Time flies when you’re having fun. This adage may not relate to the Los Angeles Clippers after years of postseason woes.
After six long seasons, the Clippers’ championship hopes have yet come to fruition. As Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and J.J. Redick are notable free agents this summer, the Clippers will make the biggest decision in team history regarding the future of the team. While there’s no denying the talent on the roster during this current era, the underachieving of it has countered more times than none. Although injuries have altered their playoff chances multiple times, there have been self-inflicted events that have occurred as well. Regardless, Clippers gonna clip, making the decision to keep one of the league’s best core groups together or rebuild the roster as tough as it could possibly be.
Chris Paul – All-NBA First Team (2012–2014), All-NBA Second Team (2015, 2016), NBA All-Defensive First Team (2012–2016)
Blake Griffin – All-NBA Second Team (2012–2014), All-NBA Third Team (2015)
Deandre Jordan – All-NBA First Team (2016), All-NBA Third Team (2015), NBA All-Defensive First Team (2015, 2016)
2013 – Round 1 exit against Memphis (had 2-0 series lead)
2014 – Win Round 1 amid Donald Sterling scandal. Round 2 exit after blowing game 5 to OKC.
2015 – Beat defending champ Spurs in round 1. Round 2 exit after falling apart against Houston.
2016 – Blake and CP3 get injured. Round 1 exit.
2017 – Blake gets injured. Round 1 exit.
It’s going to be hard to find a team that’s had three All-NBA players, two of which being All-Defensive players, with the same playoff results as the Clippers.
If you’re Doc Rivers and the front office, do you blow it up? Do you sell yourself on having bad luck for the past few seasons and maybe you’re just one more piece away? As a player, do you still believe you can get over the hump here? All questions that will be answered sooner rather than later. With only some minor adjustments, they may feel they still can compete for a title. The same way they thought so this year with a healthy Blake. The same way they thought so last year with a healthy Blake and CP3. The same way they thought so when they beat the Spurs and Warriors in 2014 and 2015. On the other hand, they may decide to accept the inevitable.
When it comes down to it, whether Paul, Griffin, and/or Redick re-sign or go somewhere else, the window for competing for a title seems to have closed. Their best chance was in 2015 but they somehow let go of an 18-point lead to the Rockets with James Harden on the sideline and couldn’t close the series after. Have they gotten any closer to winning since then or even two seasons prior?
While Chris Paul is still the Point God, he is now 32 and can see his personal championship window beginning to shrink. While Blake Griffin is 28 years old, he’s had his fair share of injuries in recent years along his all-star resume. While still having some bounce, he won’t be seen dunking over a Kia anytime soon. Redick, the same age as Paul, will be in position to receive the biggest payday of his career this summer while possibly still playing for a playoff team. Most of the Clippers’ bench players are unrestricted free agents also and the team doesn’t have a first-round draft pick. Is just keeping their top three free agents without having cap space for more moves enough to get over the top in the West?
Although very unlikely, anything could happen. Who knows? It may be their turn to receive something they haven’t had yet; luck. Every championship team has some sort of good fortune that helps them hold the trophy in June. Sometimes, it’s being in the right place at the right time, other times it’s simply a matchup situation. But typically, staying healthy is vital of becoming a champion and perhaps all three could happen to the Clippers if they choose to wait it out.
For an organization that has been not only the stepbrother to the Lakers, but to the rest of the sports teams in the city of Los Angeles for the better part of 30 years, they have finally become a main attraction and one of the NBA’s premier teams. Losing CP3 and Blake Griffin would all but put them back into irrelevancy without a strong plan to rebuild going forward.