The Los Angeles Clippers could not get past the Utah Jazz after forcing the series to game seven. Now we wonder what’s next for them.
As we watched the clock tick down to zero, we were saddened that another year was over and the Clippers still had not made the run we wanted in the playoffs. After fighting to get to game seven, they lost that game, 104-91.
We watched as they shook hands and hugged, showcasing good sportsmanship, leaving Staples Center for the last time for the 2016-17 season, but I couldn’t stop thinking was this the last time we will see Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan together?
Since the Clippers version of the “Big Three” was put together, there is no doubt they have not lived up to the expectations that was put upon them. The Clippers brought in Paul to complement Griffin and Jordan with his superstar level play. He is a pure point guard and with his skills he could not only get the ball to Griffin, Jordan and some other key players, he could also be an offensive threat by getting his own shot.
Griffin has never reached the plateau we thought he would reach due to his injuries. We had high hopes when we saw him jump over that car in the 2011 NBA Dunk Contest.
He just could never stay on the court, especially in the most vital games. This year’s playoff run was no different with Griffin going down because of a toe injury he suffered in game three of the series. This was the second consecutive year Griffin suffered a season-ending injury.
Could the Clippers have won the series if the injury to Griffin never occurred? I don’t know, but I do know they would’ve had a better chance.
Paul, who entered game seven with an average of 50-40-90 (field goal percentage, three-point percentage and free throw percentage), also was averaging 27.3 points and 10 assist per game. He found himself in a whirlwind.
The defense of the Utah Jazz swallowed him whole, forcing other players to step up. The Jazz did their homework by studying the Clippers and all the things they love to do. What the Clippers needed was for the role players to come to life and help Paul.
He received some help from Jamal Crawford, finally, who excelled in isolation basketball which got him 20 points, three rebounds and three assists. J.J. Redick, on the other hand, only had three points, no assists and two rebounds.
The Clippers couldn’t put together one game where Crawford and Redick both were “on” offensively. That was exactly what they needed to pull out game seven. It allowed the Jazz defense to play off one shooter, Redick, and concentrate on the other shooter, Crawford, which, of course, worked in their favor.
The Clippers have been down this road before, “too many time” in the words of Paul. Redick called this ending a “recurring disappointment.” The Clippers organization served the fans disappointment after disappointment, so should we expect this team to look the same next year?
The Clippers and their head coach, Doc Rivers, declined to discuss the future of the team during the post-game media availabilities. The thought of disbanding the roster has been something the Clippers have been dealing with for years, especially in recent years with their postseason disasters.
With Redick an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Paul and Griffin able to opt out of their contracts, what was once a hypothetical question is now forthcoming.
As free agents, veteran players are allowed to choose who they want to be their employers. It’s not up to the Clippers, but it’s a decision made solely by the player. Of course other things will be taken into consideration but it’s still up to the player.
The provision in the new collective bargaining agreement could earn Paul close to $200 million over the next five years if he decides to stay with the Clippers. Griffin and Redick could give the Clippers the advantage in a bidding war should they return, but that’s not for certain.
Following the game seven loss, Griffin will have nine weeks to make his decision on whether he wants to remain with the Clippers or choose another team. Redick is contemplating the same dilemma. These men, being highly competitive, face the question that inherently influences their decision: “where can I go to win?”
We don’t know the exactly what they’re thinking, but we know they want to win.
Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.