Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has insisted the franchise were never close to trading away Blake Griffin during the recent trade deadline, labeling some of the rumours that circulated around the time as "crazy" and "comical".
Rivers, who also serves as the Clippers' President of Basketball Operations, stated in a Q&A interview with Yahoo! Sports that the team gave short thrift to any calls they did receive about Griffin's availability last month, despite the perennial All-Star's disrupted season.
Griffin hasn't played since Christmas Day due to a quad injury, and he will also have to serve a four-game suspension when healthy after breaking his hand in an altercation with a Clippers staff member back in January.
Article continues below
"I love him. He’s a good player," explained Rivers when asked what kept him from trading Griffin.
"He was only having an MVP year before he got injured. I laugh at some of the stuff about moving him. I’ve said from Day One he is not going anywhere.
"Of course, every team should call. That’s their job. That doesn’t mean we have to listen and we didn’t.”
Griffin was indeed playing at a near career-high level before his injury in late December, averaging 23.2 points. 8.7 rebounds and five assists per game in his 30 starts in 2015-16.
The Clippers, though, have been performing well in the power forward's absence. They have won 22 of the 29 games sans Griffin, compared to going 17-13 with the star in the line-up.
Their performances, coupled with Griffin's off-court misdemeanour had led to speculation the Clippers would consider a blockbuster trade.
In reality, however, that never crossed their mind, according to Rivers:
"There was some (phone calls from other teams) but not a lot because we shot them down so quickly," said the former Celtics coach.
"Reading about some of these crazy rumors in the paper was comical to us."
“You can take the call, but you don’t have to listen. We like our team. We’re in the job of trying to make our team better, but we like our team.”
It is quite clear that Griffin remains an integral part of the Clippers' long-term plans and, with Rivers noting the player has begun running and is shooting the ball, it might not be too much longer before they can welcome him back to the rotation.
Having played virtually half the season restricted in how they can play - DeAndre Jordan offering their only option as a big - Griffin's return would open up new avenues for the Clippers at a crucial time in the season.
If he can return in the run-up to the playoffs, the Los Angeles franchise's hopes of contending with the Spurs and Warriors in the West will greatly improve.