Former NBA GM Says Luke Walton Is Phil’s ‘Number One Guy’

Once Blake Griffin (hand) is healthy enough to play basketball again, he won’t be able to – not for four games, anyway.

The Clippers have suspended their star power forward for four games without pay for Griffin’s assault of a team staff member in January. Griffin will be docked $859,442 of his annual $18,907,725 salary.

Given that the Clippers are 18-5 without Griffin, though, you have to wonder if they’ll try to trade the five-time All-Star sooner rather than later.

“Well, I think right now they got to restore his value and build that back up,” former NBA general manager Bobby Marks said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He’ll be back sometime in mid-March and it’ll be almost like getting a player in a trade without giving up an asset in return. I think right now now it depends on where this Clippers team goes in the offseason.

“We’re probably looking at a second-round exit again because I don’t see them getting past Golden State or San Antonio or even Oklahoma City. So I think this is a story we’re going to watch. He’s got a high value. He’s only 26, he’s on a pretty good contract, he still has a couple years left – so the value is there right now. But as you guys know, this Clipper team is built for now and they’re not in rebuild mode. Even as well as they’ve played, him and Carmelo are going to be stories to watch this summer.”

Carmelo Anthony is averaging 21.4 points – his lowest since 2004-05 – for the Knicks (23-32), who have lost six straight and 10 of 11 following their 22-22 start.

“I think the bloom has worn off there,” Marks said. “I really do. I’ve gone to 15, 20 games this year, and I see how people react. He is not the No. 1 child anymore there. I think when you go into the summer, the Knicks are going to take the temperature around the league to see what kind of value there is for him.

The Knicks also have to decide on a head coach. Derek Fisher was fired Monday and replaced by interim head coach Kurt Rambis.

To whom will Phil Jackson turn this offseason?

“I think he goes in-house and I think he takes somebody from his tree,” Marks said. “I’m sure Luke (Walton) is his No. 1 guy. I would be surprised if it’s a guy like Tom Thibodeau from a different mantra. I think Luke is the No. 1 target. It’ll be interesting how they finish the rest of the season.”

 

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