After months of speculation surrounding Blake Griffin‘s future in the NBA, the Detroit Pistons are officially making the power forward an unrestricted free agent after agreeing to buy out his massive contract, and the Miami Heat are top contenders to obtain the big man.
Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted on March 5, “Six-time All-Star forward Blake Griffin has agreed to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons and will become an unrestricted free agent, sources tell ESPN. Griffin has interest from many of the NBA’s top playoff contenders and is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams in the near future.”
The biggest issue the Pistons had in unloading Griffin was finding a franchise willing to pick up the $36.6 million he’s owed for the rest of this season, and the $39 million he’s due for next season, which made the 31-year-old veteran a tough sell.
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According to multiple reports, the Heat have shown interest in adding the former Rookie of the Year to their roster. Woj tweeted on Friday, “Among teams that are expected to be considered for Griffin’s next stop, sources tell ESPN: Brooklyn, Golden State, Miami and Portland.”
Following Meyers Leonard‘s season-ending shoulder surgery, the Heat received a surplus of $4.7 million to spend this season from his disabled player exception. If they don’t use the money by the end of the regular season, that money disappears.
The Heat would not have to use the entirety of that extra cash flow to obtain Griffin, they could probably get him for half of that. The only other team with more money to burn for Griffin is the Brooklyn Nets, who have a $5.7 million of disabled player exception money to burn.
The Heat Desperately Need a Big Power Forward
It’s safe to say that Moe Harkless was not a sufficient replacement for Jae Crowder, and Kelly Olynyk is not consistent enough to be a solid fourth. South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman spoke of the Heat’s desperate situation at power forward while appearing on the Onside Zone with Big O on March 3.
Following the Heat’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks on March 2, which ended Miami’s six-game win streak, “Kelly Olynyk gets his fourth foul, and Erik Spoelstra has no choice but to go even smaller,” Winderman said. “From 6-11 to 6-6 with Andre Iguodala. ”
“Here’s the problem… look at the heat power rotation and who isn’t playing. Moe Harkless was brought in to be Jae Crowder. He doesn’t play. Udonis Haslem is brought in to be a leader he hasn’t played a single minute the entire first half of the season! Meyers Leonard is out injured.”
“Chris Silva – Erik Spoelstra says I wouldn’t think twice about putting him in there, but he never puts him in there,” Winderman continued. “And He’s tried KZ Okpala and he’s giving him chances and that simply hasn’t worked…. that’s five options at power forward on a 15-man standard NBA roster that are unusable.”
Heat Have Been Linked to At Least Other 10 Free Agents
Name an available forward becoming available, and there’s likely a report linking them to the Heat. The franchise is trying to avoid the embarrassment of coming off an NBA Finals run only to miss out on the playoffs entirely the following season.
The Heat are not all-in on Griffin, and have their eyes on more than a few players around the league. Big names tossed around thus far include:
- Houston Rockets’ DeMarcus Cousins, P.J. Tucker, and Victor Oladipo
- Sacramento Kings’ Nemanja Bjelica
- San Antonio Spurs’ Rudy Gay
- Cleveland Cavaliers’ Andre Drummond
- Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry
- New Orleans Pelicans’ Lonzo Ball
- Atlanta Hawks’ John Collins
- Chicago Bulls’ Thaddeus Young