Clippers

Clippers Would Be Foolish to Blow it Up

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With another disappointing, injury-riddled season coming to an end, the Clippers have some tough decisions to make.

One thing they should not do, however, is blow it up.

KAWHI AND PG CAN STILL COMPETE

As frustrating as the injuries have been, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are still good enough to be the best players on a championship team.

Kawhi’s short-lived run this year showed us he’s still capable of being the best player on the floor in consecutive games. He went shot-for-shot with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker and came out on top in one of his two postseason appearances.

The consistency that Kawhi can perform with is only rivalled by the super-duper stars. When he plays, he is in the tier of players like Nikola Jokić and Stephen Curry, who can consistently have elite performances in the playoffs.

While injuries have robbed us of the last two seasons of postseason basketball for Paul George, he was nothing short of spectacular in 2021.

George led the Clippers to their first-ever Conference Finals appearance with multiple all-time performances along the way. Notably, his 37 points and 16 rebounds in Game 5 against the Jazz and his 41-point performance to stave off elimination in Game 5 against the Suns.

Both Kawhi and PG were excellent with and without each other over the past few years being undermanned and competing with teams that had an immense talent advantage.

While the question of how good the Clippers would be if both of them were healthy remains a what-if, all it takes for a shot at a title is for it to click once.

IT JUST NEEDS TO CLICK ONCE

Recent NBA champions have had seasons that were shortened by injuries shortly before or after their championship. The Lakers and Warriors have had a very up-and-down past few years, winning titles and missing the playoffs. Both teams have shown that all you need is for it to click once, and you can come out on top.

After the Lakers won in 2020, their next run was halted due to injuries to LeBron and Anthony Davis. The next year, they made an ill-advised trade for Russell Westbrook. LAL sacrificed their depth and defensive identity to chase star power, resulting in a very disappointing season. Next season, however, things started to turn around.

Timely trades for added depth and Rui Hachimura coincided with LeBron and AD playing healthy and at the top of their games. The Lakers were able to bounce back from a disappointing season and contend again as they impressively made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.

The Warriors were extremely hobbled in their NBA Finals loss against the Raptors. Then the next season, Curry went down with a broken hand, ending any hopes of a competitive season.

Similarly to the Lakers, the Warriors followed up with another very disappointing season. Where to everyone’s surprise, they lost to the Grizzlies in the play-in game, missing the postseason entirely.

Golden State’s fortune changed the next season. With Klay Thompson coming back and Andrew Wiggins, who after an up-and-down career, emerged as one of the league’s best two-way wings. The Warriors dominated in the playoffs and Curry got his first Finals MVP. After three years of injuries and disappointment, the Warriors won again.

However, not every team gets the fairy-tale endings the Lakers and Warriors got.

FIXING THROUGH TRADES

The Nets were in a similar position as all of these teams. They were once a legit contender whose seasons had become plagued by injuries. Instead, they went a different route and decided cut their losses and recoup draft assets.

While the Clippers have been in a similar situation, there are two main differences between them. Those being the off-court drama surrounding the Nets and KD being a more sizeable trade asset than the Clippers’ two stars.

Even if you don’t think PG and Kawhi will ever win, it is unlikely that the Clippers would get equal value in return for trading either of them. Especially at this moment in time. Both provide much more value to the Clips than any potential assets they could get in a trade.

Trading them now would surely be selling low.

As long as Kawhi and PG are Clippers, their goal is to win a chip. There doesn’t seem to be any players on the market the Clips could trade either of their two stars for that would make them closer to that end goal.

It would certainly be worth it to explore the option of sacrificing depth for an upgrade at a position. It has been made abundantly clear before that the Clippers might have too many guys. This pathway is best navigated once the dust settles and we near closer to the NBA draft.

Lastly, something that should be kept in mind is the Clippers have a brand-new arena coming soon. The Intuit Dome remains on track to be ready for the 2024-25 season. Hopefully the new stadium can purge the Clippers’ bad luck.

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About Josh Douglas

Josh is a fan of shot creators, big guys that play like guards, and on-court accessories. He is an avid supporter of all things Clippers and 76ers. Josh writes about the L.A. Clippers.

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