Free agent forwards Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap will…

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.

More on Blake Griffin Free Agency

Complicating the matter however, sources told ESPN's Michael Eaves, is that Griffin may not be ready for the start of the next season and could possibly be out until December due to a toe injury that cut short his postseason. A separate source told Shelburne the team believes Griffin's toe will be healed and he'll likely be ready for the start of the season.
Ramona Shelburne: And yes, this does mean Clippers are focused on retaining Blake Griffin in free agency, per league sources.
Jeff Goodman: Clippers like the upside of Sam Dekker, the toughness of Patrick Beverly and the short-term contracts of both Beverly and Lou Williams. Source said Clippers will go after a big wing in free agency, and try and retain Blake Griffin.
Jerry West says his new role with the L.A. Clippers DOES NOT require him to get involved in the efforts to resign Blake Griffin and Chris Paul ... telling TMZ Sports, "It's not my responsibility." West was playing coy when we saw him leaving Caffe Roma in Bev Hills on Tuesday -- saying it's up to other key members of the organization to bring in the players ... "I'm just an adviser."
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.
Griffin, 28, is a cornerstone player for the Clippers, a priority for them to re-sign this summer. Boston, Houston and Miami are among multiple possible free-agent destinations for Griffin, who’ll also consider returning to the Clippers.
Bobby Marks: Blake Griffin will still count $29.7m (cap hold) against the Clippers. Cap hold is released if Griffin signs with a new team.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin has opted out of his contract to become a free agent.
The Houston Rockets are aggressively trying to make trades in conjunction with Thursday's NBA draft to create the needed financial flexibility this summer to pursue a marquee free agent, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN on Wednesday that the Rockets have at least four top-tier free agents in their summer sights: Atlanta's Paul Millsap, Toronto's Kyle Lowry and the LA Clippers duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
Should power forward Blake Griffin bolt during free agency next month, rival executives believe the Jordan relocation pursuit would only intensify. The Clippers, desperate for youth and athleticism, averaged out as the oldest team in the league last season and are without a single pick in the upcoming draft.
There’s all kinds of work to do before then, like re-signing James’ close friend/Clippers point guard Chris Paul this summer (which is still believed to be likely) and convincing five-time All-Star forward Blake Griffin to come back too (which is considered more dicey).
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."
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.' "
"My whole thing is of where you want to live at?" said Dudley, who spent 2013-14 as Griffin's Clippers teammate. "He lives in L.A., which he loves, Miami is a good place. So Miami is understandable: Pat Riley, they would make the playoffs with him, so that's the only one I could somewhat see. "You're not going to Dallas if you're Blake Griffin. You’re not going to Houston. New York Knicks? You're not going there."
According to several NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter because of the sensitively of contract talks, the Clippers hope to re-sign Paul and Griffin after both exercise their early terminations.
The Clippers and Griffin hope to work out a maximum deal, according to NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
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.
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."
Steve Kyler: There's this perception (Blake Griffin) would want to go back to Oklahoma City, but I've talked to people around that and they find that so laughable. Like, "Look, it's where he's from, but he doesn't want to play there." It's nothing against the city, it's Blake has found an interesting and fulfilling life living in L.A.
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.”
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 most intriguing fit might be if he were to go home to Oklahoma to join Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, but his interests in the entertainment industry make staying in Los Angeles a priority.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin can – and are expected to – opt out of their contracts and become free agents, while J.J. Redick will be an unrestricted free agent. “Everybody knows free agency,” Austin Rivers said. “That’s not a question. We’ve got a lot of free agents this summer, too. So that adds to it.”
Like teammate Chris Paul, Griffin’s next deal is all but done. One executive who tried to engage with the Clippers on a Griffin package got absolutely nowhere, saying it was not a conversation the Clippers were willing to have.
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.
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."
So after three years of Ballmer's ownership, it might just be long enough to draw some conclusions. Most importantly, according to Clippers insiders, is his commitment to keeping both Griffin and Paul long term no matter what it costs.
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.”
Nikki Kay: The recruiting efforts for Blake Griffin to come to #OKC are in motion #Sooners #ThunderUp pic.twitter.com/LIDI2jt9T5
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.”
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."
"I'm confident (Griffin and Paul want to stay)," Rivers added. "Probably the same way every team's confident that they're going to be able to keep their guys. I do think we have an attractive place. We have a new owner. It'd be interesting if Steve Ballmer wasn't the owner, I don't know how confident I'd be. But with Steve I'm extremely confident that we can keep both.
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.
Storyline: Blake Griffin Free Agency
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