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.
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If Boston can’t acquire Hayward, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin could be a substitute in this free-agency plan to sign a star and then trade for George, league sources told The Vertical.
Jay King: OMG GUYS
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.”
When asked jokingly whether only “half” of him likes Boston –– Griffin is 50 percent black –– he briefly touched on the city’s racial history. “Half of me loves it,” he said. “The other half is hit-and-miss. It depends on who I run into. It depends on what story I’m reading about people being heckled at a Red Sox game.”
Jay King: Don’t freak out, but, on @PardonMyTake, Blake Griffin put Boston on his Mt. Rushmore of NBA cities alongside Toronto, Phoenix and NY
Griffin can sign a five-year deal worth $175 million with L.A., or sign a four-year deal worth $130 million with another team. The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder are two teams that will make a bid for Griffin, according to several executives.
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.
That Griffin would also stay and reap the biggest payday he can seems likely, too—in theory. But more and more people around the league believe he would be open to a fresh start—perhaps with the Lakers or the Boston Celtics, who have coveted Griffin for years and would offer a new chance to win.
The Celtics have talked intermittently with the Clippers about Blake Griffin, per several league sources, but a deal is extremely unlikely. Griffin will be a free agent this summer, and Boston would probably need official permission to talk to him about his future — a concession Minnesota allowed Cleveland before the Kevin Love trade. The Clips would ask for a bounty, starting with Jae Crowder and one of the Avery Bradley/Marcus Smart duo, plus picks, per league sources.
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.
Scott Souza: Former #Celtics coach Doc Rivers denies there was ever anything to Blake Griffin-to-Boston rumors … Joked Boston media made them up.
The Thunder won’t be alone if Griffin hits the open market. The Boston Celtics have long had eyes for Griffin, and there has been talk that the Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls would also make a hard push at Griffin. Coincidentally, both teams have tradable assets now if the Clippers decide they want to consider a trade.
Head coach Doc Rivers hopes Blake Griffin spends his entire career with the Clippers. At this time of year, trade rumors tend to circulate. But when it comes to his star power forward, Rivers reiterated Thursday on Adrian Wojnarowski’s “The Vertical Podcast” none of the rumors are substantiated, and he plans on keeping Griffin. “It’s funny, you don’t want to go out and send a press release every time there’s a rumor about Blake,” Rivers said. “We are hoping that Blake ends his career playing for the Clippers, period. So, when teams call, we say we have no interest. First of all, no team’s calling right now, because teams know we don’t have any interest. It just tells you the different times. Things have changed. Everyone believes that they’re media now.”
Brian Robb: Doc Rivers addressing the Blake Griffin to Celtics rumors specifically on @WojVerticalNBA podcast: “Danny and I have talked twice this summer. One was about the British Open and the other was about another golf tournament. That’s about it.”
In terms of other players in which the Celts are rumored to have interest, there have still been no recent talks regarding Blake Griffin or Russell Westbrook.
Sources indicate the Celtics are very much open to major moves, but while situations certainly remain fluid and they have expressed interest in Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook in the past, there have been no discussions regarding those players in quite some time.
That does not necessarily rule out a trade of Westbrook to Boston. But it makes it unlikely, at least until that contact is made, that the Celtics are now targeting him. The team has viewed this as a crucial summer, so their activity is expected. The Celtics are stocked with young players, have a raft of future picks available and have already signed big man Al Horford in free agency, as they hope to push closer to the Raptors and Cavaliers in the East. The likely target for the Celtics, according to front-office sources, is Clippers forward Blake Griffin. The Clippers have been weighing trading Griffin all season, and the possibility of a three-team package involving Sacramento sending Rudy Gay to the Clippers has emerged. The Celtics would give up some number of their upcoming draft picks, but opposing front-office members say they don’t want to give up either Brooklyn pick Boston can own in the next two years.
The Clippers have 31-year-old point guard Chris Paul on hand, and league sources have said that if the Clippers move Griffin — a move that Clippers coach and front-office head Doc Rivers is reluctant to make — they will want a deal that involves draft picks and a frontline star who can keep them in Western Conference contention.
There should be no question by now that the Celts still believe they need to make changes to their roster before the season begins, and it has been confirmed that they are trying to accomplish this on multiple avenues — to no avail thus far. Sources indicate the Celtics are very much open to major moves, but, while situations certainly remain fluid and they have expressed interest in Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook in the past, there have been no discussions regarding those players in quite some time.
