The Los Angeles Clippers and Blake Griffin plan to sign a five-year, $173 million contract once NBA free agency begins, according to The Vertical’s Shams Charania. This quells any further rumors that Griffin could leave Los Angeles and cements the Clippers around their star now that Chris Paul has left to Houston.
Griffin had set up meetings with Denver and Phoenix headed into the free agency process, but he cancelled those meetings on Friday after apparently being offered the five-year max by Los Angeles. Other teams had been rumored to have interest — Miami, Boston, and maybe even a hometown reunion in Oklahoma City — but Griffin didn’t wait to see. Instead, the 28-year old is re-signing with the team that drafted him first overall in 2009.
With Paul gone to the Rockets, Griffin alone is the team’s new star. It will give Los Angeles a chance to build around him, and it allows Griffin to sign a max contract for more money than any other team could have offered him, all while staying in the city of Los Angeles, where he seems to enjoy the stardom and can pursue other career opportunities in his free time. Though free agency hasn’t officially started, we’re already seeing the fireworks begin.
What does Griffin do well?
Griffin is a skilled, athletic power forward who does way more than just dunk. In fact, the dunks you remember from his first and second seasons playing in the league don’t happen all too often anymore. Griffin is instead a crafty forward, able to create shots with his passing and dribble while flashing an improved three-point stroke last season — hitting 34 percent on almost two attempts per game.
With Paul out of the picture and Patrick Beverley, who typically plays off the ball more than almost any point guard in the league, Griffin will get a chance to flash his playmaking abilities as a point forward more often than ever before.
What should we know about Griffin’s contract?
This is where things get tricky. Griffin underwent toe surgery at the end of last season — one of a half dozen ailments that have caused him to miss time throughout his career — and might even miss time to start next season, depending on who you believe. The Clippers are making a five-year gamble that Griffin, who turns 29 next season, will be able to stay healthy and effective until he’s 33.
Griffin is skilled, but he’s no Dirk Nowitzki — he still relies heavily on his athleticism. Foot problems have sunk careers and Griffin’s is in danger of that, too. If he doesn’t have the same quickness or leaping ability, then Griffin’s game is clearly in danger of falling off a ledge.
What does Griffin solve for the Clippers?
By re-signing Griffin — even at the lucrative price — Los Angeles is going into a retooling process rather than a rebuilding one. They have some ridiculous contracts on the book, but they’re not tumbling into luxury tax hell now that Paul is gone. Their other option was to spend up to $300 million to keep a team together that still hasn’t made it to the Western Conference Finals. With Griffin back and other contracts coming off the books in 2018 and 2019, perhaps the Clippers can find a way to reassemble a contending team without tearing everything down completely.