I wonder if it's too early for the Los Angeles Lakers to jump in the Blake Griffin sweepstakes.
As much as I love to admit it, Blake Griffin will be a perennial MVP candidate for the next decade or so.
It's not just this week's game I'm talking about, in which he exploded on Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom for 10 points in the fourth quarter, bringing his team from a seven-point deficit with just seven minutes remaining to a seven-point win; or the 47 points he just dropped on the Indiana Pacers on 19-for-24 shooting, making 9-of-11 free throws, grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing 3 assists.
If you've watched him this season, seeing how his consistent and aggressive play has brought the Clippers from a disastrous 1-13 start and 5-21 overall to winning 10 of their past 14 games, you get a good idea of what this young man brings to the table.
With quality wins over teams like the New Orleans Hornets and the San Antonio Spurs—both teams leading the league in wins at the time at the time they faced the Clippers—the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls, and Miami Heat—who came into the game having won their last 21 of 22 contests and got knocked off the top spot in the Eastern Conference—Blake Griffin has been shocking the league lately with MVP-caliber play.
We have a good month before the trade deadline to make this work. I think a fair trade would be Pau Gasol for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Lakers would absolutely take a straight Gasol-for-Griffin deal, but their salaries don't match which is why the Clippers need to throw in Jordan, who is Griffin's closest friend on the team, and someone the Lakers would want if they care to keep Griffin happy.
Even with Jordan in the deal, the Clippers would still need to make up over $11 million in salary given that Gasol is earning close to $18 million, and Griffin and Jordan earn just over $6 million combined.
The Clippers have Chris Kaman who makes around $11 million, but the Clippers wouldn't want to lose Griffin AND Kaman, and the Lakers would rather upgrade their point guard anyway.
So I can see Derek Fisher being thrown into the deal for the Clippers' Baron Davis, making the trade somewhat more equitable in salaries, as Davis makes over $13 million and Fisher makes just under $4 million. Fisher would also be attractive to the Clippers as a veteran leader with a history of big-time clutch shooting, despite his current regular season production.
From a common sense point of view, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for the Clippers to make this trade. Giving up three of their starters including a potential Hall of Famer and future MVP to take on the geriatric pair of Gasol and Fisher with their best years behind them is something no GM in their right mind would do.
But given Clippers owner Donald Sterling's overwhelming ineptitude as a professional sports team owner and general propensity to blow up any young, talented nucleus with potential, I think they would jump at this trade.
After all, Gasol and Fisher are experienced championship-winning veterans with a combined seven rings between them, bringing some of that "Lakers glamour" to the Clippers that their management covets so much.
Should the Lakers trade Pau Gasol for Blake Griffin?
What's more, Clippers management can imagine them putting large numbers of Laker-faithful bums in the empty seats of home Clipper games, perhaps making their dream of ridding their "Family Pack: Five tickets + hot dogs + soft drinks for $70!" packages once and forever.
What do the Lakers get? For one, they get a substantial upgrade in the power forward position. Gasol might have been the best big man in the league last year, but this season his decline in play has been grossly evident.
As a power forward, it's difficult to even rank him in the top five in the league anymore. Statistics-wise, he's not up there, and just watching him play all season you know the x-factor is missing this season too. We just haven't won the games that we're suppose to win and Pau has been part of the reason.
Griffin, on the other hand, is making a case for being the BEST power forward in the league, if not the best big man overall. Griffin is the only player in the NBA currently averaging more than 20 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists, just recorded his 27th straight double-double, and just scored the NBA season-high to date of 47 points.
With his ostentatious numbers at just 21 years of age, Griffin is nine years younger than Gasol and with a tremendous upside. Gasol, like Kobe Bryant, seems to have peaked the past couple of seasons and is now on the decline of his career. Griffin will be able to lead the Lakers into contention long after Gasol and Kobe Bryant have retired.
Which is the better Laker line-up?
With Davis, the Lakers also get a nice upgrade at the point. Despite being 31 years old, Davis is still five years younger than Fisher. When comparing their seasons, Davis is averaging 10.8 points, 7 assists and 2.5 rebounds. Fisher is putting up 6.6 points, 2.8 dishes and 2.0 boards. Both are averaging exactly 27:11 minutes per game. There is no debate who is having the better season.
