The New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers have been on different paths this season. The former team is in desperate need of a change but is looking to improve with potential negotiations to swap All-Star players Carmelo Anthony and Blake Griffin. It seems like a far-fetched concept, but it's one that must happen for both sides.
According to ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard, both sides have had internal discussions regarding the trade. They "have not yet spoken to one another about a potential trade," but league sources report it is being considered.
The Knicks have been in utter disarray this season, tied for the league's third-worst record at 10-22 with the Orlando Magic. Anthony has played well despite this, averaging 26.2 points and 8.9 rebounds while shooting 44.8 percent.
New York's struggles can't be placed solely on the shoulders of Anthony, but the team's identity is built around him.
The Clippers, on the other hand, sit at fourth in the Western Conference standings with a 23-12 record. Griffin has evolved into one of the top power forwards in the game, putting up 22.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per outing. His 52 percent field-goal percentage is solid, in addition to his 70.4 percent clip from the free-throw line.
The trade doesn't make much sense for Los Angeles initially, but digging deeper reveals what could push the deal to fruition. The Clippers are essentially built to win, with Paul and his five-year, $107 million contract extension at the helm.
L.A.'s roster construction has been largely the same since Paul joined the team in the 2011-12 season, yet the Clippers have been bounced from the playoffs both years. The team lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of last season's playoffs, and a shake-up of the roster could improve that.
The addition of new head coach Doc Rivers will surely pay dividends down the stretch, but another early exit from the playoffs would essentially make this Paul-and-Griffin experiment a failure. It ultimately works on the court, but it hasn't translated to success on a team level with championship aspirations.
Swapping Griffin for an All-Star like Anthony would certainly alter the identity of the Clippers, but it's a move that would push the team further. L.A.'s roster would more or less mirror what the Knicks have in New York yet with the best point guard in the NBA instead of Raymond Felton.
Many are quick to dismiss this potential deal, mostly due to Griffin's upside as a young player. He's still just 24 years old with a ton of potential, but the Clippers are hardly a team that is building for the future. L.A. essentially embraced a "win now" concept when they dealt for Paul, otherwise their once up-and-coming "Big Three" of Griffin, Eric Gordon and DeAndre Jordan would still remain together.
New York is clearly in need of a rebuild, and centering such a project around Griffin is one many teams would be envious of. His athleticism and upside are both attractive assets, not only in regard to building around a player but also for the environment of the Big Apple.
Griffin would ensure exciting basketball was a constant in New York, further expanding what is already one of the biggest brands in NBA in the Knicks.
Ultimately, this deal points to where both teams are headed. L.A. is clearly aiming for the NBA Finals, with a huge investment in Paul. The other roster moves point to the same concept by adding complementary players who, while fitting, are pricey enough to push the Clippers into the luxury tax.
The Knicks are in the same realm of paying luxury taxes, but the team's record is clearly indicative of their ceiling. Quitting while they're ahead (or behind depending on how you want to look at it) is the best move at this point. No minor trade or signing will fix the clash of personnel, unless it's a star-studded one like this potential Anthony and Griffin swap.
Both teams would be better off, not necessarily in the same facet but better in terms of direction. L.A. would have another All-Star to pair with Paul, in addition to a player who fits better with the team's identity.
"Lob City" is the phrase coined to describe the plethora of alley-oop plays from Paul to Griffin, but it isn't a brand of basketball that can lead to a championship.
New York would face a difficult task of rebuilding (once again), but at least this time around there's a terrific building block to look toward. Griffin would be the cornerstone of the franchise, a role he once played well in L.A. It's clear the Clippers are no longer his team, since the arrival of Paul and the chatter surrounding this deal.
Although unlikely, it's a great move for both sides and one that is being discussed nonetheless. It's hardly breaking news that Anthony and Paul have wanted to play together for some time, and they'd have the chance to with this deal.
New York and Los Angeles just have to pick up the phone to make it happen.
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