The Los Angeles Clippers have officially entered the post-Chris-Paul era, and the early returns have offered plenty of reasons for cautious optimism.
In the modern NBA, building a team around a pair of front-court players who are on the wrong side of the pendulum swing toward position-less basketball is out of step with the way the league is trending, but the Clippers remain nonplussed.
Yet even before Paul defected to Houston and forced the Clippers’ to make a decision on their philosophy moving forward, it turns out the Rockets and Clippers had already been engaged in trade talks involving a different L.A. star earlier in the year. Prior to last February’s deadline, Los Angeles was entertaining trade scenarios for both DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, and they reportedly came close to swapping out Jordan for Clint Capela and other assets.
They had chances to trade one cornerstone big man for picks and players who would fit with Paul. Teams called regularly about Griffin. The Clippers have explored DeAndre Jordan trades, though perhaps only one proposal — a deal which would have sent Jordan to Houston at last season’s trade deadline for Clint Capela, picks and players — ever gained semiserious traction, league sources say.
Capela wouldn’t have solved their issue of a clogged front-court, but he’s a younger and more affordable version of Jordan, and the pieces that would’ve accompanied him could’ve potentially put them in a position to bundle assets to swing a better deal down the road.
Regardless, both organizations seem content, at least for the moment, with the way things panned out with the deal they eventually struck over the summer. The Clippers are playing at a much faster pace, and Griffin not only has more leeway to showcase his skill-set, he’s working to transform his game to better fit the model of a contemporary NBA big, which should help alleviate some of their spacing issues.
Lob City 2.0 is still very much in its infancy, and where it’s headed now is still up in the air.