The first domino fell Tuesday in what has already been a dramatic offseason for the Clippers.
Chris Paul’s decision to team up with James Harden in Houston not only left the Clippers without one of the most admired point guards in the modern NBA, but also ramped up the team’s desire to re-sign his All-Star running mate for the past six seasons, forward Blake Griffin.
“We think we’re in a great spot,” Coach Doc Rivers said during an appearance Thursday on “Lunchtime with Roggin and Rodney” on KLAC-AM (570), “but there are a lot of teams that want him.”
Griffin will likely start hearing from those teams at 9:01 p.m. Friday, when both he and the Clippers’ six other free agents can begin negotiating with teams. They cannot sign until the league’s moratorium period ends on July 6. The Clippers are expected to meet with Griffin’s representatives on Friday, while Griffin is reportedly meeting with the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.
In addition to Griffin, starting shooting guard J.J. Redick and role players Raymond Felton, Brandon Bass, Alan Anderson, Marreese Speights and Luc Mbah a Moute are all free agents.
Redick is not expected to re-sign with the Clippers, while the others are all likely to earn more elsewhere than back in L.A. It creates a lot of intrigue for a team without a great deal of spending power and raises questions of how the front office will live up to the vow Frank made on draft night.
The Clippers reportedly have interest in a vareity of free agents, including Rudy Gay, Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Joe Ingles.
“We’re going to do everything we can to put together a team that competes for championships every single year,” he said after the Clippers added a pair of guards in the second round.
Rivers, the Clippers coach and team president, was forced to redirect his offseason plans quickly Tuesday when Paul informed him and fellow top executive Lawrence Frank that he would leave in free agency. Instead, Paul did not opt out of his contract and the Clippers traded Paul for seven players, highlighted by defensive-minded point guard Patrick Beverley, and a 2018 first-round draft pick.
“The end of the day, Chris decided to leave and we just moved to the next thing,” Rivers said. “Nothing you can do about it.”
The Clippers’ desire to build around Griffin now is complicated by how much the team can pay him ($170 million over five years) versus how much they might want to. At what point, could another team…