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.
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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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June 28, 2017 | 9:23 pm EDT Update
Ramona Shelburne: There was still strong internal debate on whether the team should pay $45 million in the final year of a deal to a 37-year-old player. Big Detail: The Clippers had not yet committed to give Chris Paul the full five-year max contract of $201 million.
The New York Knicks’ focus over the next few weeks will be on free agency, and not on a replacement for departed team president Phil Jackson, league sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. General manager Steve Mills was leading the front office in talks with other teams on Wednesday, sources said.
Any discussion with Ujiri — who is facing a potential rebuild of his own should the Raptors lose free agents Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, PJ Tucker and Patrick Patterson — would first require permission and then steep compensation (such as draft picks), which league sources said was unlikely for the Knicks, given their current roster construction.