Blake Griffin

Nets Notes: Griffin, Aldridge, Two-Way Slot, Harden, Irving, Thomas

The Nets are likely to move away from their approach of spreading the court and could field one of the tallest rotations in the league, writes Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News. That decision was forced partially by the uncertainty surrounding Kyrie Irving, but Brooklyn focused heavily on the frontcourt in its offseason moves, re-signing Blake Griffin and adding veteran big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Millsap.

Griffin played alongside center Nicolas Claxton with the first unit in Saturday’s practice, Winfield notes, but he frequently started at center after joining the team last season and can be effective at either position. Millsap and Aldridge have spent most of their careers as power forwards, but they will also see time in the middle.

“It’s not a traditional big lineup. Blake can switch a lot. I can switch at times. (Kevin Durant) can do it all,” Aldridge said. “I think it’s a big lineup, but it’s not traditional. You’re going to need that. I think teams can play big and play small, and I think having the ability to do both is nice for us.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets’ decision to give David Duke Jr. their final two-way spot and waive Devontae Cacok was based on their philosophy related to two-way deals, Winfield adds. “I think it’s more development at this point,” coach Steve Nash said. “I think when you look at a team like this, it’s hard for those guys fighting for two-way spots to be guys that are playing in the rotation. So it’s not impossible, but it’s more of a development spot, someone that we can groom and help grow into a piece of this organization’s future.”
  • The Nets were determined to trade for James Harden last season because they already had doubts about whether they could trust Irving, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on his podcast (hat tip to RealGM). Woj added that Brooklyn and Philadelphia haven’t discussed a trade involving Irving and Ben Simmons, and he doesn’t believe the Sixers would have any interest in such a deal. He also said the Nets are preparing to play the entire season without Irving.
  • Cameron Thomas put together a strong preseason after being named co-MVP of the Summer League, but he’s still not likely to have a spot in the Nets’ rotation, according to Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Brooklyn has an experienced backcourt after the offseason additions of Patty Mills and Jevon Carter, and there may not be many minutes available for the rookie guard. “I think there’s some ground for him to make up, but we love him as a player and think he’s got a bright future, but it might take some time,” Nash said. “He’s joined a pretty tough team to crack into.”

Central Notes: Griffin, O’Bryant, Karnisovas, Sexton

Blake Griffin admits being upset over internet rumors that he wasn’t giving 100% during his time with the Pistons last season, writes Andrew Hammond of The Detroit Free Press. Griffin, who joined the Nets after agreeing to a buyout with Detroit in February, addressed that topic during an appearance on J.J. Redick‘s podcast, “The Old Man and the Three.”

“It bothered me,” Griffin said. “Because the stat was, he hadn’t dunked in 400-something days … sure.” 

Griffin pointed out that the number is misleading because the Pistons weren’t part of the NBA’s restart in Orlando in the summer of 2020 and he only played 20 more games for Detroit before the buyout. He laughed off the criticism, but Hammond believes he was irritated by the narrative that formed.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks were among several teams that worked out veteran center Johnny O’Bryant, according to Jeff Garcia of Locked on Spurs (hat tip to Dalton Sell of FanSided). The 28-year-old spent four years in the NBA, but has been out of the league since the 2017/18 season. He has been playing overseas and spent last season in the Turkish League. Milwaukee, which drafted O’Bryant in 2014, has two openings on its training camp roster. The Nets and Warriors also hosted workouts for O’Bryant, according to Garcia.
  • Arturas Karnisovas is keeping his promise to not accept mediocrity on the Bulls‘ roster, observes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Cowley notes that Zach LaVine and Coby White are the only players still remaining from when Karnisovas took over as executive vice president of basketball operations in April of 2020. Cowley expects the changes to continue as Chicago tries to break a four-year playoff drought.
  • On his Instagram account, Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton claims that team officials were crying during his 2018 pre-draft workout because they had lost to the Warriors in the NBA Finals the day before.

Atlantic Notes: Griffin, Sixers, Knicks, Schröder

Despite looking rejuvenated in Brooklyn down the stretch of the 2020/21 season, veteran forward Blake Griffin accepted another minimum-salary contract to return to the Nets, and said on Thursday that the decision was a “no-brainer,” as Brian Lewis of The New York Post relays.

