USA TODAY Sports
Before the start of the season, Doc Rivers hinted that if the Los Angeles Clippers didn’t make a deep playoff run, this might be the end of the run with the big three of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Now that the Clippers’ season is over – cut short in the first round by injuries to Paul and Griffin – he’s changing his mind. At least for now.
Rivers told ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe in a new interview that he doesn’t plan on trading any of his three stars:
I’m always gonna do what’s good for the team. You don’t ever do anything but that. But I feel like the best thing for the team right now is to keep them together. Can that change? Of course it can change. But I don’t think it will.
After Griffin missed more than half the year with quad and hand injuries (the latter of which came in a much-publicized fight with a Clippers equipment manager), Rivers has a legitimate case that this was a lost year for his group. That said, the problem with the Clippers isn’t their stars, it’s their lack of depth, something Rivers has done a poor job managing since taking over as the team’s coach and president. Outside of J.J. Redick, no role player for the Clippers has been consistent, and Rivers has cycled through mediocre backups and fringe players for years hoping one sticks.
Despite his controversial year, Griffin probably has the most trade value of the Clippers’ three stars. When healthy, he’s one of the 10 best players in the NBA, and he’s only 27. The Clippers shouldn’t trade him just to trade him, but if they get a killer offer of young players and picks (something Rivers has traded away indiscriminately), they should at least consider it.
If Rivers wants to keep this core together, he owes it to them and himself to surround Paul, Griffin and Jordan with real depth. Needless to say he has his work cut out for him this summer.