The draft is behind us, and it’s almost time for free agency.
In recent years, Daryl Morey has consistently attempted to shift the balance of power through free agent acquisitions – this year is proving to be no different. The player we’ll be looking at today is Blake Griffin, who could be looking to leave the Clippers this offseason along with Chris Paul.
A few years ago, Blake Griffin was a surefire top-5 player in the NBA. Since then, however, injuries have ended his last two postseasons prematurely and taken some of his athleticism. Add a first-round exit to a rising Utah team to the equation, and one can then see how and/or why Griffin and Paul could quietly be seeking greener pastures.
As we all know, Daryl Morey and the Rockets are currently in pursuit of multiple top-tier free agents, Griffin included, and are looking to create salary cap space to do so. Griffin has seen better days and carries a pretty serious level of injury concern with him. However, should he remain healthy, his game has actually evolved in a way that would compliment the D’Antoni offense quite well.
Fit in Houston
Last year, Griffin attempted 1.9 3s per game after never attempting more than 0.6 per game prior. He shot 33.6% from 3, only 0.8 percentage points lower than Trevor Ariza. It’s nothing otherworldly, but also not terrible for a player who once had a reputation as an über-athletic rim-runner who couldn’t buy a basket outside of 5 feet. As Griffin’s injuries pile up, and as he advances in age, he will need to stretch the floor and develop a viable jump shot to make up for lost athleticism.
While Griffin can still fully showcase his athleticism at times, he has expanded his game to include more proficiency from mid-range and from beyond the 3-point arc. He could end up playing the role played by Amare Stoudemire under Coach D’Antoni in Phoenix while stretching the floor more effectively.
A tandem of James Harden and Blake Griffin in the high PnR game, whether to generate an alley-oop or a 3, would be incredible. Griffin would also serve as a second All-Star caliber player next to Harden, which would lift a much-needed portion of the offensive burden off of his shoulders.
Can it Happen?
Can the Rockets sign him? Well, it’s tricky. He would probably command the max wherever he goes, so Morey would need to find a way to clear out at least $30M in cap space to sign someone like Griffin. This means parting with players like Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Lou Williams, and/or Patrick Beverley. It is a hard pill to swallow for Rockets fans, but this is the price a team pays to acquire All-Stars in their prime.
Is Griffin worth it? Maybe. In my opinion, a better option would be to trade for Paul George while finding a way to sign Chris Paul. If the Rockets find themselves outbid in the PG sweepstakes, then a player like Griffin becomes an option. He can stretch the floor, is a dynamic pick-and-roll player, a great scorer, and a still-respectable rebounder. Any team would be lucky to have Griffin, including the Rockets.
*All stats via Basketball-Reference*