As the first installment of our 2017 free agent power rankings shows, Blake Griffin figures to be one of the biggest names available next summer, trailing only a pair of probable Warriors free agents – Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry – in terms of star power and value. However, Griffin didn’t exactly jump at the chance to discuss his potential free agency, telling SiriusXM NBA Radio that it’s “nothing I even really think about” (SoundCloud link).
“[I] haven’t had the conversation with anybody,” Griffin said about his free agency. “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 and postseason, still got some preseason. 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.”
Technically, Griffin remains under contract with the Clippers through the 2017/18 season, but that final year of his contract is an early termination option, which functions similarly to a player option. The star forward could reach the open market in 2017 by exercising that option to terminate his contract a year early.
Even if he intends to re-sign with the Clippers, it makes a lot of sense for Griffin to opt out, since he could ensure he gets a raise for 2017/18 on a new deal. Currently, Griffin is slated to earn a salary of $21,373,952 for the ’17/18 season. If he opts out and signs a new contract next July, he’d be eligible for a starting salary in the neighborhood of $28.8MM, based on the NBA’s most recent cap projection.
While Griffin doesn’t seem eager to discuss his looming free agency, there are no indications yet that the Clippers are at risk of losing him. As head coach Doc Rivers noted when he addressed the issue over the summer, as long as L.A. plays well this season, there’s no reason the team shouldn’t enter next summer as the strong favorite for Griffin, and for teammate Chris Paul, who also has an early termination option for 2017/18.
“With Steve [Ballmer as team owner], I’m extremely confident that we can keep both,” Rivers said in July of Griffin and Paul. “You know, listen, winning is the key. The better we play on the floor, the better chance we have of not only keeping those guys but actually adding to our basketball team. That’s always the key factor in this. Quality of life is important, being comfortable, players getting along with the staff and each other. All that goes into it. But I think we’re in a good place there. I know both of them have said they want to play here. They want to play for us forever.”