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NBA Free Agency: The Celtics should take a chance on Blake Griffin

It could pay off big time.

Los Angeles Clippers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Free agency kicks off in just a few days and all the attention understandably is focused on Gordon Hayward. However, there’s another name on the market that might even be a better fit. There are signs that Blake Griffin may be serious about leaving Los Angeles and the Celtics are reportedly one of the teams that he’ll take a long look at.

The Celtics need stars and at his peak Griffin has been an MVP candidate. He fills a position of need and I think he would fit in beautifully next to Al Horford. He would help our rebounding, add another scoring threat (with 3 point range), and his passing fits perfectly into the Brad Stevens system.

Don’t get me wrong, I get all the reservations fans have with Griffin. But let’s go through them one by one.

He’s older than Gordon Hayward. True, but by just one year. Hayward is 27 and Griffin is 28. Keep in mind that Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were both over 30 when Ainge traded for them and Al Horford is 31.

Griffin is injury prone. No getting around this, the guy gets hurt a lot. In fact, our last image of him is leaving the playoffs after getting hurt once again. (via SBNation)

Griffin seemed to know right away when he left in the second half of Game 3, which the Clippers ended up winning anyway. He whacked a chair in frustration before leaving the court, and the team announced it’s an injury to the plantar plate in his big toe.

After playing only 35 games last season — due to a broken hand from punching a trainer and a recurring quad injury — Griffin had bounced back to play 61, only sitting for one extended stretch in the middle of the year after undergoing a minor arthroscopic knee surgery. Still, it has now been three straight seasons that Griffin has played fewer than 70 games, and it makes you wonder what will happen when he hits free agency this summer.

My only counter to this is luck. All it would take is for Blake to get a few lucky non-breaks and he could be well worth the gamble. In fact, even if he only got hurt earlier in the year and was full speed for the playoffs, that alone would make him a bargain.

Speaking of cost, that’s perhaps the biggest roadblock in most fans’ minds. Why would you pay Griffin a max 4 year contract when he could be a 32 year old injured contract albatross by the end of the deal? Well, if he’s healthy for the first 2 or 3 years and playing up to his normal standards, it might be worth eating that last year or two as a bad contract. In a worst case scenario, we could always use one of those stockpiled draft picks to offload his contract Mozgov-style.

Of course, making the case for an exit strategy isn’t the best way to sell a fanbase on a free agent, so I’ll make one last note. He might not even cost the full max over 4 years.

Old friend Kevin O’Connor at The Ringer reports:

The sense I’ve gotten over the past month from chatting with agents and front-office executives is that it would be shocking if the Clippers offered Griffin the full five-year max contract, valued around $170 million. The Clippers’ caution would be understandable. Griffin has been hampered by an endless list of injuries over his career. Offering all that guaranteed money would be a monumental investment carrying tremendous risk. If the Clippers don’t go to five years, the door opens for teams willing to offer the four-year max, which is worth roughly $128 million. Teams could be even more comfortable offering Griffin a max deal with options for the third or fourth season, or a four-year deal at a value lower than the max.

If you can sell him on the opportunity to play for the Celtics for less than the full max, I think you have yourself a great fit. Ainge loves getting value and he would be buying low on a guy that (when healthy) is a legit star in this league.

Perhaps Gordon Hayward is the top priority for the offseason. That makes perfect sense and it fits so many narratives. However, when you step back and look at the roster and consider what we need, adding an elite scoring, rebounding, passing big man makes a whole lot of sense too.

Maybe, just maybe, Blake Griffin should be option 1B. Just something to consider as the calendar turns from June to July.

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