Blake Griffin

Clippers Confident About Re-Signing Blake Griffin

The Clippers reached a deal to trade away one of their stars today, but remain confident about re-signing another. According to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), the Clips believe today’s Chris Paul trade agreement clears the way for the club to re-sign Blake Griffin.

[RELATED: Clippers to trade Chris Paul to Rockets]

While the idea of re-signing Griffin after losing Paul may seem counter-intuitive, there are some reasons why it makes sense to bring back one without the other. Paul and Griffin were never believed to be the best of friends, with multiple reports over the years suggesting there was some tension between the two players.

Additionally, had the Clippers re-signed both Paul and Griffin to maximum salary contracts, the club would have gone well into luxury tax territory. Without Paul’s max salary to consider, the Clips’ books will be a little easier to manage, even with a lucrative new deal for Griffin on the cap.

Along the same lines, the Clippers wouldn’t necessarily be able to create a significant chunk of cap room by letting Griffin walk, since they already have upwards of $74MM in guaranteed salaries on their 2017/18 cap after taking into account the additions of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Sam Dekker. Re-signing Griffin and staying over the cap would allow the team to keep the trade exception it figures to acquire in the CP3 deal.

Multiple teams, including the Celtics, Heat, and Thunder, are expected to pursue Griffin in free agency, so a return to Los Angeles is hardly a sure thing for the former No. 1 overall pick. Nonetheless, if the Clippers are willing to offer five years, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be the favorite. As our maximum salary projections show, the Clips could offer a five-year deal worth an estimated $172MM+, while any other team could offer up to about $127.7MM over four years.

Meanwhile, in other Clippers news, the team has reached an agreement with forward Paul Pierce to extend the guarantee date on his salary for the 2017/18 season, per Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Pierce, who remains under contract for one more year despite his plans to retire, currently has approximately $1MM of his $3.68MM salary guaranteed. The full amount was set to become guaranteed after June 30, but pushing back that deadline could allow L.A. to use Pierce’s contract in a trade once the new league year begins.

Free Agent Rumors: Lowry, Paul, Teodosic, Pachulia, Heat

Michael Grange of Sportsnet spoke to NBA team sources, as well as longtime player agents, to delve into Kyle Lowry‘s free agency. Grange writes that “it is becoming increasingly evident that Lowry will take the opportunity to test the market.” He also adds that the Raptors are the only team that can guarantee a fifth year in a contract offer to Lowry and can pay more over four years than any other suitor. Grange finds a consensus among his sources that Lowry will not be receiving a max deal out in the market and that “his ceiling will top out at $30 million annually, although that would most likely be on a shorter deal.”

Here are some other relevant free agent rumors:

  • According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (link via Twitter),  Chris Paul and his agents met with the Clippers on Tuesday and discussed the player’s future. Paul’s camp and Clippers officials will speak again soon.
  • Milos Teodosic announced that he will likely leave his Russian team and wishes to play in the NBA, via Novosti by way of Sportando“I will not stay with CSKA Moscow almost for sure. But I don’t know yet where I will continue my career,” Teodosic said. “Going to the NBA is my wish but when I will know where, I will say that.”
  • Zaza Pachulia back with the Hawks? The reunion is an interesting idea that Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution floats, as the team has just one center at present (Miles Plumlee) and Pachulia is an unrestricted free agent and likely to move on from the Warriors. Furthermore, Vivlamore points out that Atlanta’s new GM Travis Schlenk knows Pachulia from his time with the Dubs.
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald asks and answers key questions about the Heat‘s free agency. If Miami were to land Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin, could they still keep James Johnson or Dion Waiters? Jackson says it would be difficult but not impossible. Click through for his detailed answer.

Celtics Working To Land Both Hayward And George

With the free agent period fast approaching, the Celtics are pursuing an “aggressive” plan that would include signing Gordon Hayward and acquiring Paul George in a trade, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The plan – first reported by Adam Kaufman of 98.5 The Sports Hub (Twitter link) – would require specific sequencing, and would hinge on getting a commitment from Hayward.

As Wojnarowski explains, the Celtics would want to get a verbal commitment from Hayward before attempting to finalize a deal with the Pacers for George. However, Indiana won’t necessarily be operating on the same schedule as Boston, and could look elsewhere in an effort to get something done with George while the C’s are waiting on Hayward.

