Few NBA players are truly untouchable.
According to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne, the Clippers "have strong interest" in chasing LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony this offseason. While they would likely need to execute a sign-and-trade to bring a top-shelf talent on board, Shelburne reports that moving Griffin is not an option:
One player they have no interest in moving, however, is forward Blake Griffin. While the Clippers would need to move significant players and money to make a run at either James or Anthony, sources told ESPN that Clippers president and coach Doc Rivers has told Griffin on numerous occasions that he considers him "untouchable" in any trade.
A lot of the players painted with the "untouchable" brush have an exception to their status. They are unmovable unless a ridiculous trade offer comes along—and seemingly any transaction involving the four-time MVP would qualify as such.
That's why Bleacher Report's Michael Pina is unconvinced that the Clippers would see parting with Griffin as a deal-breaker in a potential move for James:
NBC Sports' Dan Feldman sees the situation the same way:
Griffin is extremely valuable to the Clippers, and I’m sure they don’t want to trade him.
But if pressed, there is absolutely no way they should should keep Griffin over acquiring LeBron.
Loyalty is important. LeBron is more important.
And if the Clippers are serious about landing LeBron, they’d likely have to part with Griffin in a sign-and-trade.
Of course, no one's opinion on the issue matters more than that of Rivers. If the Clippers president and coach does not want to move Griffin, then there's no point to disagree with Rivers' assessment.
What remains to be seen, though, is whether keeping Griffin off the table would take the Clippers out of the running for James. L.A. could build a sign-and-trade package around center DeAndre Jordan, although it's hard to tell how much interest the Miami Heat would have in such an offer.
James' agent, as reported by ESPN's Chris Broussard, informed the Heat that the two-time champion will exercise the early termination option in his contract:
Once James hits the open market, he'll have no shortage of potential landing spots. As for which ones would interest him, there are reports that he'd take a long look at the Clippers.
"The most intriguing move on the mind of James and his camp, sources told Yahoo Sports, would be a sign-and-trade scenario with the Los Angeles Clippers in which James could play with close friend Chris Paul and under president-coach Doc Rivers," Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports wrote.
If James has interest in the Clippers, they have to do everything in their power to explore the possibility. If there's a way to do that without moving Griffin, a 25-year-old still tapping into his full potential, then that's obviously the preferred path.
They would need the Heat's help, though, and Miami might not comply without Griffin's involvement. Still, if the Heat are convinced James is definitely leaving, maybe they'd be willing to see what else the Clippers had to offer.
A Big Three of James, Paul and Griffin could move the Clippers to the front of all championship discussions. With Rivers running the show, L.A. might have the leadership needed to make it work right out of the gate.
That is, as long as Griffin's untouchable status doesn't deny the Clippers a shot at James. If it does, all eyes will be on Rivers to see if he might amend that status.