Ring the death knell. The championship window for the Los Angeles Clippers has officially closed. Both point guard Chris Paul and strong-arm forward Blake Griffin have opted-out of their contracts to become unrestricted free agents.
In Paul’s case, he is expected to return to the Clippers after using his new status to secure a max deal that another team can’t match.
The Clippers will have the ability to lure him back with a pact worth $210 million over five years.
Griffin on the other hand is expected to link with either the Houston Rockets or skip into the Eastern Conference and entertain a stint with the Boston Celtics
There is the chance that Griffin could return to the Clippers. If he and Paul both boost their bank accounts with max deals, it will handicap the Clippers financially as they try to fill other gaps to get them over the hump.
What is left is a situation where the Clippers will most likely retain their floor general Paul, pray Griffin doesn’t end up with the Rockets and begin their search for a new bully in the paint.
No matter what, the chemistry is broken and if Paul is lured away by a team such as the San Antonio Spurs, they will return to the darkest of days when they were the laughing stock of the NBA.
Once you’ve tasted steak it’s hard to go back to Hamburger Helper.
If and this is a big if, Lonzo Ball can help the Los Angeles Lakers turn around, it should be worth noting that the Staples Center apparently isn’t big enough to hold two franchises that are on the upswing.
As free agency looms next month, there are a variety of reasons why Griffin could easily be a Rocket.
#1 The Missing Piece
Griffin hates the Golden State Warriors with more than a passion. There is not another team in the league that can utilize his services and has the ability to stuff the Warriors 2017-18 Championship dreams down their throat more than the Rockets.
A James Harden/Blake Griffin tandem would be hell to deal with and would be the best case scenario for all parties concerned.
#2 The Money
If the Clippers do offer Griffin a max deal of $180 million over five years, other teams can only top him off at $130 million.
$50 million dollars is hard for even the wealthiest man to eat. Houston becomes interesting financially because some of that money can be offset by the Texas’ lack of income tax.
The decision becomes a lot easier, if the Clippers offer and if the Rockets can clear the cap space. But with Rockets GM Daryl Morey at the helm, anything and everything is possible.
Coming full circle, the Clippers were a favored pick in the West here at Salute for sometime. But with players fighting for their last big contract and championships, a shakeup is inevitable and that’s a shame.
There were a few years that Lob City appeared to have it all. Injuries and the inability to get hot in the postseason changed their fortunes.
If the NBA has shown us anything, it’s that teams win titles based by limiting the amount of games that they play in the postseason.
The Clippers fought playoff wars with teams like the 2011-12 edition of the Memphis Grizzlies that rendered them helpless for the next team to pick at their broken and brittle bones.
A streak here and there and it’s a given that the Clippers would have at least turned in a NBA Finals appearance or better during this era that is coming to a close.