Despite losing back-to-back games, the Los Angeles Clippers can be happy with the way they have started the 2017-18 season. They look like a side that could really challenge near the top of the Western Conference.
It's strange that they've been able to produce this season with just Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, unlike last season when they had their big three of Chris Paul alongside Griffin and Jordan.
Due to the fact the trio was never able to reach the Western Conference Finals, they were broken up, with Paul being traded away to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Lou Williams, Kyle Wiltjer, a future first-round pick, and cash considerations.
With the team signing Griffin to a new long-term deal during the offseason as well, it started a new era at the Clippers, but this era could have started a lot sooner than this. It could have started at last season's trade deadline if reports are to be believed.
According to ESPN's Zach Lowe, the team thought about breaking up their core as early as last season's trade deadline, with interest from the Rockets for one of their players. Not for Paul, but for Jordan.
Lowe stated in his report that Houston proposed a trade to Los Angeles for Jordan with a package that was headlined by center Clint Capela. It also included unspecified "picks and players." It certainly is surprising to see the Clippers consider trading Jordan over Paul or Griffin.
You can, however, see why there was a little bit of interest surrounding a trade, as Capela plays a similar role as Jordan at a fraction of the price, making $2.3 million this season, while the Clippers star makes $22.6 million. The center is from Houston too.
In the end, though, it was Paul that left the Clippers, and Jordan stayed put. Whether or not the team made the right decision can't be determined yet, but so far this season, the Clippers are playing like a team that could be a force in the Western Conference this season.