On Monday, it was reported that the Los Angeles Clippers had presented a trade package to the Denver Nuggets where Blake Griffin and Lance Stephenson would be heading to the Mile High City in exchange for Will Barton, Nikola Jokic, Kenneth Faried, and Danilo Gallinari. The four-for-two deal was reportedly shot down by the Nuggets … and with good reason.
While a name like Griffin might sell a few more tickets in Denver, it also invites the likelihood of drama, not only with a new “superstar player” (at least in the national media’s eyes) trying to blend in with a team that has completely different chemistry but also with the fact that Griffin in Denver probably wouldn’t relish being on a team fighting for a playoff spot. Compare it to the Jose Reyes acquisition by the Nuggets’ downtown neighbors, the Colorado Rockies. When Reyes came to Denver in the deal that sent Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto, Reyes quickly made it be known that he wasn’t happy and didn’t want to be on a losing team.
Granted, the likelihood of the Nuggets competing for a playoff spot in the near future is more probable than the Rockies leapfrogging their National League West rivals from the basement. However, it might take some time … and Griffin is already on a team that, year in and year out, makes the playoffs. Would he be patient or start whispers that he wanted to move on to a more dominant franchise? It’s a hypothetical question worth asking.
Additionally, there are the sudden character issues with not only Griffin (suspended after sustaining a hand injury in an altercation with another Clippers employee) but also Stephenson, who has a reputation for stirring the waters. His own former Indiana Pacers teammates reportedly didn’t even want him back on the team when a potential trade with the Charlotte Hornets was rumored in late 2014. Plus, remember Griffin jawing with Denver head coach Michael Malone earlier this season?
Of course, there’s the Denver side of this as well, and trading away four of your top six scorers that represent 56.7 of your 100.5 points per game is ludicrous. Additionally, Jokic and Barton are considered two of the core building blocks for Denver’s future.
Overall, this potential deal smells of a bad fantasy trade where one owner thinks the other is so desperate that he’ll do anything to get a “name” player. Thankfully, Denver management didn’t bite.
Denver has worked itself into a team trending in the right direction under Malone’s leadership. This potential deal would’ve done nothing but sell a few more tickets and push the franchise back.