After 15 seasons in the NBA and possibly his last with the Boston Celtics, forward Blake Griffin is contemplating his future in the league. In his lone season in Boston so far, No. 91 played 41 games in which he averaged 4.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. A six-time NBA All-Star, the former Slam Dunk contest champion was well respected by C’s fans and teammates, regardless of his limited time on the court.
With the Celtics thin in the frontcourt, Boston would “likely welcome a return by veteran big man Blake Griffin, who played well last year, and was a strong locker room presence” wrote Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. But according to Himmelsbach, the reunion seems “unlikely,” as Griffin considers his future this summer.
Blake Griffin describes time with Celtics as ‘unbelievable’
In a recent one-on-one interview with Dan Rappoport of Barstool Sports, Griffin opened up about his brief time in Beantown, and his experience on and off the court.
In a recent episode on Fore Play Golf, Griffin elaborates on the Celtics, especially Jayson Tatum.
“Dude, Boston is unbelievable. Living in [Boston], playing in Boston, was like, one of the best experiences,” Griffin told Rappoport. “The fans are incredible, having a team that is so championship focused, they do everything. The players on that team are just like such a great group of guys — everyone’s all different.”
The NBA veteran also had some meaningful words about star Jayson Tatum.
“A guy like Jayson Tatum, a legit superstar, so humble, talks to everyone on the team, talks to the whole staff,” said Griffin. “He’d go sit and have a conversation with like whoever.”
The big man opens up about injuries and longevity in the NBA
Although only 34 years old, Griffin was drafted at 20 years old in 2009 by the Los Angeles Clippers. Throughout his illustrious career, Griffin has had unfortunate mishaps with knee injuries. With training camp due to start in four weeks, the former Celtic made remarks on injuries, and the possible impact last year had on his body.
“After this season, like it takes a little bit longer to recover. I’ve had nine surgeries, one bigger one my rookie year on my left knee, and since then, my knees have just been scoped for the most part.” said Griffin.
Once known for his absurd dunks, especially in the Lob City days, Griffin once stated he felt ‘ancient’ compared to the young players in the league. Poised to win an NBA championship, Griffin’s dreams of holding the Larry O’Brien trophy fell short last season. Riddled by injuries, the big man has dealt with a multitude of concerns, including a broken kneecap, meniscus tear, stress fractures, a broken right hand, toe and back pain, multiple knee injuries, a sprained left MCL, ankle, and hamstring injuries. For a player that is only 34, that is a substantial injury history.
“I’ve had some bad luck injuries. I think I could have like maybe changed things here and there. I really like made it a point to take care of my body.”
Starting in 16 of 41 games for the C’s, Mazzulla opted to keep him out of the playoff rotation, after suffering back pain against the 76ers. It certainly feels as though Father Time has caught up with the journeyman.
The Celtics are open to Griffin’s return
Forty-one games played on the court isn’t a lot of time to develop relationship and chemistry with teammates and personnel. However, for Griffin, he made a quick impact in his short tenure with the organization. His connectivity with both fans and colleagues did not go unseen.
With Robert Williams III suffering from injuries, the C’s were often thin in their frontcourt. Griffin became a necessary starter, especially with Williams out until mid-December last season. Although not the caliber player he once was, Griffin’s most productive month came in December. Through seven games, the forward averaged 6.9 points, and 5 rebounds. In that same month, he averaged a season-high 18.4 minutes per game, in which we saw plenty of hustle dives, rebounds, put backs, and the occasional posterizing dunks.
With one roster spot left, Blake Griffin would be expected to sign a veteran minimum deal if he decides to return. With the recent signing of Svi Mykhailiuk, Boston remains just over $2 million below the second apron per Spotrac.
He’s well-liked by Celtics coaches, teammates and personnel
More likely than not, Griffin is a great fit for the Celtics in terms of basketball IQ, experience, and veteran leadership. In 15 seasons played in the NBA, Griffin arose in nine total playoff appearances, excluding last year’s run. For a C’s team that’s hungry to deliver its first championship since 2008, Blake is certainly a player that could benefit everyone around him. His presence, along with defensive awareness, and understanding of the game will forever remain valued by Boston. With Porzingis and Williams experiencing injuries, Griffin would provide depth and a voice for the championship contenders.
C’s President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens hinted at a possible reunion between the big man and Boston.
“When [Robert Williams III] was out at the start of the year, those guys that played in his place did an amazing job of keeping us afloat,” he said. “Blake was as good as it gets both on and off the court.”
Shortly after the Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks 134-125 on March 11, Jayson Tatum spoke highly of Griffin, who finished with a productive 8 points, five rebounds, one steal, and one block. Tatum specifically mentioned his injuries, perseverance, and the impact on this squad.
“I give Blake a lot of credit. A guy that was a superstar in this league, multiple All-Stars, was really at the top. Whether it’s through injuries or whatever, he has really taken on a different role. Takes the first bus, on off days, he plays pickup with the guys that maybe don’t play. I appreciate that a lot, the guys do as well, never makes it about himself, and it's contagious. His energy, his enthusiasm, his personality, we’re all very fortunate to have him as a teammate. Everybody respects him, respects what he’s accomplished, and his voice carries.”
If that quote by Tatum doesn’t paint a picture of Blake Griffin and his influence on this team, I don’t know what does.