The Clippers were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Blazers, but there were extenuating circumstances. Both Blake Griffin and Chris Paul were lost for the season due to injury, and there simply wasn’t enough firepower left on the roster to beat a Portland team that L.A. blew out in the first two games of the series when its team was fully intact.
That’s enough for Doc Rivers to believe that he still has a strong enough squad, one that can contend for a title if everyone is healthy next season. So instead of pursuing a blockbuster trade that would break up the core of the roster, Rivers said (via the Associated Press) that he plans on bringing as many players as possible back next season.
Rivers also mentioned the team’s injuries when making these remarks.
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On the one hand, Rivers has a point. Griffin missed 41 games due to a troublesome quad injury, along with the broken hand he suffered in a fight with a friend who also happened to be one of the team’s staffers. And despite the perennial All-Star’s absence, L.A. won 53 games and finished as the fourth seed in the Western Conference.
But on the other, it’s unclear if a team with Griffin, Paul and Jordan as its core is strong enough to compete with the best of the best.
The Clippers will make some tweaks this summer; Jamal Crawford (who was named Sixth Man of the Year) and Austin Rivers are likely to be among the team’s notable free agents. But if Rivers is to be believed, the three best players on the team will be brought back to try it again for at least one more season.