Blake Griffin Out 3-6 Weeks After Knee Surgery

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LOS ANGELES, USA - DECEMBER 12: Blake Griffin (32) of LA Clippers is seen during NBA between Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, USA on December 12, 2016. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin will undergo what has been described as a “routine arthroscopic procedure” today to remove loose bodies from his right knee.

The five-time NBA All-Star is expected to sit out three to six weeks as he recovers.

Blake Griffin Out 3-6 Weeks After Knee Surgery

Groundhog Day for the Clippers

For the Clippers franchise, this announcement is a real-life Groundhog Day. Griffin has spent portions of the last two seasons off the court due to injuries. He was limited to 35 regular-season games in 2015-16 because of a torn left quad and broken right hand. The quad injury was aggravated in the playoffs, causing Griffin to make an early exit during Game 4 of the Clippers’ first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers. He went on to miss Games 5 and 6. The Clippers lost the series to the Blazers, 4-2.

Griffin was also notably absent for a stretch during the 2014-15 season, sidelined for 15 games due to surgery on his elbow for a staph infection.

This season, Griffin has played exceptionally well, averaging 21.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game, in 26 contests. The team itself, however, has been inconsistent. Despite exceptional talent and a deep bench, the Clippers have gone 6-6 in their last 12 games. They’ve lost what should have been some easy match-ups against less talented Eastern Conference teams, and they took a beating from the Golden State Warriors.

What this Means for the Franchise

If history is any indication, the Clippers will do just fine without Griffin for a few weeks. During his absences in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, other players stepped up to fill the void. During the stretch of more than three months that Griffin missed last season, for example, Chris Paul averaged 21 points, 10.5 assists, and 4.7 rebounds; J.J. Redick averaged 17.3 points; and DeAndre Jordan averaged 14.2 points and 14.4 rebounds per game. Additionally, the Clippers were sixth in offensive rating and fifth in defensive rating over that period. There is really no need for Clippers fans to worry. In the words of Kendrick Lamar, “we gon’ be alright.”

In the upcoming weeks, the Clippers should look to Marreese Speights and Paul Pierce to play significant roles, particularly with DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul on the floor. The three-point threat created by Speights and Pierce will help spread the court, giving the wildly successful Paul-Jordan pick-and-roll even more room to operate. Austin Rivers should also contribute a lot during this stretch. Rivers, one of the more underrated Clippers, has heart, hustle, and the ability to get to the rim. I anticipate that he will have more than a few big games in Griffin’s absence, whether starting or coming off the bench.

Talk of a Griffin Trade Heats Up Again

Of course, with this latest setback, chatter about trading Griffin is heating up… again.

The Clippers’ inability to get far in the playoffs over the last few years has caused many an NBA pundit to call for a break-up of the “big three” of Griffin, Paul, and Jordan. Many, including former Indiana Pacers star Jalen Rose, feel strongly that the Clippers would be better off without Griffin.

With Paul, Griffin, and Redick becoming free agents after this season, and Jordan following next year, perhaps a trade is worth some serious consideration. Griffin’s injuries are certainly cause for concern, and the Clippers’ demonstrated ability to win without him suggests that he might not be a necessary piece to their puzzle. Trading Paul or Jordan is not an option; they are simply too fundamental to the franchise’s functioning and leadership.

Personally, I wouldn’t trade Griffin. Not just yet. It is still early in the season, and despite recent lackluster performances, the Clippers are still in the running for the title this year. They have the talent and ability – just look at how they handled the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers a couple of weeks ago. As long as the Clippers are fully healthy and clicking by postseason, they still have a good chance of going all the way, or at least upsetting some of the more favored Western Conference teams trying to do so.

 

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