Clippers power forward Blake Griffin is the most irrepressibly watch-able player in the league, the story of the season, and the apple of every fan’s eye.Admittedly, it’s unusual for every NBA city in America to have designs on a rookie, even if he is in the second year of his contract. But such is the reputation of the Clippers: an NBA backwater with a cretinous owner that could never, ever, persuade a superstar like Griffin to willingly play there.
It’s not just the lumpen cheering masses, who populate message boards and openly flout reality, pining for Griffin. Local media, too, has been guilty at times. Today, Tom Ziller of SB Nation draws our attention to a column by Mac Engel of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, which includes choice passages like this one:
By the start of the 2013 season Blake Griffin needs to be in a Dallas Mavericks uniform.
Mavs Prime Minister Mark Cuban needs to take this from the sports-bar hypothetical to “The Decision” reality. That means clear out all necessary salary cap space and go LeBron on BGriff in the summer of ’13. Jim grey will be available to make the announcement.
As ZIller puts it, Engel demonstrates “a remarkable level of disengagement with the reality of NBA free agency, the rookie scale and cap rules”. More to the point, Ziller notes, it’s indicative of a trend: The idea that a perennially lousy team with a troubled corporate structure doesn’t have any business employing a player like Griffin.
Certainly, you can not like to see anything good come Donald Sterling’s way, and the laws of karma dictate that he will one day be starved out of the league. But Griffin on the Clippers—like Kevin Durant going to the strip-mined Sonics—is the best proof possible that the system works.
The Clippers were bad; through the draft, they got keepers like Griffin, Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Al Farouq-Aminu, and Eric Bledsoe. In free agency, they were able to land Baron Davis, despite their awful reputation. Successfully rebuilt, the other Los Angeles team is now arguably the most promising young team in the league. They even have an outside shot at the playoffs.
It’s unfortunate, and unlikely, that they have done so with Sterling at the top. That doesn’t mean, though, that we should root for this nucleus to be dismantled and sold to the highest, most accomplished bidder. If that happens, we’re no better than the Yankees.
Griffin could end up changing teams; to do so, he would have to decline the Clippers’ qualifying offer and spend a year in contract limbo before cashing in on the unrestricted market. He could make his intentions clear and force a trade. But all of this is hypothetical, and pretty far down the road. For now, let’s at least give the Clippers a chance to screw it all up first.
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