Hayward is expected to start taking meetings with the Celtics and Heat on July 1, and the Jazz continue to fight to hang onto their star forward, according to Wojnarowski. The Vertical’s report indicates that Utah is exploring alternative offseason plans should Hayward leave, but is also working to upgrade its roster before July 1.

The Jazz have approximately $16MM in cap room that will expire on July 1, so that space could be used to accommodate a significant acquisition. For instance, ESPN’s Marc Stein has tweeted that Utah is among the teams to express trade interest in Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio. With their available cap room, the Jazz could absorb Rubio’s entire $13.5MM+ salary without having to send out any contracts.

If Hayward ultimately chooses Utah or Miami, the Celtics may look to substitute Clippers big man Blake Griffin in his place in an effort to land both Griffin and George, writes Wojnarowski. Griffin is also eligible for unrestricted free agency and can earn the same maximum starting salary as Hayward.

The Celtics and Pacers were said to be in “serious” talks involving George on draft night before those discussions stalled. As Wojnarowski points out, Boston is probably the Pacers’ preferred trade partner, since the C’s have a huge stockpile of young prospects and picks that would aid Indiana’s rebuilding process. Meanwhile, the Celtics also have a “growing confidence” that they could sign George to a contract extension and make him more than a one-year rental, which is “fueling” the team’s willingness to part with some of its assets, per The Vertical.

If the Celtics were to acquire George, he’d be eligible to sign an extension, but Boston would have to clear out even more cap room in order to renegotiate his contract and give him the sort a raise that might convince him to postpone his free agency. Like the rest of the Celtics’ plan, that wouldn’t be impossible, but there are a lot of moving parts involved that could complicate the situation.

Stein’s Latest: George, Rockets, Spurs, Nuggets

News broke Sunday that the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Pacers had discussed a three-way deal that would have sent Paul George to the Cavs and Kevin Love to Denver ahead of the draft. As we wrote about earlie, one variation of the potential deal would have sent Kenneth Faried to Cleveland as well.

In an article published at ESPN shortly thereafter, Marc Stein – who sent the initial tweet Sunday night – goes into more details, sharing information about the pre-draft conversations that took place surrounding the Pacers forward.

Here are some highlights from Stein’s latest piece, co-written with Haynes:

  • While the conversations between the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Pacers didn’t amount to anything before the draft, Cleveland haven’t abandoned its pursuit of the two-way All-Star. The Cavs legitimately believe that they could convince George to abandon his dreams of playing for his hometown Lakers, something he is expected to pursue when he hits free agency in 2018.
  • In addition to Cleveland’s ongoing pursuit and the Celtics discussions that came to light on draft day, Stein and Haynes note that the Rockets and Spurs both aggressively pursued George deals before the draft as well.
  • The Nuggets are looking to upgrade at power forward and it’s the reason why Love was included in the possible three-team deal. Denver similarly intends to make plays for pending free agents Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap.
  • All of Faried, Wilson Chandler and Emmanuel Mudiay are said to be available. Big man Nikola Jokic and second-year guard Jamal Murray are supposedly untouchable.
  • The pair also confirm what we wrote about on Friday following a Joe Vardon column at Cleveland.com; the Cavs are expected to pursue Carmelo Anthony should he be bought out by the Knicks.

Blake Griffin Opts Out, Becomes Free Agent

Unsurprisingly, Clippers forward Blake Griffin has formally opted out of the final year of his contract, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweets. The All-Star will hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent.

While the Clippers are expected to at least attempt to retain Griffin and fellow free agent Chris Paul, the forward also expects to see interest from other teams looking to add a star.

Earlier this week we wrote about the Rockets targeting the 28-year-old power forward and it wasn’t long ago when Wojnarowski mentioned that the Celtics could be the biggest threat to the Clippers as far as luring Griffin away was concerned.

Had Griffin not opted out through his early termination clause, he would have made $21.4MM in 2017/18. Instead, as Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times tweets, he’ll be eligible for as much as $175MM through five years so long as he stays with the franchise.

If Griffin leaves the Clippers, he’ll be eligible for a four-year, $130MM deal.

