Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Griffin, Sixers, Trent, Raptors

After appearing in 41 games for the Celtics last season, Blake Griffin hasn’t been on an NBA roster at all in 2023/24. However, if it were up to the Celtics’ players, Griffin would still be in Boston.

As Brian Robb of writes, guards Derrick White and Payton Pritchard said during an appearance on the Pardon My Take podcast that several Celtics players tried to get Griffin to sign with the team earlier in the ’23/24 league year.

“I think the whole team has been begging him to,” White said.

“I texted him actually a week ago or two jokingly being like, ‘Coming back for one last ride?'” Pritchard added. “He says he’s enjoying his life.”

According to Robb, multiple Celtics players reached out to Griffin during the team’s West Coast road trip in December to ask about a possible return. However, the six-time All-Star has opted to sit out this season to spend more time with his family, Robb writes.

“He told me at the end of last year that his family was the most important thing and I stopped talking to him about it,” Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said when asked on Monday about White’s and Pritchard’s comments about Griffin (Twitter link via Jared Weiss of The Athletic).

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Celtics have held the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference for all but six days this season and appear highly likely to keep the top spot the rest of the way, according to Jay King of The Athletic, who explores whether any conference rivals could realistically catch Boston. The Celtics have a 7.5-game lead on the No. 2 Cavaliers, with just 25 games left to play.
  • With Joel Embiid unavailable and players in and out of the rotation this month due to injuries and trade-deadline moves, the Sixers have struggled to find a rhythm, losing nine of their past 13 games, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required). “There’s a lot of different combinations of guys,” head coach Nick Nurse said, “and we’re trying to make sure when we’re doing stuff that we can figure it out and get more on the same page. It’s just a bit disjointed at times when it gets tough.”
  • While Gary Trent Jr.‘s 41.4% three-point percentage is excellent, his season as a whole has still felt like a bit of a letdown, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic, who considers whether or not that assessment is fair and whether the Raptors will re-sign Trent, who is a free agent this summer. A multiyear offer worth somewhere between the mid-level exception and $20MM annually might be reasonable for the 25-year-old, Koreen suggests.
  • Zulfi Sheikh of identifies six storylines to watch for the Raptors down the stretch this season, including whether the team actually has a shot at a play-in berth and RJ Barrett‘s progress in his first few months with his new team.
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