We have reached the point in Blake Griffin's illustrious career at which columnists from every NBA town in North America take turns laying claim to the great young player. The Clippers are awful, you see, and Griffin deserves a better franchise. This happened with Chris Paul previously (Portland's media was the greatest offender), and if the Thunder weren't winning a ton of games, it'd have happened to Kevin Durant.
But nope. The real curse of the Clippers is that Griffin has to see his name in leads like this one from Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
By the start of the 2013 season Blake Griffin needs to be in a Dallas Mavericks uniform.
Mavs Prime Minister Mark Cuban needs to take this from the sports-bar hypothetical to "The Decision" reality. That means clear out all necessary salary cap space and go LeBron on BGriff in the summer of '13. Jim Gray will be available to make the announcement.
Not only does Engel show a remarkable level of disengagement with the reality of NBA free agency, the rookie scale and cap rules, but the level of presumption and absurd canyon-leaping is, well, absurd.
First of all, while Griffin can become a free agent at the end of the 2012-13 season, he would be a restricted free agent, which means that the Clippers could match any offer sheet he signs with another team. Obviously, barring injury, Griffin is on track to draw a maximum-value extension. Obviously, barring injury, the Clippers will match. Not even Donald T. Sterling, who is a great idiot, is that big an idiot.
Because of that restricted free agency reality, top-flight players on first-round rookie scale deals rarely get to restricted free agency. LeBron James? He signed an early extension and avoided RFA. Dwyane Wade? Yep. Carmelo Anthony? Uh huh. Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant? Yes, yes, yes, yes. Derrick Rose will do the same in a few months. It's a reality in the NBA: Superstars sign their second contract after their third year, and stay with their first team for at least seven years.
So now that we've gotten that out of the way -- the fact that there's no way that Blake Griffin will be allowed to sign with the Mavericks in 2013 -- we can put the rest of the column to bed, right?
Watching The Blake Show make its first appearance at the AAC on Tuesday night is a glimpse of the NBA's next Superman. Griffin's presence is the only reason two-thirds of the less-than-sellout crowd at the AAC showed up on a Tuesday night in January.
Math! Attendance for Clippers-Mavericks: 20,335. Attendance of the Mavs' last Tuesday night in January home game, against the Blazers: 19,514. Engel's thesis: If Blake Griffin did not play for the Clippers, attendance for Tuesday's game would have been 6,710, or one-third that of Mavericks-Blazers (without Brandon Roy and Dirk Nowitzki). Math! Leaps of incredible and stupid logic!
He doesn't need to waste another day in a Clippers uniform, so by the time he can be a free agent he will be 24, and entering the prime of his career. At that point Dirk will either be traded, or about done.
Now we are not only ignoring the basic tenets of NBA free agency, but throwing Dirk F'n Nowitzki, the greatest player in Mavericks history, a former MVP and a player who took Dallas to its only NBA Finals berth ever, out the window for a phantom shot to sign a player who won't be a free agent?
Let's give Mac Engel a team. I guarantee he will run it worse than Sterling has run the Clippers. That is saying a whole lot.
Dear Hacks of the World: leave Blake Griffin alone. I implore you. Leave him alone.