With Russell Westbrook back in the fold for Oklahoma City (at least through 2018), the questions about where Oklahoma City goes from here to return to contention are suddenly the next pressing issue. The Thunder can pursue several avenues in trade or free agency, but there is an obvious name already picking up in conversations: Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin.
From the Vertical:
Durant is deleted. Done and gone and no longer part of his world. “What’s next?” he asked – and the Thunder connected with Westbrook on a plan to construct their next act. Once, it was James Harden and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Now, it’s a superstar solo act – with an eye upon Los Angeles Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin in 2017 free agency. Griffin is an Oklahoma kid gone Hollywood, a star who has his own tensions with Chris Paul on the Clippers.
Griffin was at first thrilled to play with Chris Paul, hence the “Lob City!” declaration. But in time, Paul’s stern leadership and overbearing obsession with winning led to tensions. That tension nearly drove DeAndre Jordan to Dallas before last summer’s intervention at his house to convince him to go back on his agreement with the Mavericks.
Then came this season. Griffin has played at a near-MVP level the past two years but pressures began mounting for the Clippers, no matter the circumstances, to reach the conference finals (at least). Instead, Griffin suffered a quad injury, and, while still out with that injury, punched an assistant equipment manager (who is no longer with the team) in the face. The fallout from that led to rumors of a potential trade being bandied about.
Here’s where things get weird.
Several outlets from across the country all got word that Griffin was available in trade talks. “Available” can mean a lot of things. It can mean he’s actively being shopped, it can mean the team won’t hang up if you call, it can mean they’re open to it but not pursuing it. There was a sense from more than one outlet and reporter, associated with more than one team, that Griffin was in some sense available. The Clippers, though, emphatically denied this and suggested it was all being manufactured by other teams.
But the sense has persisted, and this report is another indication that Griffin’s future with the Clippers is unclear. He may not be dealt, but you can’t just mark it off the list of possible scenarios.
As for the fit with Oklahoma City, Griffin grew up in OKC, and went to school in nearby Norman at the University of Oklahoma. It would be a coming home of sorts, and while OKC doesn’t offer the kinds of entertainment opportunities that Griffin desires, it does provide comfort, and Westbrook. Griffin and Westbrook would need shooters around them, in droves, but the athletic and skill combination of the two would make them a formidable force in the West and vault the Thunder right back into contention for at least being a threat to the Warriors.
Griffin theoretically pairs well with Steven Adams, and after the spotlight of the Clippers, the Thunder might provide a quieter, basketball-focused environment and he could still pursue his commercial and film opportunities in the summer.
For now this is all just a reported interest from the Thunder which is fairly obvious; every team that isn’t the Warriors would have an interest in Blake Griffin. But there seems to be at least some sparks with the smoke here, and if nothing else, it’s another in a long line of signs that the Clippers’ current core has an expiration date.
Courtesy: CBS Sports