Rockets Target Paul, Griffin, Millsap, Lowry

1:41pm: In an effort to create cap space, the Rockets are making Beverley, Anderson and Lou Williams all available in trades, Stein writes in a full story. Williams will make $7MM next season in the final year of his contract.

12:33pm: The Rockets will chase several of the top free agents on the market this summer, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Sources tell Stein that Houston plans to pursue Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap and Kyle Lowry.

Paul, who is expected to opt out of a nearly $24.3MM salary, will be the top point guard on the market and is rumored to have strong interest from the Spurs, among others. Griffin is expected to use an early termination option and give up a salary of nearly $21.4MM. The Hawks are reluctant to offer Millsap a maximum deal and have reportedly talked to other teams about a sign-and-trade. Lowry is a former Rocket who was traded to Toronto in 2012.

All four players will be seeking max offers, which mean the Rockets, who currently have a maximum of $11.7MM to operate with, will have to clear significant cap room. Houston reportedly is seeking to trade starting guard Patrick Beverley, which would save about $5.5MM and create a backcourt opening for Paul or Lowry. Finding a taker for Ryan Anderson (nearly $19.6MM next season) or Eric Gordon (more than $12.9MM) would open a lot more.

Clippers Gauging DeAndre Jordan’s Trade Value

With Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and J.J. Redick all eligible for free agency this summer, DeAndre Jordan appeared to be the only core piece on the Clippers who definitely wasn’t going anywhere. However, even Jordan may not be a lock to stay put. According to Chris Haynes of ESPN.com, the Clippers have gauged the market on a possible Jordan trade.

The reports on Jordan are somewhat conflicting, with Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times tweeting that the Clips aren’t actively looking to move the veteran center, and adding that no deal has been discussed. Haynes, meanwhile, says the Clippers have spoken to a few teams in “exploratory fashion.” It’s possible that both reports could be true — the Clippers may be asking around to get a sense of what Jordan might be worth, without any formal offers being made.

Nonetheless, Haynes’ report does go into a little more detail, suggesting that the Clippers and Suns discussed the possibility of a swap of Jordan for Tyson Chandler and the No. 4 pick. Phoenix is believed to have “balked” at that idea, per Haynes.

Of course, the respective futures of Paul and Griffin figure to play a large part in deciding what the Clippers do with Jordan. According to Haynes, rival executives believe that the Clippers would intensify their pursuit of a possible Jordan deal if Griffin decides to sign elsewhere as a free agent next month.

It’s also not clear how Jerry West‘s arrival will affect the team’s stance — the Clippers were surveying the landscape prior to West’s arrival, but rival clubs believe Jordan’s status hasn’t necessarily changed in recent days, says Haynes.

Haynes also notes that the Clippers are “desperate for youth and athleticism,” and are expected to be aggressive in attempting to acquire a second-round pick on Thursday.

Clippers Express Interest In Paul George

The Clippers have expressed interest in Paul George, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. For Los Angeles to be a serious contender in the George sweepstakes, the Pacers would likely have to be willing to wait until July to finalize a trade.

As Deveney writes, the Clippers’ best chance to make a trade involving a highly-paid player like George would involve signing-and-trading one of their top free agents. While Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will be among those free agents, the Clips’ dream scenario would likely be using another UFA, J.J. Redick, in a sign-and-trade, then forming a Big Four with Paul, Griffin, George, and DeAndre Jordan.

That scenario is probably a long shot, since the Clippers don’t have first-round picks in 2017 or 2019, and acquiring Redick on an expensive new deal may not appeal to Indiana. But if any team besides the Lakers should feel confident in its ability to lock up George beyond 2018, the Clippers might might be that team, given their ability to get PG13 to his preferred city.

