With the Clippers on the verge of elimination, the franchise is moving closer to addressing the tough decisions it will face this summer. J.J. Redick is definitely headed toward free agency, and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are almost certain to opt out and join him, leaving owner Steve Ballmer to decide how much it’s worth to keep the current team together.
A recent report suggests that a five-year extension for Paul is a done deal. Redick is a valuable starter, but not a franchise-altering player. So L.A.’s most important choice will be what to do about Griffin.
At age 28, Griffin remains one of the most talented power forwards in the league. He averaged 21.6 points per game this season, topping the 20-point threshold for the sixth time in his seven NBA seasons. He’s a five-time All-Star who will be among the biggest draws on the open market.
But re-signing Griffin won’t be a slam-dunk decision. Injuries, behavior and finances will all factor in, as will the Clippers’ long string of playoff disappointments.
Griffin managed just three playoff games this year before being sidelined for the rest of the postseason with an injured toe. It’s the second straight season that the Clippers have lost Griffin in the first round, as both he and Paul were unavailable at the end of last year’s ouster against Portland. Griffin appeared in just 61 regular-season games, losing part of the season to arthroscopic knee surgery in December.
A year ago, he managed just 35 games and broke his right hand in a fight with equipment manager Matias Testi. Griffin apologized to teammates and fans, but the incident reportedly soured some members of the front office about his future in the organization.
Giving max deals to keep both Paul and Griffin would push the Clippers’ payroll among the highest in the league. Ballmer would be faced with a sizable luxury tax and a huge repeater tax on top of it. Vertical insider Adrian Wojnarowski wrote this morning that it wouldn’t be “realistic” to expect that kind of commitment after another early playoff exit.
One option if Griffin isn’t retained is to revisit a deal for Carmelo Anthony. The Clippers were one of the teams that the Knicks contacted before the deadline. Anthony could at least replace Griffin’s scoring and give L.A. a new Big Three with Paul and DeAndre Jordan.
That brings us to tonight’s question: Should the Clippers re-sign Griffin this summer, and if they don’t, where will he end up? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. We look forward to what you have to say.