Status of Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford among Clippers' biggest issues

The Clippers resume the season Thursday with the status of Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford up in the air.

The Clippers entered the hours before the NBA trading deadline shrouded in uncertainty about an All-Star forward who isn't going anywhere and a star sixth man who might have played his last game with the team.

Blake Griffin said Wednesday his right elbow was healing better than expected after surgery to remove a staph infection but he did not have a timetable for a return. He has missed the last three games.

Meanwhile, super sub Jamal Crawford acknowledged feeling emotional about the possibility of being sent to another team before the noon PST Thursday trading deadline.

"I'm human," Crawford said. "I'm human."

Crawford would likely be the centerpiece of any Clippers trade to upgrade their wing positions because the team has few other coveted assets. The Clippers already traded their first-round picks in 2015 and 2017 and are barred from trading their 2016 or 2018 picks because of NBA rules prohibiting teams from dealing picks from consecutive years.

Clippers trade targets are believed to include Denver shooting guard Arron Afflalo and small forward Wilson Chandler, but the Nuggets would want a first-round draft pick in exchange for either player. That means the Clippers would need to first trade Crawford to another team for a draft pick in order to acquire Afflalo or Chandler.

Afflalo, 29, and Chandler, 27, are considerably younger and better defenders than Crawford, 34, but neither player is as prolific a scorer as Crawford. The Clippers would also have to evaluate the potential fit of a new acquisition in their locker room as well as their lineup.

Crawford is a wildly popular teammate who is considered a positive presence in the locker room.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, who is also the team's president of basketball operations, reiterated that he liked his roster but said he would evaluate potential trades in the hours before Thursday's deadline.

"I don't see that happening," Rivers said of a trade, "but it could."

Crawford, who is in the running to win an unprecedented third sixth man of the year award, tweeted Tuesday that he "learned early in life, one person's trash is another person's treasure."

Was Crawford referring to the Clippers' potential willingness to trade him?

"The good thing about Twitter [is] I'm the king of subliminal," said Crawford, who is averaging 16.0 points per game this season but shooting only 39.1%, his worst percentage since the 2003-04 season. "Some of them are basketball related, some of them aren't. You guys have to figure it out."

There was also some guesswork involved when it came to assessing Griffin's return to the court after his surgery on Feb. 9. Griffin said he had not resumed conditioning because he was not allowed to sweat.

Griffin also was wearing a less bulky dressing on his elbow than he had before Tuesday, when he was forced to keep it locked in one position.

Griffin has not had his elbow drained since the first 24 hours after his surgery, a sign that the infection has been eradicated. He is scheduled to have his stitches removed Tuesday.

He said he first noticed something might be wrong when his elbow bothered him Feb. 4, the day before the Clippers played Cleveland. It only worsened afterward.

"After the game in Cleveland, I couldn't extend my arm without pain," Griffin said. "I didn't think I was going to be able to play in Toronto."

Griffin scored 26 points against the Raptors but went to a hospital the next day because of odd swelling in his elbow. It was there that doctors diagnosed the staph infection.

CLIPPERS VS. SAN ANTONIO

When: 7:30 p.m. PST, Thursday.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: TNT; Radio: 980, 1330.

Records: Spurs 34-19, Clippers 35-19.

Record vs. Spurs: 1-2.

Update: San Antonio will be playing the fourth game of a nine-game trip that spans nearly a month because it includes the weeklong All-Star break. The Clippers beat the Spurs, 105-85, on Jan. 31, San Antonio's worst home loss of the season.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
49°