Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin more than likely going to be heading to a new team for the 2017-18 NBA season. According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Griffin has decided to opt out of his contract and become a free agent.
Now, it’s worth noting that this obviously doesn’t mean that he won’t go back to the Clippers. Actually, if he did opt to re-sign with the team who drafted him, he could sign up to a five-year, $177.5 million deal. If he goes anywhere else, his max deal could be a four-year, $131.6 million contract, according to FOX Sports.
So, let’s play the “where will he go next” game, and look at a few potential top targets for Griffin.
1. Houston Rockets
There’s no denying the fact that the Rockets need a power forward, and getting Griffin paired up with James Harden would likely mean that this team could be a serious contender next year. Houston’s current starting power forward is Ryan Anderson, who they’d likely have to move if they wanted to sign Griffin. With that said, Anderson isn’t a dominate in the paint type of guy, he’s more of a 3-point shooter who can grab some boards.
Obviously, Griffin is a massive upgrade from Anderson, but moving what’s left of Anderson’s four-year, $80 million deal that was signed before last season could be a bit of an issue. Who’s to say it couldn’t happen, though, and if it does, Houston would be an appealing option for Griffin.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
As crazy as it sounds, the Lakers are indeed a team on the rise. They have young talent in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. To go along with that, Paul George has been linked to the Lakers already, and a trio of Ball, Griffin and George would be pretty awesome. The real question here would be how Randle and Griffin would co-exist, and the answer is that it probably wouldn’t happen, so the Lakers would likely move Randle in a trade.
As Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report pointed out months ago, Griffin’s interests in the entertainment industry could make staying in Los Angeles and going to the Lakers a real possibility.
The potential for Griffin to be able to stay in beautiful Los Angeles simply has to be appealing, and if he doesn’t want to return to the Clippers and needs a new team, then this would make sense. Just based on pure upside, the Lakers and Magic Johnson could tempt Griffin immediately.
3. Boston Celtics
The Celtics could offer something that only the Rockets on this list may be able to offer to Griffin, which is the chance to immediately play for a championship. The reason why they’re down on the list a bit is that Boston would need to free up some cap space to land Griffin. Keith P. Smith of Celtics Blog broke down a way that the Celtics could get a max free agent this summer, but it wasn’t easy.
It’s hard to deny the fact that Griffin and the Celtics wouldn’t be a perfect pairing. The C’s need a power forward and realistically it’s the only key piece they’re missing, and Griffin certainly would love a situation where he can join a team who’s ready to win. The question is, would the Celtics be more appealing than the Rockets if both options were on the table? Tough question and one worth debating.
4. Los Angeles Clippers
Money talks, right? That’s a hefty sum of money that he could land from Los Angeles, and Griffin has spent his entire career with the Clippers. While the team hasn’t been able to get over the hump and make a real NBA Finals push, they’ve certainly had talented rosters. The Clippers have shown the ability to lock in and build a strong group, and DeAndre Jordan is still in town as well. The problem? As SportsCenter reported, Chris Paul will opt out and could also be leaving out.
Even still, don’t rule out a potential return to the Clippers, as they have the money in their favor and Griffin also has built plenty of strong relationships there.