“We as a team felt like we obviously didn’t accomplish what we wanted,” Griffin said. “You can say injuries, but every team had injuries. So we feel like there’s definitely unfinished business. There’s something bigger that we want to achieve, and I still want to be a part of that.”

Not all of the Nets’ key free agents returned – Jeff Green left for Denver – but Griffin wasn’t the only player to re-sign a team-friendly deal and make reference to unfinished business after falling short of a championship in 2021. Bruce Brown, who accepted his one-year, $4.7MM qualifying offer from Brooklyn, told GM Sean Marks that he felt “the job wasn’t done.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Rich Hofmann of The Athletic takes a look at the Sixers‘ offseason, observing that the team has mostly taken a “run it back” approach so far, with Andre Drummond and Georges Niang filling the Dwight Howard and Mike Scott roles. Of course, the possibility of a Ben Simmons trade still looms large, but it’s unclear what such a deal might look like if the 76ers don’t get a chance to make a run at Damian Lillard.
  • As Ian Begley of SNY.tv writes, as a result of all the multiyear contract commitments the Knicks made this offseason, the summer of 2022 projects to be the first offseason in a few years that the team won’t have maximum-salary cap space.
  • Knicks forward Obi Toppin, a native New Yorker like Kemba Walker, grew up idolizing the point guard and can’t wait to play alongside him in 2021/22, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. “Having Kemba come to the team is amazing,” Toppin said. “Great player. I’ve watched him as long as he’s been playing since he left UConn. Having an opportunity to play with him is going to be amazing.”
  • Dennis Schröder may not be a perfect on-court fit for the Celtics, but he’ll bring an element of speed and an ability to get to the rim that the team’s other point guards don’t have, and it’s hard to argue with the value of a one-year, $5.9MM deal, says Jay King of The Athletic.

Eastern Notes: Pacers, Knicks, Madar, Nets, Wizards

While it’s not out of the question that the Pacers will make a major trade this offseason, the team isn’t any rush to move Myles Turner or Malcolm Brogdon, the two names that pop up most frequently in Pacers-related trade rumors, writes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

Of those two players, Turner is less likely to be dealt, according to Michael, who suggests that new head coach Rick Carlisle would like to try to figure out the best way to maximize the Turner/Domantas Sabonis duo. It’s possible Carlisle will split up the two Pacers bigs and have Turner come off the bench to start the season, Michael adds.

As for Brogdon, the Pacers have been trying to determine whether he’s the right long-term fit as the team’s point guard and leader, according to Michael. As Michael details, Indiana had some locker room issues in 2020/21 and president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard suggested at the end of the season that the club lacked vocal leadership. The Pacers may expect more in that regard from Brogdon going forward.

Here’s more from around the East:

  • The Knicks, who remain on the lookout for another point guard, have some interest in Dennis Schröder, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Berman also says New York contacted Elfrid Payton at the start of free agency, though it’s unclear if the club views him as a viable fallback option.
  • Yam Madar, the 47th overall pick in the 2020 draft, hopes to play for the Celtics this season, he told reporters on Tuesday. As Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets, Boston’s plan is to see how Madar’s Summer League stint goes and to evaluate its options from there.
  • Nets star Kevin Durant is thrilled that Blake Griffin is set to return to the team for another season, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “To have Blake back, I’m so excited,” Durant said from Tokyo. “I mean, as soon as the season was over, I was telling him that we want him back and telling him that, you know, we should try to do it again. And I was glad to see it get done.” In a separate story, Lewis confirms that James Johnson‘s new deal with Brooklyn is worth the veteran’s minimum.
  • After recently announcing a new deal for NHL star Alex Ovechkin, the centerpiece of his other franchise, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis discussed the contrast between how things played out with Ovechkin and Russell Westbrook, per Emily Kaplan of ESPN. “We had a superstar player with the Wizards, he had an opportunity and wanted to be traded to the Lakers,” Leonsis said. “And I was dealing with that as we were announcing Alex. I couldn’t help but self-reflect on what a difference it is. Here’s a great player in Russell Westbrook, played in OKC, wanted to be traded, went to Houston, wanted to be traded, came to D.C., wanted to be traded and is now in L.A. He’s an unbelievably great person and an unbelievably great player. But that’s the difference between the NBA and the NHL, I suppose.”

