Storyline: Blake Griffin Free Agency

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The Boston Celtics have had a tricky time nailing down a meeting with free agent Blake Griffin because of clashing priorities, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The source told MassLive.com Friday afternoon that Griffin is said to prefer exploring his options early in the free agency period. That has made things difficult with the Celtics, who have other priorities, like the pursuit of Gordon Hayward and potentially a trade for Paul George.

While Griffin is on the short list of the league’s most coveted free agents, with Phoenix, Miami, and Boston among the known suitors and a plan in place to start meeting teams in Los Angeles on Saturday, the Clippers executive vice president of basketball operations made it clear that keeping him is their top priority. “We wanted them both back,” Frank told USA TODAY Sports of Paul and Griffin in a visit on the NBA A to Z podcast on Thursday. “Chris decided to leave, so that doesn’t change (how they view Griffin). For Blake, Blake’s in a very, very unique situation in that Blake was the first pick of the Clippers (in 2009).

Free agent forwards Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap will meet with the Phoenix Suns after the NBA free agency moratorium period begins Saturday, reports John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. Gambadoro reports the 28-year-old Griffin will meet with Phoenix this weekend. An unrestricted free agent, Griffin could be more likely to find a new home after the Los Angeles Clippers dealt All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets this week.

Asked Sunday on “Pardon My Take” for his four favorite NBA cities, Griffin listed (in descending order): New York, Phoenix, Toronto, and Boston. The latter is easily the most intriguing, as the Celtics are rumored to covet the five-time All-Star and reportedly plan to pursue him in free agency. The 28-year-old big man didn’t elaborate on his Beantown pick, but when one of the podcast hosts referred to the city’s racist history, Griffin, who’s half black, replied: “Definitely half of me loves it.”

Celtics in on Blake Griffin?

On a podcast published Wednesday, Wojnarowski broke down the Clippers’ complicated situation, which includes the free agency of three starters, Griffin, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick. While doing so, the great reporter suggested the Celtics have a realistic chance to pry Griffin away. “Blake Griffin, and I think the Clippers may think this too, and certainly some other teams, Boston is really the danger for Blake Griffin,” Wojnarowski said. “I think Boston’s two primary free-agent targets right now are Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin. Now they’re not going to get both of them, but they’re both players who would potentially have interest there, and who Boston I think looks at in different ways with their future.

“So the one thing to know about Blake Griffin, he was (in Boston) when Paul Pierce came in with the Clippers for his last game in Boston, Blake was obviously there with the team. He saw how Boston reacted to Paul Pierce and what it means to have been a great player in Boston. Now, Blake doesn’t have enough left in his career to be beloved and be the all-time Celtic that Paul Pierce was, but it does give you a sense – and I know it gave Blake a sense, it did not go unnoticed with him – about how that building and that city and the way they loved Paul. And I’m sure Paul being around the last couple years with him, I’m sure they discussed it.

At least one NBA veteran sees the Miami Heat as a potential Plan B in free agency when it comes to Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin. The question therefore could become whether Pat Riley again allows his team to be put on hold, as was the case last summer with the failed pursuit of Kevin Durant, who instead can be found in this week’s NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors. Although he ultimately expects his former teammate to sign back with the Clippers, Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley said if Griffin does decide to head elsewhere that the Heat could be the best alternative. “Miami,” Dudley said on an ESPN podcast, “is the only case scenario to be able to do if you say, ‘Hey, you know what, I want to be the man of the team.’ “
3 months ago via ESPN

Griffin’s return is less certain, sources say. This summer is his first foray into unrestricted free agency. Given his snakebitten tenure with the team and the possibility of another early exit, the prospect of exploring what’s out there will be alluring. One premise volunteered in good humor suggests that Paul is more likely to take a slew of meetings in a public process but ultimately re-sign with the Clippers, while Griffin is more likely to mull the decision privately under the guise of night, but announce he’ll be playing elsewhere in 2017-18.
3 months ago via ESPN

THE CLIPPERS FACE A RECKONING this summer when Paul, Griffin and Redick enter free agency. Ballmer says the Clippers don’t have any interest at present of blowing it up. “I love those guys, and I want those guys back,” Ballmer says, adding that he’s amenable to swallowing a large luxury-tax bill, which would come due with new contracts for his players. “If we’re in it and we’re playing for a championship, I don’t mind the tax,” Ballmer says.

Griffin is out for the playoffs with a toe injury. “Griffin is still a significant part of the Clippers’ future. Management remains committed to signing him to a long-term deal this summer, league sources tell me,” said Adrian Wojnarowski in a video essay. “In a lot of ways, Griffin has been most loyal to the Clippers’ brand. He has never had wanderlust, never floated ideas about leaving town. Truth be told, he’s accommodated Paul in every way. Broadened his own game, grown as a leader and taken a lot of unfair finger pointing and blame once the All-Star point guard became the face of the franchise.”

The 31-year-old Paul and the 28-year-old Griffin will be seeking maximum-salary contracts, deals that would respectively start at approximately $35 million and $30 million annually. Redick, the 32-year-old who was recruited by Rivers not long after he arrived from the Boston Celtics in the summer of 2013, is sure to land a massive payday as well. Working projections peg the total at approximately $196 million in all, with $140 million in salaries and $56 million in luxury tax (and Redick, in that scenario, having a starting salary of approximately $18 million).

