After losing two of their core players in just the past few weeks, is it time to hit the panic button for the Los Angeles Clippers? While Patrick Beverley has been deemed out for the remainder of the year, Blake Griffin will also miss the next two months of play. In the midst of a stellar season thus far with averages of 23 points and 7 rebounds per game, Griffin’s injury will likely cost him a shot at making the All-Star game. For the Clippers, the absence of their perennial star will also hurt them down the stretch as the holiday season approaches.
With that being said, Los Angeles has a few options to get through this tough situation. Currently sitting in the 10th seed in the Western Conference, the Clippers cannot afford to lose too much traction in the loaded West. Here are three important questions that the Los Angeles Clippers must figure out the answers to before it becomes too late.
Ride Out The Storm?
Without Beverley and Griffin, Los Angeles may not be the best team in the Western Conference but, they can still be competitive. If there was ever a good time to get hit by the “injury bug,” it would be now. Denver’s Paul Millsap will be out long-term with a wrist injury and the Utah Jazz have also been struggling to keep their stars such as Joe Johnson as well as, Rudy Gobert healthy. The Oklahoma City, a massive preseason favorite in the Western Conference, have also struggled to find consistency. It is also important to remember that Milos Teodosic is not scheduled to return until after Christmas.
Griffin’s injury gives other members of the Los Angeles Clippers a huge chance to step up. Look for Montrezl Harrell along with former UNC standout, Bryce Johnson to step into bigger roles. Also, Lou Williams is on the heels a massive 42-point performance and Austin Rivers just about notched a triple-double against the Lakers. Danilo Gallinari has been another solid contributor when and who could forget about DeAndre Jordan. Although he may not score over 20 points per game, Jordan is a huge defensive threat is able to consistently lock it down on the defensive end night in and night out. On paper, the Los Angeles Clippers still appear to be a competitive team but, as everyone knows on-court results often differ from an on-paper outlook.
Trade DeAndre Jordan?
With things currently looking bleak for the Clippers, now may finally be the time to trade DeAndre Jordan. Rumors have been intensifying all season long surrounding the 29-year old big man but nothing seems imminent. One rumored deal would see DeAndre Jordan head to Cleveland for Tristan Thompson along with the Brooklyn Nets first rounder in 2018. At first glance, getting the Nets’ pick could do wonders for a potential Clippers rebuild but, with every game the Nets win and every game Chicago or Dallas loses, the chances of the mentioned pick being the first in this year’s draft, decrease.
Acquiring a potentially high lottery pick would be big for the Clippers but, would they really trade one of their last franchises players for Tristan Thompson and a chance at possibly drafting the NBA’s next star? For this reason, we are not yet sold on a possible DeAndre Jordan trade. Los Angeles is likely not yet ready to get desperate and trading Jordan now would be a move that may seem desperate to some but, could mark the beginning of a potential rebuild going forward. The Clippers have proved time and time again that they can battle through injuries and work their magic which, is why we are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Fire Doc Rivers?
Doc Rivers’ tenure with the Los Angeles Clippers could be coming to an end. Since 2013, Rivers has been the Clippers Head Coach with similar results year-after-year. Yes, Rivers’ Clippers have made the Playoffs on a consistent basis but, the team has rarely advanced past the first round. The first possible sign of a possible Rivers departure in Los Angeles may have been when the team removed the title of “president” from his job description this past summer. With two of his key players out with long-term injuries, just how does Doc Rivers go about keeping his team competitive?
Another factor in Doc Rivers remaining the coach of the Clippers is how well the team performs in the next two months. The Clippers front office is unlikely to make a change too deep into the season but, if the team struggles and loses its footing in the coming weeks, it might seal the deal for Rivers. Also, if the Clippers trade DeAndre Jordan and decide to go into rebuilding mode, will Doc Rivers even want to stick around? It is unlikely that at this stage in his career that Rivers would want to take on a lengthy rebuilding project and rightfully so. He has won championships and has even had the opportunity to coach his son in the NBA. However, if recent rumors are true, the relationship between Rivers and the Clippers could be coming to an end sooner than we may think.
With November coming to an end the 2017-2018 season is already in full flux. It will be interesting to see where the Clippers go from here. Will they decide to stay the course? Or, will the team continue to move on from their old identity of “Lob City.” If one thing is clear, it is that one of the most successful chapters in Clippers history is coming to an end. A new chapter is waiting to be written.