Blake Griffin to the Miami Heat is becoming a popular theme.
While many believe deep-pocketed owner Steve Ballmer will not let the five-time All-Star leave the Clippers, some are saying the Heat is a very real destination.
Griffin has informed the Clippers he will be declining his option for $20.1 million next season and enter free agency. Griffin will be seeking a max contract starting at around $29 million and the Heat with at least $35 million to spend once they release Chris Bosh will have the means to reel in what would be considered a ‘whale.’
But is Pat Riley willing to offer Griffin a max contract?
Lee Jenkins, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated who covers the NBA, said today on The Herd with Colin Cowherd his guess is that Griffin, 28, will leave L.A. for Miami. Griffin, a 6-foot-10 power forward, averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists last season while shooting 49.3 percent. He limited players he guarded to 43.6 percent shooting – 2.9 percent under than their normal percentage.
The biggest gamble is Griffin’s health. He has missed 80 games in the last three regular seasons combined and the last two years his postseason was cut short, including playing in just three games in the 2017 playoffs because of a toe injury. In 2016 Griffin partially tore his left quadriceps tendon in Game 4 of the Clippers first-round series and did not return.
Suns forward Jared Dudley, who played with Griffin for a season in L.A., believes his former teammate will sign with the Clippers or the Heat. But he does believe the odds are better of both Griffin and teammate Chris Paul returning to the Clippers. And then there is Bleacher Report, which predicted Griffin will sign with the Celtics.
Griffin is eligible to re-sign with the Clippers for five years and about $175 million. If he leaves, the most he can make is about $127 million over four years with another team.
While a healthy Griffin is one of the best power forwards in the league, it would require a major chunk of Miami’s money to sign him. The Heat have expressed their desire to re-sign their own power forward, James Johnson, who would cost about half as much as Griffin, probably a little less than that, in the first year of his deal.
If the Heat signed Griffin the ideal scenario would be to bring back guard Dion Waiters. But it would take some work for Pat Riley and GM Andy Elisburg to find an additional $5 million or so to make that happen. Miami can get to about $39 million under the cap by stretching Josh McRoberts’ contract.