Los Angeles Clippers: Finding Chris Paul’s Successor

Jan 6, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) during the third quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. The Clippers defeated the Kings 106-98. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran point guard Chris Paul can’t run the Los Angeles Clippers on the court forever, so it’s time for Doc Rivers to begin the dreaded search for his replacement.

Chris Paul, a nine-time NBA All-Star, has done things his way successfully at the point guard position for the past 12 seasons.

As the on-the-court orchestrator of the Los Angeles Clippers, he has changed the culture of a once-poor franchise into a perennial powerhouse in the always competitive Western Conference.

The idea of Paul not being on the court is not something that has had to plague his teammates often and replacing him rarely seemed like an actual discussion.

As of late, the injury bug has hit Paul.

After suffering a season-ending hand fracture that cost him and the Clippers their first-round playoff matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers last spring, Paul recently suffered another hand injury during a matchup with Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder that put him on the shelf for six to eight weeks.

This devastating injury places plenty of doubt on the championship hopes for the Clippers, forcing Doc Rivers to look at backups Raymond Felton and his own sonm Austin Rivers, to hold down the fort.

If the injury last season wasn’t indication enough that the Clippers need to strongly consider searching for a strong successor, then this latest mishap should have the front office phones ringing off the hook.

The options are out there for Doc and company so I thought of a couple moves that will fix this glaring issue moving forward.

Free Agency/Trades

There will be players on the market after this season that could very well be available at this year’s trade deadline. The three names that pop out to me are Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Jennings.

All are on one to two-year contracts and could be on the trading block around deadline time. Rose and Jennings are playing to prove their worth in the league and may be interested in a winning situation with Los Angeles.

Rondo would be the most compelling only because of the strong relationship and respect he has for his former coach with the Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers. The reunion between the coach and player champions could be what Rondo needs to stay happy and productive.

Draft

The Clippers are in need of some young point guard talent, but considering their first-round pick heads to Toronto if it’s not in the lottery (not likely), they would have to make a trade to get any help.

In the event Rivers decides to make the Clippers big players in the upcoming draft and finds a way to trade for a pick, a player such as Dennis Smith Jr. from North Carolina State could be a target.

The 6’3″ freshman may look to go pro as he is averaging 19.5 points per game while dishing out 6.2 assists a contest, already drawing early comparisons to Paul.

On the latter side of the draft, an interesting pickup would be Creighton senior point guard Maurice Watson Jr. recently had his season cut short after tearing his ACL. Watson’s playmaking ability could come in handy.

He was averaging 8.4 assists before the injury, but Rivers would have to make some magic happen to even get into the second round. The Clippers’ pick in Round 2 belongs to the Celtics as part of trade that brought Austin Rivers to the club.

The Clippers brass will definitely consider every option at their disposal and it’s more than possible Doc could really just be thinking about grooming his own son after all and literally keep it in the family.

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