Doc Rivers says he doesn’t plan to break up Clippers’ core
Once again the Clippers had an impressive 53-win season where they were sixth in the NBA in offensive and defensive rating — something done without Blake Griffin for large stretches of it — but it ended early in the playoffs. This time the reason was a legitimate one — Chris Paul and Griffin were lost to injuries — but the results are the same.
Is it time for a major overhaul in Los Angeles?
Not if you ask coach/GM Doc Rivers. Here is what he said on Monday, via Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times and Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.
Doc Rivers: "How many teams are in the top 5 or top 6 in scoring and defense? Three, and we were one. The numbers tell us we’re really good.— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) May 2, 2016
Doc Rivers on team's free agents: "They all want to come back, but they’ve all played well and so they’ve all made it more difficult."— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) May 2, 2016
Bullet points from Doc's media session today: No one needs surgery, team wants to bring back as many FA as possible...— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) May 2, 2016
Those free agents Rivers likes are key bench guys: Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jeff Green. In the summer of 2017, Rivers and everyone else on the planet expects Paul and Griffin to opt out.
While the Clippers are good there is one big problem — Golden State is better and not going anywhere. They loom over the West like Everest. And that’s not to mention the Spurs will continue to be good and, depending on what happens with their key free agent, Oklahoma City is a very good team. The top of the West is stacked, and it’s hard to see the Clippers climbing out of it as currently constructed. They are in a loop where they are good but not good enough.
Changing that is not simple.
There are plenty of rumors that the Clippers will seriously listen to offers for Griffin this summer, and that they laid the groundwork for it at the deadline. But with Griffin showing some age and wanting a long max contract a year from now, how much are teams going to give up to get him if they could lose him in free agency? And will those teams want to keep him at that price in 2017? While the Clippers may be open to a deal they are a win-now team that can’t just get prospects and picks back for him, they need to get better now. That deal may not be available.
The Clippers most likely will come back with their core next season and make one more run at it, just because better options will not present themselves.
But the Clippers will be out there looking for a blockbuster.