The Clippers will have Blake Griffin around until 2018, as he signed a five-year, $95 million contract extension. Photo by Jason Lewis
Steve Nash gives the Lakers the best point guard that they have had in years. It gets them closer to being a real contender, but another trade may be in order. Photo by Jeff Lewis
The Lakers do what they normally do, add players to help them win a championship, while the Clippers do something uncharacteristic of themselves. They actually paid one of their star players like he is a star player.
All-Star power forward Blake Griffin’s five year, $95 million contract extension shows that the Clippers are finally willing to pay to play. A running joke was that the Clippers were just grooming Griffin for some other team that wants to compete for a title, and many people said that team would be the Lakers. But with this new contract, Griffin will be with the Clippers until the 2018 season.
This trade could also influence All-Star point guard Chris Paul to stay with the team. The Clippers offered him a three-year, $60 million contract extension this summer, but Paul turned it down. It does not appear that Paul is looking to bolt from the Clippers as soon as he can, but by waiting until next summer he will be eligible for a five-year, $108 million contract extension from the Clippers. So it appears to be more of a financial decision than a basketball decision from Paul, and it does appear that the Clippers are willing to invest in him long term.
As for the Lakers, they are not thinking long term at this point. Kobe Bryant may have a couple years left as a super star that can lead his team to a championship, so trading for All-Star point guard Steve Nash may be the quick fix that the Lakers need.
The Lakers needed to get younger and better, especially at point guard. Well they are now drastically better with Nash, even though they went the opposite direction in terms of age.
This one move makes the Lakers more of a contender, but it does not make them a front-runner in anyway, and there are question marks with this new roster, because Bryant is used to dominating the ball, and he has never played with a point guard that truly runs the offense.
For this to work Bryant may be the one who needs to change his game the most, and if he does, he will not have to create his own shot as much now that he has a point guard that can get him the ball in certain spots.
Nash is a liability on the defensive end of the court, but so was Derek Fisher, and the younger and more athletic Ramon Sessions did not give the Lakers much defensively either. So the Lakers are really in the same spot as before, but they are much better on the offensive end of the court.
But another trade or two could improve the Lakers roster even more. The twin tower tandem of center Andrew Bynum and power forward Pau Gasol has not worked. As Bynum has become more of a prominent player in the Lakers offense, Gasol has been pushed away from the basket, where he is not as effective. And the Lakers have been worse because of it.
The hot trade rumor that would send Bynum to Orlando for Dwight Howard would improve the Lakers at center, but it would not solve the problem of having Gasol too far away from the basket. And seeing that Howard has stated that he would not sign a contract extension with the Lakers, that deal may not get off the ground. Bynum has also said that he will not sign a contract extension with anybody, and he wants to test the free agent market, which nearly destroys the option of trading him.
Bynum has been more of a headache than a productive player, but the Lakers are more than likely stuck with him for this year. So they might as well trade Gasol to fill the holes in their roster. They could still use an outside shooter and a stronger bench.
One question floating around is which team is better, the Lakers or the Clippers? At this point that is a tough question to answer.