Trading Blake Griffin apparently wasn’t a signal from the Los Angeles Clippers that they’re prepping for a full-scale teardown. If it was, they would be nearing deals to send DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams to other teams in advance of Thursday’s trade deadline.
Not only is this not the case, as of now, but the Clippers just reinvested in the 31-year-old Williams, per Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania:
Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams has agreed to a three-year contract extension, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 7, 2018
And here’s some extra stuff from ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski that preceded the actual extension:
Extension discussions between guard Lou Williams and the LA Clippers have gathered significant momentum, and a new contract is within reach before Thursday afternoon’s NBA trade deadline, league sources told ESPN.
Rival teams were increasingly resigned late Tuesday night that Williams, 31, was exiting the trade market and returning to the Clippers on a multiyear contract, league sources said.
Williams’ career season of 23.3 points per game, the Clippers’ surprising team success and the stability of staying with an organization with which he has grown comfortable has pushed him toward the extension over chasing free agency this summer, league sources said.
Extending Williams is a calculated, if slightly puzzling, gamble by the Clippers. He rates as one of this season’s 10 most valuable offensive contributors, according to NBA Math, but said contract will take him through his 34th birthday if they keep him around.
Never mind the money. Committing that much time to someone on the wrong side of 30 is a bizarre play from a team that just traded a five-time All-Star. Perhaps the Clippers believe they’ll be able to move him for more value next season, when he’s no longer on an expiring contract. Or maybe they’re dead serious about avoiding a rebuild.
What they do leading into Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline will say a lot about how they view themselves. If they keep Jordan and Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris, in addition to Williams, they clearly have designs on remaining relevant. If they move any combination of the other three after extending Williams, well, then they’ll stay super weird—and utterly direction-less.