Nets Re-Sign Blake Griffin

AUGUST 9: The Nets have officially announced the re-signing of Griffin in a press release. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed, but as noted below, it’s reportedly worth the minimum. Nabbing Griffin at that price is a serious discount for a player who proved to be a solid starter on one of the best teams in the league.


AUGUST 3: Griffin’s one-year deal with the Nets will be worth the veteran’s minimum, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.


AUGUST 2: The Nets have agreed to terms with Blake Griffin on a one-year contract that will keep the veteran forward in Brooklyn, agent Sam Goldfeder tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Terms of the contract have yet to be disclosed.

After surrendering $13.3MM to the Pistons in a buyout agreement, Griffin signed on with the Nets for the rest of the year on a single-season veteran’s minimum contract.

A six-time All-Star with Detroit and the Clippers, Griffin’s tenure as an NBA first option was abbreviated due to a series of injuries.

The 32-year-old veteran thoroughly reinvented himself while with Brooklyn, maximizing some of his still-potent athleticism on a star-studded Nets team to become a valuable two-way big man, equally adept as a power forward and small ball center, and surprisingly agile as a defender.

Griffin boasts career averages of 20.9 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 4.3 APG and 0.9 SPG. In his new reality as a valuable role player, the 6’9″ Griffin had a significantly more modest output with Brooklyn.

In just 21.5 MPG across 26 regular season contests with the Nets, Griffin averaged 10.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.7 SPG and 0.5 BPG. He also posted a solid slash line of .492/.383/.782. After becoming Brooklyn’s full-time starting center in the playoffs, Griffin averaged 9.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.8 SPG and 0.5 BPG, with shooting stats of .532/.389/.714.

Retaining Griffin is a boon for Brooklyn, a team that boasts three expensive All-NBA talents (when healthy) in forward Kevin Durant and guards James Harden and Kyrie Irving, plus pricey sharpshooting wing Joe Harris. With Irving and Harden limited by injuries, the Nets lost a hotly-contested seven-game second round Eastern Conference playoff series to the eventual champion Bucks. If the team is healthy by the 2022 playoffs, it’s shaping up to once again be one of the most formidable clubs in the league.

Luke Adams contributed to this report.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Griffin, Nets, Harris, Cavs, Raptors Staff

The Nets plan to re-sign unrestricted free agent Blake Griffin and are also looking to add depth at center as the free agency period begins, general manager Sean Marks told ESPN’s Malika Andrews and other media members (Twitter link). Money does not appear to be an object — Marks said the Nets are “married to the luxury tax” and owner Joe Tsai is willing to spend whatever it takes to win.

We have more from the Eastern Conference

  • A report that the Sixers are shopping Tobias Harris isn’t accurate, a source familiar with the situation tells Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice. It’s likely that the Harris trade rumor is old news, since his name came up as part of a larger deal with the Rockets earlier this year before James Harden was dealt to the Nets.
  • Along with the pending acquisition of Ricky Rubio, the Cavaliers could look to add another veteran or two in free agency, particularly on the wing, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic writes. Doug McDermott and Reggie Bullock are two names to watch with Cleveland dangling all or part of its mid-level exception for their services. The Rubio deal with the Timberwolves can become official on Friday.
  • The Raptors have added Earl Watson, Trevor Gleeson and Nathaniel Mitchell to Nick Nurse‘s coaching staff. However, former assistant Nate Bjorkgren, who was fired after a season as the Pacers’ head coach, will not return to Toronto, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (Twitter links).

Woj’s Latest: Kawhi, Simmons, Schröder, Kings, Lowry, Nets, More

There’s no indication that Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard wants to leave Los Angeles as a free agent this offseason, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said in Sunday’s televised Woj & Lowe special (video link). However, there is a belief that Leonard is at risk of missing the entire 2021/22 season following his ACL surgery earlier this month, says Wojnarowski.

That nugget was one of several that Wojnarowski and fellow ESPN reporter Zach Lowe shared during their half-hour special and the bonus YouTube segments that followed. We’ve already passed along several of their other insights, including some draft-related rumors, the latest updates on Bradley Beal‘s status, and the fact that the Lakers have shopped Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to many teams around the NBA.

