R.I.P Lob City?

I’VE had some time to think about what the LA Clippers should do this offseason. I have listened to some pro’s analysis, I have debated amongst mates and I have come to a definitive conclusion. There is absolutely no clear path for how to attack the offseason. One thing IS clear though. After blowing a playoff series lead in five straight seasons, there is a REAL possibility that we have seen the last of this Clippers era.

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DECEMBER 14th, 2011 was the fateful day that the entire Clippers franchise changed. Trading for Chris Paul helped to establish LA as more than the just the Lakers baby brother after suffering years of torment. Having played in just seven playoff series in the franchise’s first 40 seasons in the league, the playoffs became a formality in the next six seasons following the trade. Although their regular season numbers (313-163, 65.7 winning %) have been great since the 2011-12 season their playoff record (24-33, 42.1%) highlights their failures when it matters most. The core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, JJ Reddick and DeAndre Jordan including Doc Rivers as coach have been together since the middle of 2013 and while injuries have plagued their playoff success the onus must squarely be on them.

MOVING on from the most successful era in the Clippers franchise would be a tough pill to swallow for the organisation and it’s fans, but for their long term successes it may be necessary. What are they supposed to do after so many epic collapses in the playoffs, just come back and say “Oh well, we’ll run it back with the same group and THIS time will be different”? As the years tick on the debate around Chris Paul’s ability to lead a championship calibre team come into question, as well as Blake Griffin’s durability. The juggernaut that is Golden State seems poised to dominate the Western Conference for the next few seasons and it’s hard to see this team getting past the Dubs, considering they haven’t even made the West Finals with the same nucleus. Building for the future and getting serious about injecting some impactful young into the team may be the best ‘long term’ plan of attack.

R.I.P Lob City? 1Image from sportsnet.ca

DON’T expect it to be easy to convince the Clippers fans that a mini rebuild or even full blown rebuild will be beneficial. Take their cross town rivals for example. The Lakers tanking process is yet to deliver them a definitive All-Star over the past few years while they have been anchored to the bottom of the standings, and while they have plenty of young studs there is no certainty around the group. Should the Clippers take the same path? I mean they do already have one of the best point guards in the game with Chris Paul and one of the most versatile playmakers in Blake Griffin, why would you just get rid of them? Those type of players are who teams covet and aim build their team around, so would getting rid of those guys to potentially search for a younger carbon copy seems irrational.

CLIPPERS owner Steve Balmer and the franchise face their toughest off-season decisions yet and the NBA community seems divided over which course of action they should take. For the Clips to move forward, whatever they decide to do, they need to definitively go in one direction. A lot hinges on if Doc Rivers stays with the team too, with rumours circulating that he is considering departing. With so much uncertainty surrounding the team I think that it’s time to move past this era. Personally I have a hunch that Chris Paul isn’t leaving the LA area, but Blake Griffin and JJ Reddick are as good as gone. Paul may opt to sign with a contender (San Antonio?) or another surprising franchise where he can get a ring in the near future (Miami, Milwaukee maybe?), but even if he does they still have some pieces and DeAndre Jordan contracted. Basically if they play their cards right they can quickly transition from the Lob City era and emerge as a contender once again in a few short seasons. If CP3 does end up staying so be it, he could potentially draw other All-Stars to the team in order to ring chase (I’m looking at you Melo), but bringing Griffin and Reddick back isn’t the answer.

R.I.P Lob City? 2Image from bitcoinisle.com

THEY may have battled some injuries in the playoffs, which to a degree has impacted their success. However, their track record doesn’t bode well even when they are healthy. It’s time to turn the page on this chapter in this franchise’s novel and try to get something of value back for Griffin in order to fast track a potential rebuild. We will all miss seeing Paul lob it up top for aerial specialists Blake and DeAndre, but at least we will have always have the YouTube highlights. Rest In Peace Lob City.

Banner from clipsnation.com

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