As the countdown to the trade deadline has dissolved from weeks and days to hours and minutes, the Celtics are still holding out hope that a star will fall from the NBA sky. While league sources indicated that, in the words of one, “nothing is really hot with Boston,” Danny Ainge and Co. are still said to be working to pry loose something major. In that vein, for example, Doc Rivers has said the Clippers aren’t trading Blake Griffin, but it’s a fair bet the Celtics will revisit the topic before the clock next strikes 3 p.m. EST Thursday.
It would take someone on Griffin’s level to get Ainge to part with the first-round pick from Brooklyn, but sources tell the Herald it would definitely be on the table in that case. That would not be so for some of the other very good, but not transcendent types that have also been discussed with the Celts.
A Western source confirmed the Celtics were one of a number of teams calling the Clippers to see if Blake Griffin is, indeed, on the menu. But the result of those inquiries has thus far been that, while the Clips are listening, they have no real intention of moving the star forward.
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If the team came to him with a trade, Gasol would accept it. “If they think it is best, I would do anything for this franchise,” Gasol says. Wallace and other higher-ups are adamant that is unlikely, even as the losses mount. That seems stubborn, and there is almost certainly a scenario — perhaps Conley getting reinjured, or taking longer than expected to return — where Memphis tests the market. But even in that doomsday sequence, the Grizzlies may even prefer to hold their stars out here and there in some selective tankery, nab a high draft pick, and reload for another run at 45-plus wins.
It is not bad enough for Gasol to ask out. It may never be. “I have a responsibility to this city,” Gasol says. “I’m not gonna quit, no matter what.” What if Memphis fell 30 games under .500? Gasol shakes his head. “I would want to see how we got there — what the process is,” Gasol says. “But as long as [owner] Robert [Pera] wants me here, my teammates want me here, they think I’m part of the solution — and not part of the problem — that’s all I need.” (Gasol still denies he asked for Fizdale to be fired, though the tension between them was real, sources say.)
Stefan Bondy: Knicks have to do something about their center situation by the deadline. They have four centers taking up roughly 40 percent of the cap space. In the last two games Hornacek had them all on the bench in the fourth quarter because, like the rest of the NBA, he went small.
There’s also the possibility Los Angeles moves him before the trade deadline to a team that’s looking to make a playoff push, but that feels unlikely for a few reasons. To start, whichever team traded for Caldwell-Pope would only receive his non-Bird Rights. Long story short, that means they’d likely need cap space to re-sign him over the summer, as the exception only allows four year deals up to 120 percent of the previous season’s salary with a five percent annual increase. Crazier things have happened, but it’s highly unlikely Caldwell-Pope’s market value won’t be higher, strengthening the likelihood of him being a mid-season rental more than a long-term investment. He also has a 15 percent trade kicker.
Caldwell-Pope is now on the Los Angeles Lakers, where he signed a one-year, $17.7 million deal. It feels like an uncomfortable stasis for a player in his fifth season, enduring his second contract year in a row. But the 24-year-old has yet to test the shortcomings of his game for the sake of his own individual growth or production, at the cost of his team’s success. Instead, he’s solely focused on finding ways to move L.A.’s needle in a positive way. His teammates respect that, understand how important he is, and recognize the partnership could end sooner than anyone wants it to. “If I put myself in his shoes, it’d just be tough to embrace everybody and kind of get into the whole team aspect knowing that next summer is another free agent year,” Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. told VICE Sports. “But he’s done a terrific job of being selfless and looking out for others.”
“When we made this deal, me and my agent, we discussed it multiple times,” Caldwell-Pope told VICE Sports. “We knew the risk we were taking. Nine times out of 10 I’d like to bet on myself. That’s what we did. It’s a one-year deal, and so far this season it’s been going well.” This is far from basketball purgatory, but it’s also not an obvious home. Caldwell-Pope doesn’t have a lot of time to fit in; for reasons we’ll get into later on, it’s more likely than not he’ll be in a different city next season. “There’s no benefit [to a one-year deal]. I’m up again next year,” he said. “I could be here, or be wherever I land.”
Adam Zagoria: I’m told by a source close to the situation that reports that Michael Porter Jr. could return in 4 weeks for Mizzou are inaccurate. No timetable on a return, but he is going through the rehab process. pic.twitter.com/R8vh43hZWr