The Los Angeles Clippers are officially broken up thanks to Chris Paul’s ultimate decision to join the Houston Rockets. Sure, you can label him a shameless, ring-hungry veteran, still starved of an NBA playoff championship, but you can’t blame him. After years of “playoff contending” ability with a team that lacked any playoff satisfaction, you have to ask, were there any other options?
The Clippers were once dubbed “Lob City” not just because it was a bit catchy, it was because it had a relatively strong backcourt with Paul running point, relying on the supposed under-the-rim powerhouses, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. Furthermore, Paul’s lobs to the two big men were eye candy on NBA highlight reels, whether you were a fan or not. Sure, all of that was “cool and all,” but when you don’t get the job done when it matters, you begin to question things.
Getting the job done means at least making it to the finals of your conference of the playoffs, and that’s something that Clippers fans could never brag about. Ever since the Paul trade to the Clippers in 2012, it was almost a given this Lob City could make their way up, improving each year, but the Clippers fell short of expectation. That’s the reason why this massive shakeup is happening.
The former 2016-2017 household-name roster was the last straw. Five years in the making, Lob City was a team that bragged of the irreplaceable experience of Paul, towering ability of Jordan, improving range of Griffin, coupled with even more experience from veteran JJ Redick, youthful bench talent from Austin Rivers, and the ball handling of Jamal Crawford. All of this was just not enough, and if you’re building a team of name-brand players and are unable to get passed the second round of the NBA playoffs, it’s time for a switch up.
So, the switch up began with Paul signing with the Houston Rockets. This was one of many deals the James Harden-led team has made, closely following the trend of neatly packing high-skilled and high-valued star players into one roster. The Rockets have also signed on veteran PJ Tucker, known for his defensive game. Even more, the Texan team has an option to sign-on Carmelo Anthony, who, much like Paul, is ring-hungry, and has elicited intent to join either the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Rockets. Furthermore, the Rockets are keeping big man Nenê Hilario and have wrapped their hands around Chinese player Zhao Qi standing at 7 feet and 2 inches.
The Clippers also lost Redick, a consistent member of the team, who posted average stats, but in turn, helped the team in a more collective manner. Redick instead saw more down the line by being shipped off to the meager Philadelphia 76ers. Sick burn!
In actuality, no pun was intended, because Redick tweeted out:
Trust the process— JJ Redick (@JJRedick) July 1, 2017
This new slogan has been coined by the 76ers, as they’re looking to build a resurgence out of the small-name team. Redick is now looking to help out a team of strong rookies jump through the ranks. The 76ers have recently acquired veteran Amir Johnson along with Redick. The guided direction that both new additions to the team will put forth along with superstar capabilities of Joel Embiid and the potential of recent first-round draft picks Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz is what the 76ers are putting at the forefront of their franchise rolling out for next season.
At face value, the Clippers have only lost two players, Paul and Redick. However, these two players manufactured the team’s backcourt. With them gone there’s only going to be a further breakout.
Griffin, on the other hand, chose to stay with the Clips, signing a five-year max deal. After a long-talked about the hypothetical situation of Griffin one day being able to take charge of his own team, he finally has the opportunity to do so. The next question, however, is about Jordan. With Paul leaving, Jordan doesn’t have a compelling reason to stay in former Lob City, especially because of the irony that this shake-up is occurring following that “family says tight” charade The Clippers’ starters pulled last year, stopping Jordan from signing with the Dallas Mavericks, mid-agreement. Poor Jordan is finally getting a taste of tough NBA trade reality.
In the end, the impact these two trades have caused is enormous. It’s putting an end to a team that everyone knew for the theatrics of Jordan, the dynamic game of Griffin, and Paul’s playmaking. Sure enough, when people’s careers begin to wind down, the goal of winning a NBA championship becomes even more apparent, but it also becomes even harder to get with age, so decisions and trades are made.
Be sure to follow further NBA trades, as the Clippers are not done rebuilding their team. With free agency finally opening up, players and fans will be shocked over the decisions that are made, and contention for the championship next year will be ever more competitive.