In the wake of his signing with the Brooklyn Nets, Blake Griffin took to Bleacher Report to do an Ask-Me-Anything with fans. Griffin revealed a myriad of interesting tidbits, but one that stood out in particular for Clippers fans was his response when asked why he chose Brooklyn over LA.
“They have a need for a four-man,” Griffin replied. “I’ve always had a lot of respect for Steve Nash and all of the guys that they have. Sean Marks has done a great job there. It was a tough decision and I wanted to be on a team that was contending.”
There are a few things to unpack here. First, it is unclear if the fan was asking about the Lakers or the Clippers when they used the term ‘LA.’ Griffin was supposedly being pursued by both LA teams. The Clippers would’ve had a harder time signing the former franchise cornerstone, as they are hardcapped and would’ve had to make a separate trade in order to clear space for Griffin.
But, just for fun, let’s assume Griffin interpreted LA to mean the Clippers. The “need for a four-man” excuse is a bit questionable. It’s hard to imagine that Head Coach Tyronn Lue would have a problem with moving Nicolas Batum to the bench to clear out a space for Griffin, despite Batum’s stellar three-point shooting this season. Sure, Batum is probably a better perimeter defender, but Griffin would bring a ball-handling and passing element that the Clippers have been lacking. The Clippers’ personnel actually would’ve complimented him perfectly—Serge Ibaka spreads the floor and protects the rim so Griffin wouldn’t have to, and he would’ve been surrounded by excellent three-point shooters and perimeter defenders in Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Patrick Beverley.
The Nets, on the other hand, have been playing Kevin Durant at power forward the entire season, and appear to have no intention of moving starters around in order to insert Griffin as the new starting power forward. It sounds as though he’ll be coming off the bench in Brooklyn, with an opportunity to finish games as a small-ball five. If Griffin was looking for the team that would offer him the most minutes, it doesn’t seem like Brooklyn would be the obvious choice.
But he also mentioned that he “wanted to be on a team that was contending.” Was this the true incentive behind his decision? Does he see the Nets as a better team than the Clippers? Perhaps he thinks they have an easier path to the finals, being in the Eastern Conference. Either way, this could be interpreted as a slight towards the Clippers, who had a well-documented collapse in last year’s playoffs.
Griffin has been part of a few Clippers’ playoff collapses himself. Perhaps this is the real reason he didn’t choose LA—too many bad memories. He and the Clippers organization didn’t exactly end on good terms when they traded him to Detroit just a few months after signing him to a max contract.
We’ll never truly know exactly what factors went into Griffin’s decision. Perhaps he just enjoys the East Coast vibes more (although it’s hard to argue against the LA weather).