Los Angeles Clippers: Strip or add pieces? An offseason conundrum

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 23: Doc Rivers the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers gives instructions to Austin Rivers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 23: Doc Rivers the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers gives instructions to Austin Rivers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Clippers were left in a state of mediocrity after losing Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Now, LA must decide what to do with the future.

The Los Angeles Clippers are much more talented than the worst teams in the league. The problem is, however, that the best teams in the league are far more talented than the Los Angeles Clippers.

After never reaching the full potential of lob city the Los Angeles Clippers decided to strip it down. Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets and is now contending for a title.

After signing a massive, five-year extension with Blake Griffin, the team realized that Griffin alone was not enough of a star to lead a championship caliber team. Knowing that his large contract would cause complications later, the front office traded him to the Detroit Pistons; who still missed the playoffs.

In that trade was Tobias Harris, who matched Griffin after the trade. Since the deal, Harris averaged 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists on 47.3 percent shooting. Griffin averaged 19.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists on 43 percent shooting.

That is not all the Clippers have heading into the offseason. There is Danilo Gallinari, who is good when he is healthy. There is Patrick Beverley, who is one of the best defensive guards in the league that missed nearly all of 2017. They have Lou Williams and Milos Teodosic off the bench. Austin Rivers is progressing nicely.

DeAndre Jordan has a player option but is set to make $24 million. No team on the open market will be willing to pay that for Jordan, so he very well may opt into the last year of his deal.

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This is enough talent to put the Clippers into playoff contention, but not much further than that. First and foremost, there is no true number one guy; one guy that can take over the game for the Clippers. There arguably isn’t even any all-stars on this team, unless you consider Harris, Jordan or Williams all-star caliber.

Thus, the Clippers are at a crossroad. On one hand, the Clippers can hold on to the talent on the roster and try to acquire someone like Kawhi Leonard; who can not only make the team title contenders but can lure in other stars.

Leonard has been connected to LA, but that route may be the most unsure. Leonard alone would not be enough to overthrow the Warriors in the West, it would be a multi-year process. However, after next season, both Leonard and Jordan would be hitting the open market. Los Angeles does not have enough cap space to add another star, either.

Then there is the other route of stripping the team down completely and stocking up on youth; initiating a rebuild that could be an accelerated version of the Lakers. Los Angeles has two high lottery picks — their own and the Pistons — and can easily trade up in the draft.

Pieces like Harris, Beverley, Jordan and Williams are all tradeable. While it would be stripping the team of its best players, it may be the way to go. Gallinari and his large contract are not going anywhere, neither is Austin Rivers.

Los Angeles can get several solid young talents for Harris, Jordan and Williams; or even some early first-round picks.

While this process would be the longer one, it may indeed be the direction the Clippers need to go. Right now, the team is simply buying time until this inevitable move. There is not enough flexibility to turn this current team into a contender.

They are stuck.

The only way to get out of this corner is by stripping down the assets and looking to the future. It is going to happen anyways, the team will likely lose Jordan after the year and will have to trade the others at a later time. Instead of prolonging the inevitable, the Clippers can get a head start and build another contender that can be ready in four to five years.

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I know that is a tough reality to cope with if you are a fan. The last thing fans want is the feeling that a team simply is uninterested in winning, like the Miami Marlins. However, for the Los Angeles Clippers, it is imperative.