before we knew about this surgery.
Dime: If you are the Clippers, do you have any regrets drafting him No. 1?
SP: Absolutely not. Could you come up with some sort of alternate universe where everything happened differently and the Clippers were contenders this season? Maybe. But realisitically, who would be helping right now? Tyreke Evans or Brandon Jennings? They both play in the backcourt, where the Clippers are set with Baron Davis and Gordon. So had they drafted Evans, they would then have had to trade Davis instead of Zach Randolph, and that’s a lot of pure speculation we’re getting into. Griffin is two months shy of his 21st birthday, and as I mentioned before, there’s no medical reason to expect this injury to change the player he is. So if he was the consensus first pick before, he’s still the consensus first pick. Think of it this way – the Spurs drafted David Robinson first in 1987 knowing full well that he wouldn’t play for them for two seasons and that was obviously the right decision. Waiting one season for Blake Griffin is unfortunate in that the team didn’t expect it to happen, but in the big picture it’s a complete non-issue.
Dime: Do you believe in the Clippers curse?
SP: No. Nor do I believe in ghosts or angels. I do believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Here’s the real question regarding a curse. Has anyone actually done a statistical analysis of any of these things that supposed to demonstrate this curse? Injuries are the obvious thing, and of course I can reel off dozens of major Clipper injuries over the last 25 years, as any Clipper fan can. Marques Johnson, Norm Nixon, Derek Smith, Danny Manning, Ron Harper, Shaun Livingston, Elton Brand, Blake Griffin. Or I could make a similar list for any other franchise over the last 25 years. Would the Clippers’ list be measuably longer, in a statistically significant way? I don’t know, but I doubt it. Some team has to have the most injuries over that time, and maybe it’s the Clippers, or maybe it’s not. Are the Blazers cursed this year? Are the Wizards cursed? Is Michael Redd cursed? Injuries happen.
Dime: What have the fan reactions on Clips Nation been like?
SP: Of course the initial reaction was that everyone was pretty distraught. There’s also a certain amount of enmity towards the organization at some level. Bear in mind that Chris Kaman missed 50 games last season with an injury that was initially described as day-to-day. So when Blake Griffin was said to be lost for six weeks, and then when after six weeks he was still out but said to be progressing on schedule, there was a feeling of deja vu for the Citizens of Clips Nation. So to lose the first overall draft pick for the entire season when the initial estimate was that he’d miss 20 games has made some people angry and suspicious of the organization.
Dime: What do Penny Marshall and Frankie Muniz have to say about this?
SP: I don’t think Frankie is a season ticket holder anymore since he started racing – actors live in LA, race car drivers travel with their circuit. I’m sure Penny is upset from the standpoint that she won’t get to see him play until next season. Penny loves basketball, and no doubt just wanted to see this guy play.
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