However, the ESPN duo dropped several more notes and rumors during their special. We’re using the space below to round up a few of the most interesting ones:

  • The Sixers have engaged in Ben Simmons trade talks and are making and receiving offers, says Wojnarowski (video link). However, Woj thinks Philadelphia will be patient, noting that Simmons is under contract for four more years, which “opens up the landscape” for possible trade partners. The 76ers are looking for the best possible player they could get back in a Simmons deal, Woj adds.
  • Despite the fact that the Lakers have been linked to so many other point guards in advance of free agency, Wojnarowski believes there’s still a deal to be made with Dennis Schröder (video link).
  • The Kings have talked to teams in both the West and East about Buddy Hield, according to Wojnarowski (video link), who says the club has also received plenty of trade interest in Harrison Barnes. Woj would be surprised if Barnes is dealt though.
  • In a discussion of free agent point guards, Wojnarowski (video link) said that he anticipates a “big market” for Raptors star Kyle Lowry, who could receive offers in the neighborhood of $25-30MM per year, and that the Bulls and Lonzo Ball would be an ideal match in a perfect world, but his restricted FA status could complicate matters. Woj also thinks luxury tax concerns will prevent the Jazz from simply re-signing Mike Conley and keeping everyone else on their roster (video link).
  • The Nets hope to lock up Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden to contract extensions and are optimistic that Blake Griffin will want to return, per Wojnarowski (video link). Jeff Green may be trickier to re-sign, however, as he’ll likely seek more than the veteran’s minimum. Woj and Lowe both identify the Bucks as a possible suitor for Green if he leaves Brooklyn.

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Nets Free Agents, Nets Assistants, Stevens

After the Sixers suffered through a seven-game second-round playoff exit as the top seed, head coach Doc Rivers has stated that the club will address the shooting struggles of All-Star Ben Simmons during the offseason, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“I believe, without going into detail with what we’re doing, I believe we know what the right work is, and the right type of work, and the right way to do it,” Rivers said of the Sixers’ plan for Simmons. “We’re not hiding that Ben has to become a better free throw shooter and a more confident free throw shooter.”

During the playoffs this season, Simmons connected on just 34.2% of his 6.1 free throw attempts per game, and attempted one total three-pointer. The Sixers guard was timid in looking to score late in games. He had just three fourth-quarter field goal attempts in the entire series, fewer than role players Dwight Howard, Matisse Thybulle, George Hill, Tyrese Maxey, and Furkan Korkmaz.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Several key Nets players will be free agents during the 2021 offseason, prompting Michael Scotto of HoopsHype to project the market value for the likes of Spencer Dinwiddie, Blake Griffin, Bruce Brown and Jeff Green. The league executives Scotto spoke with speculated that Dinwiddie is looking to leave Brooklyn and will hope to command an annual salary in the “high teens.” Rival NBA executives peg the value of both Griffin and Green as ranging anywhere from the bi-annual exception to the taxpayer mid-level exception. Because Brown is a restricted free agent, the Nets will be able to match any offer sent his way. Executives project Brown to net a yearly salary between $4-7MM.
  • The Nets might not just be undergoing some changes on the hardwood. Their sideline may look a bit different for the 2021/22 season too, as many assistants are in the running for the seven currently available NBA head coaching jobs, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman writes that assistant coach Mike D’Antoni appears to be a finalist for the Trail Blazers head coaching gig, while fellow assistant coach Ime Udoka is in the running for the Celtics’ vacancy.
  • For the first time, Celtics team president Brad Stevens has discussed his decision to trade point guard Kemba Walker and two picks to the Thunder in exchange for Moses Brown, old friend Al Horford, and a 2023 second-round draft pick, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN“The ability to make our wings (All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) better is going to be a huge part of the people that will be around them,” Stevens said Monday in explaining the thinking behind the deal. Stevens, of course, coached Walker for two injury-plagued seasons before moving into the front office earlier this month. Stevens also cited future finances as a consideration in his decision.

