The Clippers and Pistons dropped a bombshell on the NBA Monday, reaching a deal that sends Blake Griffin, Brice Johnson and Willie Reed to Detroit for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a first-round (likely 2018) and a second-round pick.
Don’t think the Clippers are done.
This is not a surprise, just a reminder.
Officially, the Clippers are selling that they are competitive on the court and can push for a playoff spot — they are a game out of the eight seed as of today. They still have Lou Williams playing at an All-Star level, DeAndre Jordan, and Harris was having the kind of season in Detroit that got him All-Star consideration (Harris is the real prize in this trade for LA). This isn’t a team going fully into the tank.
The reality is moving Griffin is the next domino in the rebuild, and things will now pick up steam. (Chris Paul forcing his way out this summer was the first domino.) The buzz is the Clippers want to clear out some cap space to make a push for LeBron James this summer (I have heard the Clippers are not on his radar, and these moves don’t make them contenders).
Williams is the current leader in the Sixth Man of the Year race and should draw value on the market from a playoff team looking for bench help. He can create for himself and others, and while he’s a defensive liability he can get buckets.
Jordan is one of the best rim protecting/rim running bigs in the game. The Clippers have not been able to reach a contract extension and have struggled to generate much trade interest in him because: 1) He’s a free agent next summer and teams are afraid he’s a rental; 2) the center market is saturated (with the move to more four/five combos there is less of a demand for more traditional centers such as Jordan). Those factors are not changing.
The question in both cases is: Has what the Clippers demanded in a trade come down? If no, then the Clippers will play it out with this roster for the season, then try to trade Williams this summer and let Jordan walk. If the asking price has dropped, deals will follow before the Feb. 8 deadline.