Unfortunately for the Clippers, the lack of a proven center may come back to haunt them this postseason.
A Clippers frontcourt of Garnett and Blake Griffin would have been absolutely devastating and could have given the team the boost that it needs to knock off the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. With all due respect to DeAndre Jordan, Garnett is simply better on both ends of the court, even at 36 years of age.
Jordan's limitations on offense are compounded by the fact that his terrible free-throw shooting (42.9 percent on the season) makes him a liability during crunch time. According to HoopData, Jordan averages just four-and-a-half minutes of playing time in the fourth quarter of Clippers games this year.
While getting swept in the Western Conference Semifinals last season, the tandem of Griffin and Jordan were outrebounded by the combination of Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw. Garnett, meanwhile, if ranks No.15 in the league in defensive rebound rate (24.9 percent).
Jordan has made a name for himself thanks to his prowess at blocking shots, but the 6'11" Garnett is a better overall defender. Garnett's defensive rating this season is 98.4 (ninth in the league), and he has made the NBA's All-Defensive team in 12 of the past 13 seasons.
Oddly enough, the Clippers are a better defensive team when Jordan is off of the court.
According to 82games.com, L.A. gives up 8.1 fewer points per 100 possessions when Jordan is on the bench. By comparison, the Celtics allow 9.6 more points per 100 possessions when Garnett isn't in the game.
If the numbers are any indication, the Clippers should have been more aggressive with the Celtics in order to get a trade pushed through. As a guest on WEEI's "Mut and Merloni", Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports suggested that if the Celtics truly wanted to deal Garnett, they could have just traded Paul Pierce first.
With Pierce gone and Rondo injured, it's highly unlikely that Garnett would have wanted to serve as the anchor of a rebuilding project. And given the Clippers' interest, as well as Garnett's residence in Malibu, Calif., the "Big Ticket" may have chosen to punch a ticket to finish his career out West.
Instead, the Clippers are in pretty much the same position that they were a year ago. They're still roughly a notch below the power teams out West (as evidenced by their 26-point home loss to the Spurs on Feb. 21) and perhaps two notches below the Miami Heat.
The allure of "Lob City" can only last for so long: At some point, the Clippers will need to prove on the court that they're truly the best team in Los Angeles.