Monday night, the Los Angeles Clippers suffered two major injuries during Game 4 of the first round of the playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin both left the game with injuries.
Paul suffered a fractured right hand when he went for a steal against Gerald Henderson. He left the game with 6:07 left in the third quarter. It was reported during the game that he had a broken hand. It ended up being a fracture, but still, the results for he and the Clippers was not good news. Paul underwent surgery to repair the fracture on Tuesday and is out indefinitely. Those close to the Clippers team said they think a realistic timetable would be 4-6 weeks. The Clippers would have to advance to at least the Western Conference Finals in order for Paul to have a chance to play.
Griffin aggravated a left quadriceps injury – the same quad he partially tore a tendon in on Christmas Day – and will miss the remainder of the playoffs. He had missed 47 regular season games due to his quad injury and a broken hand he suffered after an altercation with a Clippers team staff member.
The injuries to the two stars couldn’t have come at a worse time. This is a team that some believed could at least give the Golden State Warriors a challenge in the second round, especially after Steph Curry suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee.
Now, the notion of possibly beating Golden State goes out the window. Los Angeles will now have to figure out a way to replace Paul and Griffin from within. A task that is easier said than done. When DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford have all played together in the past three seasons, they haven’t been without both Paul and Griffin.
Paul was averaging 23.8 points per game, 7.3 assists per game and 4 rebounds per game during the first four games of the playoffs. Griffin was averaging 15 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
Looking down the road, the Clippers have bigger questions to answer. Will Game 4 prove to be the last that Paul and Griffin would suit up as teammates? It is certainly a possibility. Los Angeles will have many options moving forward. For the past couple of seasons, many have chattered about whether or not the Clips should blow the team up. The duo has led the Clippers out of the first round three of the four years since becoming teammates.
Last season, the Clippers knocked off the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in seven games in the first round, before falling to the Houston Rockets in seven games in the Western Conference semifinals.
The talk of blowing the team up slowly began, but Doc Rivers wouldn’t blow up the core of the team. The Clips were a middle-of-the-pack team this season and really came a long way from the start of the season.
Will either Chris Paul or Blake Griffin be traded in the offseason? That is a big question and a realistic possibility. The Cleveland Cavaliers could be a possible trade suitor, if Los Angeles decides to go in that direction. A trade of Chris Paul for Kyrie Irving would be one to consider for both parties. Another trade would involve Blake Griffin for Kevin Love. Both are very realistic, but that does not mean either of trade will happen.
Next season both players will become free agents in an elite class. If the Clippers want to get value for either of these players, they should look to trade one or the other. The main concern with that is whether or not they would get equal or better compensation. It would be difficult for them to get equal or better, due to the caliber of player both of these guys are.
The Clippers have to regroup and come up with a plan to make up for the absence of Paul and Griffin if they hope to beat Portland. If Los Angeles can’t overcome this, something that is totally understandable, losing two star players, things will be changed during the offseason.