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On the NBA Beat Ep. 95: Jovan Buha: Griffin Will “Surpass Paul as Best & Most Important Clipper Ever”

ESPN.com’s Jovan Buha joins the podcast to analyze the Los Angeles Clippers’ tumultuous 2017 offseason, highlighted by the departure of Chris Paul and the re-signing of Blake Griffin. Developments from the last couple weeks have raised so many questions. Fortunately, Jovan can reliably provide compelling answers.

Enjoy these clips (pun intended; puns are always intended here):

4:14-5:03: “He [Paul] obviously wants to win a championship, wants to make the conference finals, get that monkey off his back, and I think for him, surveying the scene, I think Houston and San Antonio both had more upside. The Clippers, with their cap situation, were most likely going to lose J.J. Redick no matter what and still might end up losing Luc Mbah a Moute, who actually ended up being a bargain signing for them with the bi-annual exception. So I think just looking at it from that perspective, the Clippers were basically going to return the same team as last year minus their two starting wings. And if I’m Chris Paul and we just won 51 games and lost in the first round, that’s not very attractive to me.”

28:57-30:20: “I thought they added depth, they added versatility, they added some youth, and they added assets. At the worst, Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley can both be flipped easily if you want to flip those guys…In the macro sense, the Clippers lost the trade because they lost a top-10 player and they went from a fringe contender to a playoff hopeful.”

34:30-36:08: “I think keeping Blake made sense just because if the Clippers lost Blake and Chris, they were going to go back to irrelevance. They were not set up for a rebuild. This was not a Utah Jazz or Boston Celtics situation where those teams were able to…the Jazz dumped Deron Williams and rebuilt within three years. The Celtics dumped their Big Three and rebuilt within a couple years. The Clippers, if they lost Blake and Chris and then had to trade D.J. [DeAndre Jordan], this was going to be like a four- or five-year process at a minimum. They do not have any young assets, they don’t have a couple of their picks over the next few years…This was going to be an ugly process of just gutting the team, hoping to find some cheap, young talent and really hoping to draft well, which they have not done over the last few years…There’s more things about it than just the on-court product. The Clippers have now sold out – I forgot the exact number – 240-something games. They’ve sold out every game since before Chris even got there – I think since Blake’s rookie season they’ve sold out every home game. They just signed a new TV deal last year, they’re always on national TV, 20-plus times a year. This team has gone from complete irrelevance to being probably a top-10 team in terms of just relevance and being talked about on TV and just sort of a team that’s on everyone’s mind.”

50:13-51:34: “If everything goes right, if Blake and [Danilo] Gallinari can both play 70-plus games, I think this team has the talent and the versatility to be a 5 or 6 seed in the West, but it is a big risk…He [Gallinari] is not elite, but he’s good to very good, and I think it solves what the Clippers have needed from the 3 spot for the last six years. With that said, I think there’s injury concerns, I think there’s defensive concerns – I think Gallinari ideally is used as a stretch-4 and not as much of a 3.”

52:42-53:10: “If you’re going to be playing Pat Beverley and Austin Rivers – if that’s your starting backcourt – neither one of those guys is a great ball handler or playmaker or passer, so having a guy like Gallinari with Blake is really interesting to me because you’re going to be running a lot of your offense through your forwards and not your guards, which is unorthodox for the Clippers and just kind of unorthodox for the league right now – although I guess the team that is kind of most like that is the Warriors.”

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Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod