Who ya got?
Short-term injuries will heal
I totally understand the need to hit the panic button right now. The Clippers have lost seven of their past nine games and are playing their next four games on the road against Orlando, Miami, New York and Philadelphia. This could get ugly fast, and there are plenty of trade proposals out there that would net the Clippers a veteran presence to shake up the roster and perhaps help them turn the tide.
The problem is the biggest veteran additions they could possibly make are sitting on their benches right now and are expected back in the lineup any day. Chris Paul has missed 11 games with a bruised right kneecap, and the Clippers, not surprisingly, have gone 5-6 in his absence. Paul has returned to practice and is hoping to return this week. Chuancey Billups, who has played only three games this season, has returned to practice as well and is eyeing a comeback with Paul.
Suddenly, the Clippers would have their starting backcourt back, which would allow Eric Bledsoe and Willie Green to return to the bench. Remember, with Paul running point for the first team and Bledsoe running point for the second unit, the Clippers jumped out to a 32-9 record at the midway point of the season, which was tied for the best in the NBA.
They were in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency and were beating the top teams in league like the Heat, Bulls, Spurs (twice) and Grizzlies (twice).
The Clippers have proved they are a championship contender and one of the best teams in the league when they're healthy. They can't make a major move and shake up this team's long-term goals because they're in a slump right now while they're dealing with short-term injuries.
Stars rule playoffs
For most of the season, the Clippers have generally been regarded as the deepest team in the NBA. Their bench built leads when the starters went out of the game. Every night a new player seemed to step up for a starring turn. Heck, they were so good, veterans like Grant Hill, Lamar Odom and Chauncey Billups could take forever to come back from injuries or play their way into shape.
But being a deep team is generally how you win in the regular season, how you weather injuries and setbacks and the grind of monstrous road trips like the two-week trip the Clippers are currently on.
In the playoffs, though, it's about star power. Rotations get shorter. Starters' minutes get longer. And when it's winning time, it's on the top two or three guys on the team to make that happen. Chris Paul is more than capable of that. Blake Griffin probably is but has never truly been there before. Billups and Odom have won before, but they are role players on this team. The rest of the roster is pretty much venturing into uncharted territory.
Could this group rise to the moment? Sure. But if you're the Clippers and you have a chance to acquire a guy like Kevin Garnett, who has been all through the playoffs and won more than his fair share over the years, I think you have to look long and hard at that. Eric Bledsoe is way too steep of a price to pay for Garnett straight up, but what about DeAndre Jordan? As good as I think Jordan is and can still become, coach Vinny Del Negro simply doesn't play him enough to justify what the Clippers are paying him. And if he can't get enough time to grow here, perhaps a change would be good for him too.
Whatever the case, and whatever the trade may be, the Clippers can't be afraid to make it. You win championships by thinking big and pushing the envelope, not by holding on and hoping it's enough.