Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin Talks Free Agency, Injury

Blake Griffin, who re-signed with the Clippers on a five-year, $173MM deal this offseason, said the decision to stay was a “no-brainer,” as Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com relays.

“Obviously this has been my home since I was drafted, and a lot went into this decision for me,” Griffin said. “Not only what was best for me and my family, but just the quality of people and work that we have here. That goes from owners all the way down to the coaching staff to the roster to everything just day-to-day. I think with [Clippers owner] Steve Ballmer and [president of basketball operations and head coach] Doc [Rivers] and [executive vice president of basketball operations] Lawrence [Frank], all the way down, in the end I realized this is a no-brainer for me. This is the best place for me. This is a place where I want to start and finish my career.”

The power forward had meetings scheduled with the Suns and Nuggets early in the free agency period, though he canceled them both after meeting with the Clippers. Griffin was impressed with the team’s presentation. He added that he expects the team to play faster now that Chris Paul has departed.

“The size and speed on this team is exciting. I think playing in transition, getting out, keeping the ball moving, playing free is something we’re looking forward to. I think we’re well equipped,” Griffin said.

Los Angeles made several additions after bringing Griffin back. The Clips added Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams when they sent Chris Paul to Houston. They brought in Danilo Gallinari via sign-and-trade and they signed European star Milos Teodosic.

When Griffin will get an opportunity to play alongside his new roommates is unclear, as he’s recovering from an injury to his big toe. He’s aggressively rehabbing his injury and hopes to be ready for the season.

“I’ve met with probably five different foot specialists before surgery, and everybody’s conclusion was that training camp was a very realistic possibility,” Griffin said. “So I expect to be ready to go by training camp. Within the next few weeks here I’ll be able to go on the court and ramp up things there. It’s been nice to be on court and do ballhandling and free throws and stuff like that, but [I’m] just taking it week by week really.”

Blake Griffin Signs Five-Year Deal With Clippers

JULY 18: With the Clippers having taken care of most of their other offseason business, Griffin has finally made his new deal official, according to the NBA’s transactions log.Blake Griffin vertical

JUNE 30: Forward Blake Griffin will remain with the Clippers, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. After cancelling meetings with the Suns and Nuggets, Griffin has come to agreement with the Clippers on a five-year deal worth the maximum salary, putting the overall value of the deal in the neighborhood of $173MM.

The two parties apparently finalized a five-year max deal during their meeting and Griffin didn’t feel the need to entertain offers from any other ball clubs. As Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports explains, such a deal was likely so long as the Clippers were willing to fully commit to the 28-year-old power forward.

Per Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, the Clippers pulled out all the stops in their meeting with Griffin and the forward was impressed. The meeting included what Turner describes as a “museum of Blake,” a recap of all the different parts of life that Griffin has experienced with the franchise, essentially.

With Chris Paul now out of the picture, this will mark the first time since his rookie year that Griffin is the focal point of Los Angeles’ offense. This, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman implies, could have increased the likelihood of a deal.

Despite the trade of Paul and the probable departure of J.J. Redick, the Clippers don’t appear to be ready to enter rebuilding mode. The club’s haul in its deal with the Rockets included multiple solid veteran players – Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams – and a pair of youngsters who could play rotation roles in Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell. If the club adds another veteran piece or two in free agency, it looks like a roster capable of contending for a playoff spot.

As we’ve laid out in our max salary projection chart, so long as the NBA’s most recent $99MM cap projection holds up, Griffin will make $29.7MM in 2017/18, gradually increasing up to $39.2MM in 2021/22. That’s a huge investment in a player who has battled injury issues for much of his career, but the former first overall pick is one of the game’s most talented bigs when he’s on the court, and the Clippers will keep him through the rest of his prime years.

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the deal will not include a no-trade clause.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Griffin Cancels Meetings With Suns, Nuggets

Not long after it was announced that Blake Griffin would meet with the Suns when free agency began, he canceled the meeting, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets.

The All-Star forward also cancelled a meeting with the Nuggets suggesting that, barring a mysterious unnamed club swooping in and luring the forward away, a return to the Clippers may be imminent.

That Griffin did in fact cancel meetings with both Phoenix and Denver has since been corroborated by Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times.

Western FA Rumors: Hayward, Gallinari, Clippers

Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey remains confident about his team’s chances to re-sign Gordon Hayward, George Hill, and Joe Ingles, writes Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. The team’s ability to bring back Hill and/or Ingles may be key to retaining Hayward.

Genessy reiterates (via Twitter) that Hayward really wants the Jazz to re-sign Hill, adding that his decision could hinge on that, while Sam Amick of USA Today notes (via Twitter) that Hayward and Ingles share an agent. Utah has been seeking a trade for a cheaper point guard to replace Hill, but may be hesitant to make such a move if it would make Hayward more likely to leave.

