Last summer DeAndre Jordan was one of the hottest names on the restricted free agent market.
Fans and general managers alike drooled over his size and athleticism and imagined what he could do for their respective teams.
Sure, Jordan is young and physically imposing, but just what type of upside does he truly have?
Furthermore, where exactly can the Clippers hope to improve? Paul will probably play as good as last year, and so too will Griffin. But neither of them is likely to take a huge step forward production-wise.
So it falls on those around them to help this team take the next step.
Is it really a smart bet that Jordan can become elite? If the answer is no, doesn't it make sense to explore the trade market for him?
Here are seven reasons why the Clippers need to explore dealing Jordan.
There are two things Jordan has going for him right now.
One, he is very young.
Two, he has great athleticism, which leads people to believe that he has only scratched the surface of his potential.
Personally, I think Jordan has pretty much shown us exactly what he is. He is a big, athletic guy that doesn't really have a good feel for the offensive side of the game.
He also doesn't have the greatest of instincts defensively, so he relies on his athleticism rather than playing a smart game.
Therefore, every year he ages, his value will diminish.
Obviously we have a long ways to go until Jordan's athleticism comes crashing down, but more and more people are going to come to the realization that Jordan will never be more than what he is.
Per 36 minutes, none of his numbers have really improved since his rookie year. He still scores about 10 points per 36, still commits a bunch of fouls and still grabs about 11 boards.
He can only score on dunks and put-backs, and his shot-blocking ability is countered by his foul-prone tendencies that are tied to his lack of instincts.
I think that the Clippers should find it alarming that he has not shown any marked improvement to his game since he entered the league.
They also should find it alarming that they are paying a big man about $33 million over the next three years and they can't count on him to stay on the court more than 27 minutes per game.
Every year that passes will bring more people that realize this, and therefore less trading partners.
Sure, Chris Paul likes having guys around the hoop that can catch lobs and score easy buckets which in turn create easy assists.
But he already has that with Blake Griffin.
Griffin will certainly become a more complete offensive player with time, but doesn't it make more sense to pair him with someone that is more offensively skilled?
Take someone like DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento.
The Kings are certainly growing tired of Cousins' antics and lack a veteran leader that can reel him in.
With the Clips, Cousins would be the perfect compliment to Griffin.
He has the physical traits that Jordan does on the defensive side of the rock but also is an offensive threat in a multiple of ways.
Obviously Cousins isn't the only option out there, and there are no guarantees that the Kings would even bite on a Jordan for Cousins deal.
But the point is that Jordan has trade value and two things that can't be taught: size and youth.
The Clips need to become more dynamic on the offensive side of the ball if they are going to compete for a title.
Take a look at the Clippers roster as it stands.
They have seven players under contract with two more under player options that will probably be exercised.
Those nine guys make a combined $57 million and change, which is right around the salary cap.
The Clippers will still have to fill at least three more spots on the roster at the minimum, and probably more like five.
Team owner Donald Sterling has always been tight-fisted with cash, last year being the obvious exception.
Even so, there are not a ton of great options out there in free agency that will be brought in on the cheap that can make a big contribution.
The Clippers need to fill holes at shooting guard and they need depth at both forward spots.
And besides Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers do not have any viable trading chips.
They also need to show Paul that he should want to stay around after his contract expires after next year, so it is in their interest to improve quickly.
Jordan really is the only player with value that could bring back some serious talent.
If we look at the Kings again, imagine a package of Cousins and any of a number of wing players that Sacramento could offer.
Right there they could kill two birds with one stone.
Detroit is another team that would desire Jordan and could offer a package of picks and a dynamic scorer like Ben Gordon.
There are plenty of teams that would crave Jordan's size and would be able to offer up multiple players for him.
So the Clippers basically get an inside presence that can grab rebounds and block shots, struggles on offense, and commits a lot of fouls in DeAndre Jordan.
For this, they will pay him an average of about $11 million or so over the next few years.
Based on that criteria, there are at least 10 other players that could do a similar job, numbers wise, and made much less than Jordan last year.
Ekpe Udoh, Bismack Biyombo, JaVale McGee, Roy Hibbert, Greg Stiemsma, Samuel Dalembert, Omer Asik, Robin Lopez, Kevin Seraphin and Serge Ibaka each made a fraction of what Jordan made last year, but were in the same ballpark as Jordan in blocks per 48 minutes.
Now, I'm not saying that all of these guys are better than Jordan, but each of them do one of the things that makes Jordan valuable as good or better.
Of course there are plenty of arguments why these players make less, and a few of them are due for huge raises.
But next year, I am fairly certain that not one of these guys will make more than Jordan.
Okay, so we already explored some of the trade possibilities for Jordan, but I left out one major issue.
Right now, the Clippers do not have a first round pick.
Therefore, they will be forced to look at a weak free agent crop to try to supplement a thin roster that is already near the salary cap threshold.
That being said, there are plenty of teams that are looking to get out of the first round, or at the very least move down.
To some of those teams, the prospect of a proven big man like Jordan could tempt them right into dealing a very good pick plus talent.
They also each have some talent on the roster, so the Clips could not only get out from under Jordan's contract, but they could also get younger in the process and add a few more pieces.