Here are several more George rumors or notes, in the wake of Sunday’s report that he plans on leaving the Pacers:

  • The Cavaliers and Pacers have been immersed in trade talks regarding George, league sources tell Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. According to Amico, Cleveland’s interest in George has been described as “legit,” but pulling off a deal could be “very complicated.”
  • Two NBA sources who spoke to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link) expect the Lakers to get involved in George trade talks if it appears the Cavaliers are moving close to a deal. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links) is skeptical that the Lakers would move young players like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle for George, suggesting that Jordan Clarkson is a more likely trade candidate. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports that the Lakers currently appear unwilling to part with any of their young assets in a trade with the Pacers.
  • The Rockets are worth keeping an eye on in the George sweepstakes, according to Sean Deveney, who observes that Daryl Morey is generally willing to roll the dice on impact players without getting a long-term commitment.
  • The Heat like George, but – given their lack of tradeable first-round picks – probably don’t have the assets to acquire him, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Chris Paul Planning To Talk To Rockets, Nuggets?

The Clippers have recently become “nervous” about reports that Chris Paul is expected to meet with – and perhaps seriously consider – the Spurs in free agency, an executive tells Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. And San Antonio isn’t the only potential suitor Paul plans to talk to, according to Turner, who reports that the veteran point guard may meet with the Rockets and Nuggets as well.

If Paul gives serious consideration to leaving the Clippers, there will likely be no shortage of teams with interest in meeting with him. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested earlier this week that the Lakers and Heat could also get involved in the CP3 sweepstakes this summer. However, the Clippers should still have the upper hand in negotiations, with the ability to offer Paul more years and money than any other team, and with Jerry West joining the front office as a consultant.

[RELATED: Jerry West to leave Warriors for Clippers]

The Rockets and Nuggets probably aren’t likely landing spots for Paul, but they’d be fascinating ones. The Nuggets would be a better on-court fit for CP3, given Emmanuel Mudiay‘s slow development, but Denver typically isn’t a go-to destination for top free agents. As for the Rockets, they’re closer to title contention, but after James Harden had an MVP-esque season playing point guard, it would be surprising if Houston is willing to supplant him from that role, even for Paul.

Turner’s piece also cites several executives who say that the Celtics and Thunder are viewed as the two teams most likely to try to pry Blake Griffin away from the Clippers in free agency. Oklahoma City won’t have any cap room this summer, so if the Thunder were to make a serious run at Griffin, they’d have to dump salary or try to acquire him via sign-and-trade.

Woj’s Latest: Celtics, Griffin, CP3, LeBron, Snell

The Celtics are expected to be the Clippers‘ biggest threat for Blake Griffin this summer, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, who discussed 2017 free agency on a podcast with Bobby Marks. Wojnarowski suggests that Griffin and Gordon Hayward are expected to be the Celtics’ top two targets next month, adding that if Hayward leaves the Jazz, it would be a “tortured” decision.

As for the Clippers, Wojnarowski doesn’t see a scenario in which the club is able to bring back Griffin, Chris Paul, and J.J. Redick. And while Redick is probably the most likely of the three to change teams, Woj thinks there’s a “real chance” the Clippers would move on from from Paul if the two sides can’t come to a quick agreement when free agency begins. Wojnarowski names the Spurs, Heat, Lakers, and Rockets as teams that could get involved in the CP3 sweepstakes if the veteran point guard seriously considers leaving the Clips.

Here are some of the other highlights from Wojnarowski’s conversation with Marks:

  • The Cavaliers aren’t necessarily assuming it’s a given that LeBron James will re-sign with them in 2018. A move out west – possibly to the Lakers or Clippers – a year from now is “very much in play” for LeBron, according to Wojnarowski.
  • Wojnarowski suggests that Tony Snell may be a popular restricted free agent this summer, since teams may feel like they can put pressure on the Bucks, who won’t want to approach tax territory. An annual salary in the $11-13MM range is within range for Snell, says Wojnarowski.
  • During a discussion of possible Nets RFA targets, Wojnarowski mentions Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and notes that the Pistons don’t really want to max him out. However, the idea of losing KCP for nothing would likely be even less appealing to Detroit.
  • While the Lakers haven’t necessarily made any decisions yet, they’re “looking hard” at Josh Jackson with the No. 2 pick. Wojnarowski observes that there are a lot of voices in the team’s front office, so Jackson has support from some execs.
  • Wojnarowski and Marks dismiss the idea that the Kings would trade the fifth and 10th overall picks to move up to No. 3 to nab a top point guard. However, they acknowledge that Sacramento packaging the No. 5 pick with something a little less valuable in order to trade up wouldn’t be unrealistic.
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