The Los Angeles Clippers will be without Blake Griffin for the next 4-6 weeks as the All-Star power forward underwent arthroscopic knee surgery that was described as “minor.” No knee procedure is minor, so now the Clippers will move on without him for the next month plus.
This will be no new territory for the Clips as Griffin missed 45 games last season due to injuries. With Griffin in the lineup in 2015-16, Los Angeles went 22-13. Without him, they went 31-16. If anything, this could cost the Clippers a spot or two in the Western Conference playoff seeding.
Clippers fans should not worry over the next month plus. They still have Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, who have one of, if not the best pick-and-roll combos in the league. With the absence of Griffin, the pick-and-pop will now allow for more spacing on the floor.
This will give JJ Redick more open looks, which is never a bad thing. Paul Pierce will likely fill the power forward void, a position he would likely be playing in the playoffs, so this allows him to get more accustomed to playing at the four.
Doc Rivers will need to work his magic, as he often does, with his bench and have some players step up. If there is any coach in the NBA that you absolutely cannot count out, it is Mr. Rivers.
Looking at the bigger picture, what should the Clippers do with Griffin? One option is they could explore trade options, but that comes with some complications. In order to trade a player of Griffin’s caliber, a team would have to pony up quite the package of players and/or draft picks.
If you are an opposing team, would you give up the necessary package for Griffin? The obvious answer would be yes, which is where the complications come into play. First off, Griffin has a history of injuries and no team would want to give up the farm for someone they view as injury prone. Secondly, and most importantly, Griffin is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. Would a team give up the ransom required for a player who could turn out to be a rental? Doesn’t seem like a likely move for a team and certainly not one for a contending team.
If the Clippers don’t explore trade options, will they give him a max deal and keep the core of the big three intact? It would be hard to envision the current Clippers roster without Griffin, Paul and Jordan, but it is a possibility. If for whatever reason they decide to not sign him back, they could use that money to sign another max player.
If Los Angeles does decide to keep their superstar forward, can they get more depth and finally get over the proverbial hump? The Clips have an unfortunate amount of luck come postseason time, so maybe that will make the decision to part ways with Griffin a little easier to deal with.
One possible scenario that could play out is Los Angeles trading Griffin to get that much needed depth, but then resigning him in the offseason.
Short term, the Clippers will be just fine and then get Griffin back, gearing up for a playoff run. Long term, Los Angeles has some decisions to make in terms of whether or not to either deal Griffin or sign him in the offseason.
For Blake Griffin, he just has to focus on getting back on the court healthy and the rest will take care of itself.