The Clippers knew they couldn’t afford to let Blake Griffin walk. Not with CP3 making trails to Houston. That would have been a disastrous kick in the gut for the franchise. Just a couple of hours before midnight was set to strike zero, the Cinderella carriage came awaiting for Griffin.
The Clippers managed to woo and scoop up the would-be free agent for the next five years. The Clippers gave Griffin what CP3 wanted: five years. The stark difference between Griffin and Paul is age. The 32-year-old Paul has a lot of miles on his tires.
Griffin, on the other hand, is just 28 years and moving into his prime years as a ballplayer. So in essence this became a math test for the Clippers. Paul, with 12 years under his NBA belt, wanted what Steph Curry got from the Golden State Warriors: a max contract in the ballpark of $200 million. The Clippers offered Paul four years with less money. He’s now a member of the Houston Rockets.
But had they let go of Griffin, the Clippers would essentially be back to searching for crickets for the next couple of years, and the Lob City era would have been just a nice afterthought. With Griffin reportedly agreeing to a $173 million deal, there’s still a chance Lob City could be re-visited, but it won’t be the same with Paul now in a different uniform.
Somewhere, the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets must be groveling in a whole bucket of rocks.
Thank goodness for intervention. Griffin is still here. The highlight show continues. That heave-ho sign of relief you heard just came from Los Angeles Clippers fans. The Clippers’ front office personnel and management are also doing some exhaling at the moment. They have a pretty good reason to be a little delirious.
Those early round playoff exits to the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz the past two seasons notwithstanding, the Clippers know what time it is when it comes to Griffin and his value around the league. At his best, Griffin is the most unstoppable and exciting power forward in the NBA (LeBron James is a small forward who can play power forward).
Just ask some of those players who have been posterized by some of Griffin’s anthem dunks. A big part of Griffin’s noted aerial repertoire has been his willingness to participate in the whole Lob City phenomenon that galvanized Clipper Nation into a frenzy. There will be no more of Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan flying around the basket and throwing down spectacular dunks off of alley-oop passes from Paul.
But by retaining Griffin and keeping DeAndre Jordan last year, the Clippers have at least solidified their power forward and center positions for a while. The other remaining parts are interchangeable. Patrick Beverly, who came over to the Clippers in the Houston trade for Paul, is a first-team, All-NBA defensive player, who could help form a starting frontcourt with Austin Rivers.
For now, that debate will have to take a backseat to Griffin staying with the team that drafted him. Instead of being possibly schmoozed by the Suns, Nuggets, Celtics or the Heat, Griffin has committed himself to be a Clipper for life. At least for the next five years, anyway.