Here’s more on free agency from around the Western Conference, including another Hayward-related note:

  • Having previously said that he wouldn’t prioritize the Nuggets over any other suitor in free agency, Danilo Gallinari tells Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport that his goal is to remain with Denver, and will have one of his first meetings with the Nuggets. Emiliano Carchia of Sportando provides the English translation on the quotes from Gallinari, who also acknowledged that he won’t receive a maximum salary contract.
  • The Clippers want to hang onto Blake Griffin in free agency, but it’s not clear whether the team is prepared to put a five-year, maximum salary offer on the table for him, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.
  • Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link) identifies Jonathon Simmons, Rudy Gay, Danilo Gallinari, P.J. Tucker, James Johnson, Joe Ingles, and Andre Iguodala as additional free agents of interest for the Clippers.
  • The Gordon Hayward sweepstakes are creating a battle amidst the Ainge family, as Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com details. Tanner Ainge, the son of Celtics president Danny Ainge, is running for Congress in Utah and has pushed for Hayward to remain with the Jazz.

Blake Griffin To Meet With Suns

All-Star forward Blake Griffin is scheduled to meet with the Suns this Saturday, a league source tells Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times. After exercising his early termination option last week, Griffin will hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent.

Although the Clippers remain optimistic about signing Griffin even after the Chris Paul trade, the 28-year-old forward could very well bring a formal end to Lob City by signing a deal elsewhere.

The Suns boast an intriguing young core with Devin Booker and Josh Jackson and could look to climb out of the lottery with the addition of an established star like Griffin. Griffin averaged 21.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season in a third consecutive injury-plagued campaign.

Free Agent Rumors: Gay, OKC, Wolves, Hawks

Free agent forward Rudy Gay will hold meetings with potential suitors in Austin, Texas this weekend, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). The Thunder have long been rumored to have interest in Gay, and Wojnarowski notes that Oklahoma City continues to view Gay as a potential fit on its roster.

In addition to Gay, Blake Griffin has long been considered a probable 2017 free agent target for the Thunder, and in the wake of Wednesday’s Chris Paul trade, Royce Young of ESPN.com (Twitter link) wonders if OKC likes its chances of landing Griffin any more. The Thunder won’t have the cap space to sign Griffin outright, but could make a sign-and-trade work. Still, as Erik Horne of The Oklahoman writes, Griffin would have to want to play in OKC, and there has been little indication of that so far.

Here are a few more free agent rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link) identifies Mike Dunleavy Jr. as a potential free agent that will be on the Timberwolves‘ radar, noting that Minnesota needs shooting and Dunleavy has played for Tom Thibodeau before. Dunleavy technically remains under contract with the Hawks, but his 2017/18 salary features only a small partial guarantee, so it’s possible he’ll be waived soon.
  • Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor views Jimmy Butler as the sort of player capable of helping the Wolves attract notable free agents to Minnesota, per Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune. The club is believed to be in the market for a free agent point guard, so Butler’s influence may be put to the test very soon.
  • The Hawks have many players eligible for free agency this weekend, and may explore the market for outside targets, but new general manager Travis Schlenk doesn’t expect the team to rush to get anything done at 12:01am on July 1, as Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution details.
  • After missing the entire 2016/17 season, free agent point guard Mo Williams is working toward a possible NBA return, agent Raymond Brothers tells Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Wojnarowski adds that Brothers is now representing free agent forward Brandon Bass as well.

Los Angeles Notes: Rivers, Jordan, Lopez, Simon

Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers is denying a report that an ongoing feud between his son, Austin, and Chris Paul led to Paul’s trade to Houston today, according to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. In a series of tweets, Doc Rivers thanked Paul for his years of service and called his departure a “big loss” for the team. He also said there have been rumors floating around that Paul was clashing with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as well as Austin Rivers.

“We’ve heard all the stories about Blake and DJ and Austin,” Doc Rivers said (Twitter link). “I can’t comment just on Austin because it’s just not right. We’ve heard he left because of all three today (Twitter link). There is a lot of speculation on why he left. The one thing I know is he didn’t leave because of any of those three guys (Twitter link). He left because he felt like he would have a better chance to win somewhere else.” (Twitter link)

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • The Clippers may re-examine the idea of trading Jordan now that Paul is gone, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Jordan and Griffin are something of an awkward pairing with both preferring to play near the basket, and Lowe suggests that the problem will worsen without an elite point guard on the floor. L.A.’s front office took several calls about Jordan last week and may decide to move him if the organization is headed toward a rebuilding project. Jordan has a player option worth a little more than $24MM for 2018/19.
  • The Lakers‘ trade for Brook Lopez last week was about more than just cap relief, relays Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. Lopez, who grew up in North Hollywood, was acquired from the Nets along with the 27th pick in the draft in exchange for D’Angelo Russell and the three years and $48MM left on Timofey Mozgov‘s contract. “A lot of those emotions turned into general excitement with this opportunity to come back home and chance to lead the franchise back to success,” Lopez said today as he met the L.A. media. “I want to be out there teaching the young guys and being a guy that [coach] Luke [Walton] can rely on and do whatever he asks.”
  • Despite talk that the Lakers will save their big free agency moves for next summer, new GM Rob Pelinka told Medina that he wants to contend right away (Twitter link). “We don’t see next year at all as a rebuilding year,” Pelinka said. “We see next year as a Lakers year.”
  • Miles Simon has been added to the Lakers‘ coaching staff, the team announced on its website. The Most Outstanding Player of the 1997 NCAA Tournament, Simon has recent coaching experience with USA Basketball, capturing gold medals at several junior levels.

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.

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