The Bulls have a number of needs on the roster heading into what will be a critical offseason for a team that appeared to have itself back into NBA contention until an injury-ridden late-season drop-off left a sour taste in the collective mouths of Bulls fans.
Chicago needs depth. It needs defense on the wings. It needs health. But it could also use a jolt of veteran energy, and for that there could be an interesting candidate: free-agent Nets forward Blake Griffin.
Griffin showed he can still play with energy and inspire his team during last year’s playoffs, even though it was only in two appearances for a Nets team that was swept. Griffin, because of his lack of mobility, was pulled from the rotation by Brooklyn down the stretch of last season, but played with great aggressiveness in the last two games of the team’s ill-fated postseason run against Boston.
“There will be a number of teams that look at him,” one Eastern Conference executive said. “Chicago, Miami, the Lakers, maybe even Boston. They’d be in the mix, at least.”
Griffin Struggled With his Shooting Last Year
Griffin averaged just 6.4 points in 17.1 minutes last year for the Nets, and struggled badly to make shots, hitting only 42.5% from the field and 26.2% from the 3-point line. He played in only five of the Nets’ final 19 games that season, and logged only 50 minutes in that span.
But with the Nets on the ropes against Boston in the first round of the playoffs, coach Steve Nash turned back to Griffin, who garnered attention by playing with vigor for a team that had seemed mostly resigned to lose.
“The thing about Blake is, it is obvious he can’t do much of what he used to do, even when he was in Detroit,” the executive said. “But he made a big, big impression around the league with the way he played against Boston, even though it was just a couple of games. But he was flying around, throwing his body around, taking charges, hitting the floor. He had a care factor that was off the charts, and a lot of teams took notice. This is an All-Star and a former MVP candidate and he is sacrificing himself. As your 10th man on a minimum deal, you take that. It raises everyone’s level.”
Griffin Has Struggled With Injuries
Injuries have sapped much of what should have been a surefire Hall of Fame career for Griffin. He spent the first eight years of his career with the Clippers, before he was shipped to Detroit. He missed his entire first season with a knee injury but missed only four games in his subsequent four seasons. Injuries caught up with him, though, as he missed at least 15 games in every season he has played since, with one exception (in 2018-19 when he played 75 games for Detroit).
But he still does have a veteran presence and is known as a good locker-room guy. For a Bulls team that might need a chemistry boost after an offseason of rumors about Zach LaVine, there could be some benefit to adding Griffin. He might not play a lot, but he would not lack hustle when he did.