Time is running out for the L.A. Clippers and their 'Big 3'

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On the face of things, the Los Angeles Clippers have one of the best rosters - certainly starting fives - in the entire NBA.

And yet, in the six years they have possessed the 'Big 3' of Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, they haven't made it past the Western Conference semi-finals in the playoffs.

It could be argued that is a gross underachievement. They've also been equipped with three-time Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford, so can it really be a question of depth?

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JJ Redick, Austin Rivers and Paul Pierce provide more complimentary pieces to the puzzle and with Doc Rivers as coach - who quite famously handled another 'Big 3' pretty well back in 2008 - surely all  the right elements are there?

Well, clearly not. Mind you, every franchise has to deal with a season where injuries curtail their hopes and the Clippers could viably use that excuse last term.

Griffin only managed 35 games to severely weaken their frontcourt prowess and Chris Paul went down with a broken hand in the midst of their first-round playoff battle with the Portland Trail Blazers.

One has to wonder what the All-NBA First Team center and All-Defensive First Teamer Jordan thinks about all of this.

Chris Paul convinced the 6'11" pivot to keep the band together last summer when the 28-year-old had all but decided he wanted a fresh start.

Born in Houston, Texas, Jordan decided he wanted to head to his home state and sign with the Dallas Mavericks, only to renege on his word after serious probing from the superstar teammates he had claimed to want to leave behind.

Jordan re-signed with the Clippers on a four-year, $88 million contract, but after six years of evidence that their current dynamic doesn't work, how long will the Clippers hierarchy persist with a tame postseason team?

Just three days after their elimination at the hands of Portland in May, Rivers insisted that the Clippers wouldn't be undertaking a radical overhaul.

"I like our core and I like our bench, which was really good this year," the Clippers' coach said.

"I think they all want to come back, and we're going to make a strong effort to bring all our guys back. The good news about the free-agent guys who are opting out on their contracts -- as they should, because everyone knows what we can spend and what we can't spend - I can't find one who doesn't want to be here."

It's hardly surprising that they would want to stay on a team that resides in the attractive city of Los Angeles that has won north of 50 games for the past four years.

That doesn't mean they are the correct fit, though.

CP3 is one of the best dime-droppers in the NBA and recorded 10 a game during the 2015-16 campaign. At 31-years-old, he has plenty of years left as a top-tier floor general.

Jordan finished second in the league for rebounds last season with 13.8 a night and was selected to the All-NBA First Team. The big man is in his prime right now and he is a double-double presence who also doubled his career average in assists last season.

Then there is Griffin. The Oklahoma-native could arguably be deemed the most talented of the bunch. Picked number one in 2009 draft, he exhibited extraordinary averages of 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds during his rookie campaign, but the last two years have fallen way below his career bests.

His rebounding has fallen to a high of 8.5 and his blocks are below even one a game. He produced 21.4 points a night last season - below his rookie campaign - and his season was blighted by injuries and off the court controversies where he punched a team official.

The original question remains, how long can the Clippers persist with their current formula and expect different results? Perhaps one more season with a healthy unit is on order after Griffin's extended absences last season, but the point of reckoning must be on the horizon, no matter how good the individual parts they possess may be.

Chris Paul
L.A. Clippers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Paul Pierce
Jamal Crawford
Blake Griffin
DeAndre Jordan

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