You guys have done a great job of not letting free agency become a distraction. With some teams, having one star approaching free agency can lead to a circus. This team has two, with you and Chris Paul both free agents this summer. With that said, it hasn’t seemed to be an issue or distraction. How have you maintained that? Blake Griffin: Honestly, our focus has just been on the season. And I know everyone uses that go-to answer, but it’s true. I can’t worry about a decision that I can’t make right now. We still have so much basketball left to play. The playoffs are about to start and this literally what we spent all last summer, the preseason and the regular season preparing for. We were preparing for this. To be focused on something else would be a travesty to the rest of my team, to my coaching staff, to our fans, to everybody. Those decisions and whatever happens in the summer will be there in the summer.

Have other players tried to recruit you at all? Because while you’re focused on this season, I know that does happen sometimes where guys from other teams will reach out. Without naming names, has anything like that happened? Blake Griffin: No, I haven’t had any conversations like that at all. Early on, I told everybody around me – agents, friends and family – that this isn’t something I’m going to be talking about and we’ll deal with it when the time comes. I think player-wise, I think everybody respects that you have a team and you’re focused on the season and all that.

After his 36 points carried the Clippers on Saturday, Griffin would not say whether he hopes to stay with the Clippers. “I’ve loved my time here, absolutely,” Griffin said. “But my main focus right now is the season. I said this before the season, I’m not doing the whole free agency talk. I’m not talking about any decision I can’t make right now. Like I said my main focus is getting this team right and moving forward and being right heading into the playoffs.”

8 months ago via ESPN

The Thunder aren’t naive about this. Finding that second star will be hard, especially in a teensy market. There is no sign Blake Griffin wants to come home, per several sources. Extensions for Adams and Oladipo have Oklahoma City capped out this summer even if they slough off Kanter’s deal; depending on what happens with Roberson in free agency, they might have to cut money from next season’s payroll just to duck the luxury tax. It’s unclear if they’ll even have meaningful room in the summer of 2018.
9 months ago via ESPN

As the Clippers prepare to depart for Oklahoma City and try to avenge their lone loss of the season, Blake Griffin brushed aside notions that those close to him would be recruiting the star power forward to play for his hometown team after the season. “People that I talk to and my friends and family from back home, I think they’re … I would say true friends and family, where they know that my main focus is this season and this team,” Griffin said after the Clippers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 111-80 on Wednesday night. “And they know that I enjoy playing here and I love this team, coaching staff, everybody. So they know that that’s my main focus. So I think they pretty much know not to bring that up.”

Boston also expressed interest in Blake Griffin this summer, so it’s conceivable they’d have interest when he hits free agency. To be clear, those conversations were merely exploratory since the Clippers had no interest in retooling, per a league source. Gordon Hayward received interest from Boston in 2014 when he was a restricted free agent; Hayward and Brad Stevens also have unfinished business after experiencing a heartbreaking national championship loss at Butler. Beyond that, there is no star, max-level, unrestricted free agent available in 2017 that is both reasonably acquirable and enticing to the Celtics.

Blake Griffin tells SiriusXM NBA Radio free agency is not something he’s thinking about right now: “Honestly, nothing I even really think about. Haven’t had a conversation with anybody. That includes friends, family, agents, coaches, teammates… It’s not a conversation I have. I got a lot of basketball left to play this year. I got a full season, postseason… So that’s on the back on my mind. I’ll deal with that one when the appropriate time comes, but right now isn’t the time.”

Still, Rivers realizes those rumors could resurface in February if the Clippers aren’t faring well. No team wants to be put in Oklahoma City’s situation, in which it waits on a player to make a decision at the end of his contract only to be left with no compensation if he goes elsewhere. “Blake and CP are free agents and just like last year, Oklahoma had to deal with that — now it’s our turn,” Rivers said. “It’s been a sense of urgency since we’ve been there, in my opinion. And we haven’t followed through yet, and there’s another sense of urgency here. We’re not the only ones. Everyone has a sense of urgency.”

Jordan said there wasn’t any more urgency to win next season, simply because Paul and Griffin can both become unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2017. “They’re both extremely talented players,” Jordan told The Vertical. “I believe whatever decision they make is going to be a great decision. I’m not worried about it right now. I don’t expect it to be a distraction during the season. I can’t speak for them, but at the end of the day, they’ve got to make the best decision for themselves and their families. Whatever happens, happens.”

Thunder to pursue Blake Griffin?

Durant is deleted. Done and gone and no longer part of his world. “What’s next?” he asked – and the Thunder connected with Westbrook on a plan to construct their next act. Once, it was James Harden and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Now, it’s a superstar solo act – with an eye upon Los Angeles Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin in 2017 free agency. Griffin is an Oklahoma kid gone Hollywood, a star who has his own tensions with Chris Paul on the Clippers.

During an appearance on The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski, Rivers stressed he intends to keep Griffin in Los Angeles and believes the Clippers could take another step forward with their current core. “Danny and I have talked twice this summer,” said Rivers, who controls Los Angeles Clippers personnel decisions in addition to his duties as the team’s head coach. “One (conversation) was about the British Open, and one was about another golf tournament. That’s about it.”

The benefits of playing in a small market like Oklahoma City — less glitz and glamour, fewer media responsibilities, an organization that has proved to be protective of its stars — would be canceled out for Griffin. For him, Oklahoma City would be like New York on steroids. This factor must be considered, especially since Griffin has a player option for the 2017-18 season. “I’ve seen him there; it’s like Michael Jackson walking around,” the person close to Griffin said.
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