Jamal Crawford: If Clips don’t win it all, it might be time to blow it up
There is a lot of pressure on the Los Angeles Clippers to win a championship this season.
This is now Year 5 for the Chris Paul-Blake Griffin-DeAndre Jordan trio, and while three Western Conference semifinals trips in four postseasons is nothing to scoff at, the Clippers have yet to make a serious run in the playoffs that validates keeping their expensive and sometimes awkward-fitting core together.
Before the season, president of basketball operations and head coach Doc Rivers told Zach Lowe (then with Grantland but now with ESPN) that the team would strongly consider trading away one of his stars after the season if the Clippers didn’t win it all this year. It appears he’s not the only win in Clipperland who feels this way.
In a recent interview with ESPN, Clippers super-sub Jamal Crawford said he thinks the team has to consider blowing up its core if they don’t a win a championship this postseason:
That’s a candid take, even if it’s a difficult one to admit. The Clippers don’t necessarily need to break their core up after this season, but if they don’t win it all, they would be smart to at least explore that possibility and see what options are out there.
Crawford, who is ever-optimistic and is regarded as one of the nicest guys in the NBA, offered a positive spin on the state of the Clippers by stating that they’ve beaten each of the last two champions — the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs — in the past two playoffs:
That likely means nothing in the grand scheme of things, though, as the Warriors and Spurs are playing at historic levels that indicate they would be heavy favorites against the Clippers in a playoff series. Sure, the Clippers beat both teams in seven-game series, but it’s hard to imagine either team being intimidated by them.
However, half of the battle is believing, and the Clippers seem to believe they have a shot against the top two teams in the West, which is more than any non-Thunder West team can say. With Paul, Griffin, Jordan, Rivers, J.J. Redick and Crawford, the Clippers have a group that’s been in multiple playoff battles together, and has seemingly improved over each postseason.
With that said, the Clippers appear to be a lock for 55 wins and a trip to the second round every season, which could be viewed as a failure, or could be viewed as a positive given the state of the franchise for multiple decades. Clippers fans don’t deserve another rebuild and another half-decade of a lottery-dweller after dealing with that for nearly 30 years.
No one wants to be stuck as the fourth- or fifth-best team for half a decade or longer, but the Clippers are in the perfect position to capitalize — and nearly did last season — if injuries and matchups break right for them.
Blowing that up this offseason, even after five years — remember this is just Rivers’ third season in L.A. — could be premature. Only time will tell, but if the Clippers suffer an embarrassing collapse for the fourth year in a row — their last three playoff exits have all been ugly — it’ll certainly make it more difficult to justify keeping their core together.
Jovan Buha covers the NBA for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter: @jovanbuha
”If we don’t win it this year — and I’m not speaking for anybody, just real talk — they have to consider it,” Crawford said. “Because that would be what, five years since Chris came? Blake’s been here that long. Five years for myself. A lot of teams don’t get that kinda time.”
”The good thing about it, though, is that the last two champions, the Spurs and the Warriors, we beat,” Crawford said. “Obviously we have to go through more teams than that, but we’re not that far. It’s encouraging. It’s very encouraging.”