Nets Notes: Harden, Brown, Griffin, Dinwiddie

The Nets‘ plan to build a championship team around three stars was derailed by injuries, writes Malika Andrews of ESPN. Brooklyn pulled off a bold trade in January to acquire James Harden from Houston and combine him with 2019 free agent additions Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but Brooklyn’s Big Three were rarely all healthy at the same time. With the season on the line against Milwaukee Saturday night, Irving was out with a sprained ankle and Harden was limited by a strained hamstring.

“I still thought we could win it,” coach Steve Nash said. “And clearly, I think we proved tonight that we could. Game could have gone either way. You always know there’s a chance. Anything can happen. I think we just faced one too many obstacles this year. Because our guys gave everything they had.”

Harden, who hurt the hamstring in the opening minute of Game 1 and didn’t return until Game 5, revealed that he had been playing with a Grade 2 strain that limited his mobility. He missed nearly a month during the regular season with an injury to the same hamstring.

“Me, personally, like, it’s frustrating,” said Harden, who played all 53 minutes Saturday. “Just being durable and being myself for the last so many postseasons and dealing with this particular hamstring, I’m frustrated. We did everything we could towards the end. Just frustrated, but give the Bucks credit. They fought until the end, had a hell of a series. We just came up short.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Bruce Brown, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, expressed interest in returning to Brooklyn next season, Andrews adds. Unrestricted free agents Jeff Green and Blake Griffin both said they need time to recover before thinking about the future, but they enjoy playing for the Nets. “I’m still happy with my decision,” Griffin, who signed with Brooklyn after reaching a buyout with the Pistons, told Marc Berman of The New York Post. “This was obviously a tough loss, and not where we’re expected to be. But injuries are part of the game, things happen. Being without James for four games and then having him on one leg … (it’s) a messed up situation.”
  • Durant, Harden and Irving will all be eligible to sign extensions of up to four years during the offseason, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Brooklyn will have to determine how much money it wants to commit to the trio, and each player will have to decide whether to take the security now or seek more money when they can opt out in 2022.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie has until Monday to make a decision on his $12.3MM player option for next season, Marks adds. Dinwiddie has indicated that he will turn down the option and pursue free agency, and Marks believes he’ll get at least that much on the open market. The veteran guard played just three games this season because of a partially torn ACL, but his rehab has gone well and he talked about possibly playing if the Nets had reached the NBA Finals.

Celtics Notes: Walker, Stevens, Fournier, Williams, Smart, Griffin

Kemba Walker, who was traded to the Thunder on Friday, had a “tension-filled” season with former coach and now president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Multiple team sources tell Weiss there was dysfunction in the Celtics‘ locker room and Stevens was seen as being tougher with Walker than other players. Weiss adds that after Gordon Hayward left to sign with the Hornets, he told Stevens that he needed to take a more forceful stance with players for the team to be successful.

Stevens became harder on several players, including Walker, whom he frequently criticized for errors on defense. Walker and Stevens often argued, sources add, but they maintained a working relationship and respect for each other.

According to multiple sources, Walker, who signed with Boston two years ago in free agency, became angry about the team’s disappointing season and boos directed at him by Celtics fans. He began talking privately about moving to another team and was willing to accept a trade.

There’s more on the Celtics, all from Weiss:

  • Trading Walker was a first step toward keeping free agent guard Evan Fournier and young center Robert Williams, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer. The Celtics hope to bring back Fournier on a long-term deal while creating only a modest tax bill. The trade will also make it easier to add a maximum-salary slot for 2022 free agency, as Horford’s contract has just a $14MM guarantee in its final season.
  • Multiple sources told Weiss that several players were hoping for a coaching change, believing Stevens didn’t hold some of his star players accountable. There was also frustration with the coach’s “college offense” and complaints that players would get stuck in isolation. There seems to be a preference in the locker room for a Black coach with NBA playing experience, and Chauncey Billups, Ime Udoka and Darvin Ham are among the candidates being given second interviews.
  • Marcus Smart stands to inherit the starting point guard role and will hope to re-establish a culture of accountability on defense that he built along with Al Horford, who returns to the team in the Walker trade. Teammates often ignored Smart after Horford left, according to Weiss’ sources, which led to his confrontation with Jaylen Brown after Game 2 of the 2020 Eastern Conference finals.
  • After Blake Griffin‘s buyout with the Pistons, he asked a Celtics player about joining the team and was told there was too much dysfunction.