The Los Angeles Clippers are quietly climbing their way to the top of the Golden State Warriors-led Western Conference. Sitting at the fourth spot, the DeAndre Jordan squad is only a handful of games away from the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite the remarkable lineup of the NBA team though, which includes Jordan, Blake Griffin, Paul Pierce and Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers remain at a loss on how to improve their performance this season.
It is no secret that the Los Angeles Clippers are gunning for the top spot in the Stephen Curry division, with the goal to eventually beat the LeBron James-led Eastern Conference and bring home the NBA championship. However, the star-studded lineup appears to not be working as perfectly as Doc River had initially hoped. To add to the concerns of the basketball squad, Griffin is injured as well as suspended. Hence, the Los Angeles Clippers are without their star player.
Surprisingly, however, the Jordan team is delivering notable performances night after night following Griffin's absence. In fact, Rivers is finally sounding optimistic over the future of the NBA squad. The Los Angeles Clippers head coach shared that he "loves" where they are at now and how everyone is performing.
"Love it," said Rivers via the Los Angeles Times, referring to the recent games of the Los Angeles Clippers sans Griffin. The head coach added, "Couldn't be in a better place, especially when you factor in the injuries, especially to a top-10 player and what we've gone through, I'll take that all year, every day, so it's nice."
The optimism in Rivers' statements now prompts the question regarding Griffin's future with the team. Earlier reports indicate that the Los Angeles Clippers are mulling over the exit of the power forward. Sports analysts also feel that Griffin may no longer be as relevant as before to the NBA team.
"For one, they're 17-5 without him this season," noted Yaron Weitzman of SB Nation. He added, "That doesn't necessarily mean they're better off with him on the bench going forward, but it is easy to draw up a scenario where a team built around Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan pick-and-rolls, J.J. Redickspotting up across the perimeter and whatever assets they could net in a Griffin deal (such as a capable wing defender) morphs the Clippers into a more well-balanced and potent team."
Weitzman further shared that the presence of Griffin only contributed one point per 100 possessions to the Los Angeles Clippers this season. The sports analyst noted that these stats indicate how the NBA team's defense became stronger and better without the power forward in the hardwood court.
Amid the rumors of NBA trade involving Griffin, however, Rivers appears to be sticking to the comments leaning towards keeping the star. He told Chris Broussard of ESPN that the Los Angeles Clippers have no intention of letting go of Griffin.
"I talked to Doc Rivers about this. He adamantly denied it, of course. You don't know who's necessarily telling the truth, but he denied it," said Broussard. He added, "He said, 'Look, Blake Griffin is going to be with us. All these rumors out here, don't believe them. He's going to be with the Clippers past Thursday.'"