In their most recent matchup, Davis put up 14 points, 8 assists and 2 boards. Fisher? Two points, 2 dishes and 3 rebounds. Even when adding Steve Blake's 2 points, 0 assists and 0 rebounds, Davis still comes up on top, outplaying the Lakers' point guard duo combined by 10 points and 6 assists while giving up just 1 rebound.
With the Lakers also receiving DeAndre Jordan, they add a quality young backup center who can also play the power forward position, and at 22 years old, has tremendous upside like Griffin. Compared to Andrew Bynum, Jordan is averaging 7.2 rebounds to Drew's 7.4. He's also scoring 6.8 points compared to Drew's 10.7, despite not being one of the primary offensive options on the Clippers.
No doubt the Lakers pick up a steal in this trade with Jordan, being able to put in quality minutes to back up Drew, and to step in as a starter the next time Bynum goes down with a season-ending injury.
Now can you imagine this lineup? Baron Davis at point guard, Kobe Bryant at shooting guard, Ron Artest at small forward, Blake Griffin at power forward and Andrew Bynum at center. Don't try to tell me this wouldn't be an upgrade to our current starting five!
Who would win a hypothetical NBA Finals?
Now things get even more interesting if my proposed LeBron James for Kobe and Bynum trade goes through.
Imagine this: Baron Davis at the 1, Lamar Odom at the 2, LeBron James at the 3, Ron Artest at the 4 and Blake Griffin at the 5. That would be even more ridiculous!
LeBron James and Blake Griffin on the same team? That's a dream inside-outside combination that even the Miami Heat couldn't imagine in their wildest fantasies! And no doubt, Pat Reilly would trade Chris Bosh for Griffin any day of the week.
Now, the Lakers can also adjust their lineups depending on their opponent. When we need more size, we can always bring in Odom off the bench, slide everyone down one position and start DeAndre Jordan at center. There isn't a team in the NBA that could match up with us!
The Miami Heat? With Carlos Arroyo, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Chris Bosh and Andrew Bynum, they would be our biggest rival. That lineup alone would guarantee an Eastern Conference championship over the Boston Celtics.
But against us? We have the advantage. Davis is a better all-around player than Arroyo, Odom would get scored on at will by Wade but we could start Matt Barnes in this matchup to contain him, and LeBron and Kobe on paper is a wash but LeBron's youth would give him the advantage.
Artest will limit Bosh's effectiveness while popping threes in his face and getting into his head, and Griffin would dominate Drew if Bynum can even stay healthy until the playoffs.
It would be quite even and home court advantage in the Finals would be a big factor, but I think we'll end up with the title, given that we have Phil Jackson in our corner and they have an unproven coach in Erik Spoelstra. When you consider our bench, I think the tide is clearly in our favor.
But when you look at the big picture, the disparity is even greater. LeBron is 26 with another 10 years playing at an elite level. Kobe is 32 and with his injuries racking up and the arthritic finger on his shooting hand, Kobe will be lucky to still be in the league in four years. Ditto for Fisher, who is already way out of his depth when matched up against nearly every single point guard starter in the NBA.
Drew is just 23, but being injury-prone with his numbers still very average, Blake Griffin far outshines him. When factoring picking up Jordan, who is 22, healthy and developing a well-rounded game, the trade make even more sense.
As to which of the trades would be better if the Lakers could choose just one, that is a tough call.
LeBron for Kobe and Bynum, or Griffin and Davis for Gasol and Fisher?
If we had to choose, I would say make the Blake Griffin trade and keep Kobe and Bynum.
Even though Kobe has just a few more years left, so does Pau and I think Kobe is far more important than Gasol. Also, Blake Griffin is five years younger than LeBron James and with far more upside while LeBron is near the max of his potential.
What's more, with the Griffin trade, we get an upgrade in the point guard position in Davis while keeping Drew, instead of losing Drew and keeping Fisher, who has been our Achilles' heel for the entire season.
Remember Lakers Nation, we're LAKER FANS, not necessarily Gasol fans. As much as I loved Gasol for what he's brought us over the past three years, one player does not a team make.
And once he's with the Clippers, all bets are off, just like Norm Nixon three decades ago.