When the LA Clippers traded away Blake Griffin, common thinking had the team approaching a rebuild. However, Tobias Harris has given the Clippers a jolt, and the team is seeing its players–namely Danilo Gallinari–returning to health.
Therefore, the LA brain trust decided to stand pat at the NBA trade deadline. The group held onto DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams, and even opted to re-sign Williams to a contract extension. The team will go forward with Avery Bradley, as well.
If the Clippers can stay healthy, they are in prime position to jump in the Western Conference standings. The New Orleans Pelicans, who remain a half-game ahead of the Clippers, are dealing with a crippling injury to DeMarcus Cousins, who will miss the rest of the season with a torn Achilles tendon. With New Orleans reeling, LA could jump ahead as soon as tonight, when it takes on the Detroit Pistons.
The Clippers are also just two games in back of the fifth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder.
Not only has Gallinari been healthy, guard Austin Rivers has been upgraded to questionable for the team’s tilt against the Pistons. Although he may not ultimately play, the designation is a good sign that he’s headed in a positive direction.
Griffin has gotten off to a strong start with the Pistons, just like Harris in LA. Assistant coach Mike Woodson said the Clippers’ goal is still to make the playoffs and show daily improvement.
“I was with Blake for 3.5 years, and Blake is a great pro who did a lot of wonderful things for our franchise," Woodson told the LA Times. "But, hey, he's in Detroit now. Detroit is happy with their situation. We're happy with the guys that came our way, and we've got to continue to coach and push these guys to get better."
Although the Clippers will have financial flexibility this season, the organization could opt to retain players like Jordan and Bradley, as it did with Williams. Much of that decision will be based on how the Clippers close the 2017-18 season.
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