Over the past 48 hours, I’ve heard very conflicting reports from credible sources about whether the Clippers will seriously entertain offers for the #1 pick. One source said definitively that the Clippers intend to pick and hold onto Griffin. Another said that the Clippers have been aggressive in their Blakephilia only to bolster what was a very sluggish season ticket renewal campaign. You’ve read the reports, so I’m not telling you anything new.
However you feel about Griffin’s prospects, wouldn’t it be foolish for the Clippers not to listen to offers? It’s safe to assume that you’d deal the #1 pick for LeBron James, Danny Granger, or Kevin Durant, which means that Griffin, like any other ballplayer, is an asset that can be assigned a general value. That value is higher for some teams than others. For instance, Portland probably values Blake Griffin less than Washington does. Are there teams out there who are willing to offer a package that exceeds whatever real value Griffin represents to the Clippers?
We know a few things: (1) The Clippers are saddled with three big contracts, and at least two of the three (Baron Davis and Zach Randolph) are overvalued. (2) The Clippers will struggle to get to .500, with or without Blake Griffin. (3) The Clippers have more pressing needs than the PF. (4) Young talent and payroll flexibility — to say nothing of team culture — are vital ingredients to creating a long-term winner. (5) The list of “can’t miss talents” in NBA history includes as many solid contributors and marginal players as superstars.
Signing Blake Griffin will address some of the Clippers’ many issues, but the goal this summer is to solve as many of the problems as possible. The Clippers’ best-case scenario would be a transaction that allows them to dump one of the aforementioned contracts for a useful piece — something along the lines of Hollinger’s proposals — and still retain Griffin, but it’s within the realm of possibility that moving Griffin could give the Clippers the clearest path back to respectability. We won’t know until the offers are public — assuming they ever become public — but it’s conceivable.
Griffin is a sweet prospect, but it’s important to remember that he’s a means, not an end. A responsible GM should rationally weigh the value of Blake Griffin for four years against any and all recourses. The Clippers have a ton of needs and they could very well be presented with an opportunity to address those needs more soundly than a single draft choice can. If they’re offered an existing NBA player who is very good to excellent (and/or a prospect who projects to be very good), and the opportunity to dump either Davis or Randolph, wouldn’t it be managerial malpractice not to consider it?
Let’s open it up: What’s an acceptable offer for Griffin? Please show your work.