LA Clippers: Is it even possible to build around Blake Griffin?

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Blake Griffin
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Blake Griffin /

After locking up Blake Griffin for another five seasons, we explore whether it was the right decision for the LA Clippers

By definition, Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. While it might be a step too far to call the LA Clippers’ upper management insane, we’ve all seen the Hollywood lights burn too bright and make its brightest stars flame out.

When Chris Paul informed the Clippers that he desired to leave, it forced the Clippers’ hand. They undoubtedly had been watching the Melo and Phil Jackson feud culminate into the Zen Master’s firing, and didn’t want to disturb the balance.

Fortunately for them, they were able to get something in return for the Point God, but even with their new look roster questions still abounded – should the team rebuild? Should the team look at moving DeAndre Jordan? Is Redick coming back? (The answer to that question is no). Should they keep Blake?

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The LA Clippers answered that question before free agency officially began, inking the former All-Star forward to a five-year, $173 million dollar contract extension; which shattered Mike Conley’s NBA record-setting contract by about $28 million, only to be bested by two-time MVP Steph Curry a few hours later by about $28 million; signing a five-year, $201 million dollar contract extension.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I get it. Even though in an article I wrote recently I advocated for a rebuild, before the Clippers re-signed Blake they were looking at a starting lineup like this:


And a bench like this:


Now, is that the best 10-man rotation in the NBA? Definitely not. But can it earn a postseason berth? Maybe, but probably not. Replace Blake with Harrell and Harrell with Wiltjer and the rotation becomes a lot better, and probably almost solidifies a postseason berth…. just not as high as the Clippers faithful are used to.

Speaking of those injuries, here is a compiled list of all the injuries Blake Griffin has suffered (for reference, this is from The Ringer’s “The Unanswered Questions From the Chris Paul–to-Houston Trade.”

"Sprained left MCL, January 2008Torn right knee cartilage, March 2008Broken left kneecap, October 2009Sprained left knee, May 2012Torn left meniscus, July 2012Strained left hamstring, February 2013Sprained right high ankle, April 2013Bruised left knee bone, October 2013Stress fracture to the back, July 2014Staph infection of the right elbow, February 2015Partially torn left quadriceps, December 2015Broken right hand, January 2016Surgery on the right knee — “minor” to remove “loose bodies,” December 2016Bruised right big toe, April 2017"

If you divided the terms of Blake’s new contract by each injury he’s suffered, that comes out to roughly $12,360,000 an injury. While that’s obviously not at all how NBA contracts are doled out, it puts things in perspective – that the Clippers have as clear a sense of direction as their D-League affiliate – the Agua Caliente Clippers. That’s not a misprint folks – the Hot Water Clippers.

Where do the Clippers go from here?

The Clippers could have let Blake walk, and saved a lot of cap room in the process; which they might come to regret:

(Please click the link so you can track with me)

Now if you don’t fully understand what the means, I’ll put it to you in very simple terms: the Clippers went from having a lot of money to try to re-sign 2/3 of their roster to probably re-signing Austin Rivers.

Jordan has a player option, so he can opt out next summer and seek a more lucrative payday from a team that’s closer to contending. While the LA Clippers are the place he’s been his entire NBA career, the reason he stayed in the first place was because the Clippers made him; er, because Chris Paul gets along with everyone and he voluntarily chose to stay:

Now that Chris Paul is gone and not coming back, what’s tying Jordan to the Clippers? Doc? Blake? Whether or not he’s afraid of being a feature on offense, Mark Cuban won’t be calling…… but Magic might.

Must Read: NBA Free Agency Roundup: Paul George Traded, Blake Re-Signs And More

The Clippers will probably pass on bringing back guys like DeAndre Liggins and Kyle Wiltjer, but will probably want to bring back young guns like Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell. Sure, Blake is locked in for the future, but the LA Clippers have made it clear they’re committed to building around him – but will they have any blocks to build with?