The erosion was deep. By agreeing to a one-year, veteran-minimum contract with 33-year-old Blake Griffin, the Boston Celtics finally dipped their toes into the lukewarm free-agent market.
As soon as the Nets threw Griffin into the playoff fire, our thoughts instantly went to Game 3 of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Jaylen Brown virtually singled out Griffin on several fourth-quarter plays as the Celtics drew closer to a four-game sweep, despite the fact that he offered them an immediate scoring boost.
Robert Williams III out due to surgery
Griffin is just an elderly big who has lost some of his athleticism; he is hardly a turnstile. That might not be important to Boston, which was short on size and had few options to fill minutes at the 4/5 spots with Danilo Gallinari and Robert Williams III out due to recent surgery.
Griffin will face off against Derrick White and Marcus Smart
Griffin is an eager ball runner who consistently rates among the best big players in assist %, assuming we’re going to focus on the positives. He posted a career-low turnover % last year and the finest ball security season of his career (no small thing to a Celtics team that pretty much fumbled away Banner 18). He’ll be a willing screener who can free up room for Boston’s stars. Griffin will face off against Derrick White and Marcus Smart as well.
The drawbacks: His career 3-point percentage is 32.7 percent; last year, it was 26.2 percent. Last season, the player who once made dunking over a Kia look simple had 13 dunks in 958 minutes. The Celtics must hope that his offensive output improves a little from last season, when they were more a product of Brooklyn’s disarray.
Celtics will have to keep Griffin
Griffin might be OK in a limited role if the Celtics were just trying to fill the vacuum left by Gallinari. He is a reliable teammate who is conscious of his position at this point in his career. If healthy, the Celtics shouldn’t have to rely on him nearly as much as they did two years ago when he averaged 26.5 minutes per game for the Nets in the playoffs.
The Celtics will have to keep Griffin for the entire season in order for the NBA to pay for the majority of his contract (while waiving him would have tax implications, he could be traded).
Al Horford and Grant are the top two big men on the Celtics
Griffin’s inclusion will be interpreted as an indication that the team isn’t overly impressed with the group of camp invitees. Boston currently has 12 guaranteed contracts on its books, along with Luke Kornet’s half guarantee. For camp invitees, there are still up to two spaces remaining.
Williams III will be out for 8 to 12 weeks following a procedure to clean up damage to his knee, while Gallinari might miss the entire season. Al Horford and Grant are the top two big men on the Celtics’ depth chart heading into the season.