A trade can often have a domino effect on the rest of the league, with other teams scrambling to make counter moves to bolster their own roster. After David Stern vetoed the infamous Chris Paul trade –which would have sent the All-Star point guard from New Orleans to the Lakers– there were many dominoes that remained untouched. Kobe Bryant lost his chance to catch the ghost of Michael Jordan and OKC lost their shot at a basketball dynasty. A travesty, some might say.
However, if there’s a positive to be taken from this situation, it’s that the Chris Paul trade breathed new life into the other Los Angeles franchise. Perpetual basement dwellers, little brother of the Lakers and laughing stock of the league, the Los Angeles Clippers were seemingly doomed to eternal irrelevance. The arrival of ‘CP3’ changed their fortunes significantly.
Chris Paul joined a promising, athletic young front-court of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The trio brought excitement to a once miserable franchise, which became L.A.’s premier team, as Kobe and the Lakers faded away. Lob City was the new Showtime.
Six years and zero conference final appearances later, the Clippers are the NBA’s perennial underachievers. Year after year, the Clippers are picked as contenders, but come post-season, one way or another, they proved to be pretenders. While some of their failure can be attributed to injuries, a lack of depth, or even the ‘Clippers curse’, Paul and co. must shoulder most of the blame. In what was surely the most disappointing moment in franchise history, the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead against the Houston Rockets in the 2015 Playoffs. As last season’s Golden State Warriors will know all too well, a capitulation like that is inexcusable.
The Clippers are the first team in NBA history to blow a series lead in five straight postseasons. pic.twitter.com/erZVz2RXRP
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 30, 2017
The expectations of previous years did not weigh upon the Clippers this season, as they entered their first-round match up with the Utah Jazz, but the end result was all too familiar. For a record fifth straight postseason, the Los Angeles Clippers blew a series lead, holding a 2-1 lead after three games. This may be the last season that the Clippers retain this sense of familiarity, as far as their roster is considered. The futures of Paul, J.J Redick and Griffin are uncertain, as all three are likely to enter free agency this summer. Losing a member of their talented core could signal the beginning of a downward spiral, towards the depths of the Western Conference standings.
With the Lakers possessing one of the most promising young cores in the league, and the Clippers’ future hanging in the balance, the fortunes of both teams seem destined to head in opposite directions. We are now at what seems like the end of the road for this Clippers team, with nothing but two division titles to show for their supposed dominance over their illustrious rivals. When we eventually look back at this period in NBA history, the reign of the red and blue Clippers could easily be forgotten, in a city that has always been purple and gold.