So long Lob City
Has anybody checked on Clippers fans lately? Do we know if they’re doing all right? Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just ceased to exist altogether, either from jumping ship to the Lakers, quitting basketball altogether or spontaneously combusting from all the rage of decades of pent-up misery. Last week, the Clippers traded superstar forward Blake Griffin, the most important figure in their franchise’s history, to the Detroit Pistons. This after they signed Griffin to a mammoth five-year, $173-million extension this summer in a move that many thought would ensure he would be a Los Angeles lifer. At the time, many pundits rightly panned the Clippers for making such an exorbitant offer, given Griffin’s age (the contract will take him through his age-33 season), poor outside shooting ability and rapidly declining athleticism. Though still one of the league’s premier individual talents, he seemed like a player come along ten years too late, unable to adapt to the league’s new three-point-heavy style. What a pleasant surprise then that Griffin actually managed to make some marked improvements to his game this season, hitting nearly two three-pointers per game (an improvement over his previous career high of .6) and bumping his free throw shooting to just shy of 80 percent. Lack of highlight dunks aside, he actually looked like a player that could be the foundational piece of a competitive team in two or three years, given some promising young guys and a key free agent signing or two. Instead, the struggling Clips decided to blow things up and shipped the face of the organization to Detroit for peanuts, opting to rebuild rather than compete in a stacked Western conference. They got a decent young player in Tobias Harris and two more in Avery Bradley and Boban Marjanovic that they will hope to flip for picks, but the move still feels a long way from a sure thing. It could be the start of another long era in basketball purgatory — too talented for the lottery, not good enough to compete — for the Clippers. As for the Pistons, I like the move because they already were mired in purgatory. They gave up some depth, and I don’t think anyone believes that Griffin will move them into the East’s top tier with Boston, Cleveland and Toronto. But a Griffin – Andre Drummond high-low combo is intriguing, and if this team puts an end to its recent slide, they could be a hell of an imposing first-round matchup.
Don’t cry over spilled milk
Never has that cliché been more accurate then when describing the Kansas City Chiefs’ trade of Alex Smith. Is there a human alive more akin to milk than Smith? Like a tall glass of two percent, he’s a dependable option that can definitely be valuable in the right situation. Need to manage the clock? Dunk an Oreo? He’s your man. But when you’re going all-out and hosting a nice dinner party or competing for a Super Bowl, you don’t bring out milk. To all the Chiefs fans who have expressed consternation about this trade to me over the past week, please look at the bigger picture. Now you have the opportunity to bring out champagne.
Let’s hear it for the champs
Wow, what a game! I mean, it was never in doubt even after they went down big, but good ol’ Tom and Bill never fail to put on a show, do they? Again, I ain’t even worried about jinxing the team by calling my shot — black magic has got nothing on the power of God. Side note, did you know that the Lombardi Trophy was hand-crafted this year in the small town of Cumberland, RI, which also happens to be fifteen minutes from Gillette Stadium and is the humble abode of the Bleacher Creature himself? You can’t make this shit up.