The LA Clippers came into the game vs. Portland minus Blake Griffin, who was traded the day before to the Detroit Pistons in a blockbuster deal that shook up the NBA. With the Clippers hanging in with all their injuries and Doc Rivers doing his perhaps best coaching job this season, Lawrence Frank (head of basketball operations and lead advisor Jerry West), thought it was time for a change. Rumors have Lou Williams and DeAndre Jordan also on the trading block before the trade deadline coming up in about 2 weeks.
Griffin had just signed a huge 5 yr, $171 million dollar deal wasn’t the way the team wanted to go as his production has gone down a bit and his constant injuries wore too much on the team. They also sent Willy Reed and Bryce Johnson in the trade. In return, however, they got some very good players and draft choices. Tobias Harris is a small/power forward who can score and is under-rated. He was averaging about 18 points per game. They also received one of the top defensive guards and very good all around player Avery Bradley but he is a free agent after this season and is still injured currently but should be back in not too long. They also got 7-3 center Boban Marjanovic, and a first and second-round draft pick.
In this game, Portland was too tough for the short-handed Clippers as none of the new players dressed. Lou Williams had a terrible shooting night going 5-26 and that was too much to overcome. Lillard led the Trailblazers in scoring and they had a balanced attack overall. The final was 104-96.
The good news for the Clippers is Gallinari finally returned from injury and Austin Rivers should be back soon. Harrell continues to play very well as he will get valuable minutes at power forward now. With the additions of the new players, the team will have better depth and they cleared some salary cap space for a bigger named free agent next year. They still have a good chance to make the playoffs with the last 2 spots up for grabs between them, Denver and New Orleans (who just lost Cousins for the season.
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