Now that superstar point guard Russell Westbrook has signed a contract extension with the Thunder, NBA trade rumors have turned from deals sending Westbrook out of Oklahoma City to transactions that will add further star power around Westbrook in the Thunder lineup.
With Russell Westbrook’s status as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder secured, general manager Sam Presti is now looking to bring another star player to team with Westbrook, according to Sportsrageous. Multiple reports indicate that the Thunder are interested in bringing Blake Griffin back to his home state of Oklahoma to pair with Westbrook.
Westbrook and Griffin have both been regulars in the summertime NBA rumor mill, but while Westbrook has made a commitment to his current team by signing a three-year contract extension for $85 million, Griffin tenuously remains with the Los Angeles Clippers, who are still exploring trade opportunities for their six-foot-ten power forward.
Blake Griffin has two years left on his current contract, but there is an early termination option for 2017-18, so Griffin could become a free agent a year from now, per NESN. Despite denials from Clippers’ management, Griffin’s name has been linked to numerous potential trade scenarios this offseason, so it appears the team is choosing to entertain offers for him, rather than risk getting nothing for him if he leaves as a free agent in 2017.
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So far, none of the teams who have reportedly been trying to deal for Blake Griffin have been successful. The Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, and Denver Nuggets have all been named as teams who are inquiring into Griffin’s availability. The Clippers seem to be driving a hard bargain, so the Thunder will have to come up with an attractive package to acquire the five-time NBA All-Star.
Even if Oklahoma City can pull off a trade for Blake Griffin, there is risk involved for them as well. If Griffin chooses to pursue his options in free agency after the 2016-17 season, the Thunder could end up trading valuable assets to Los Angeles for what would amount to a one-year rental.
Oklahoma City doesn’t want to go through the Kevin Durant scenario twice in two years, so they would need to feel secure that Griffin would want to stay with the team beyond next year. Given that he was born in Oklahoma City, it would appear likely that Griffin would want to remain with the Thunder, particularly if they contend in the Western Conference next season.
Blake Griffin has been in the NBA for six years, entering the league as the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2009 out of the University of Oklahoma. Griffin made an immediate impact, posting rookie averages of 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. He has been an NBA All-Star every season but one, the injury-riddled 2015-16 campaign in which he only played in 35 of the team’s 82 regular season games. Even while struggling with his health, Griffin was able to tally per-game averages of 21.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 4.9 assists last season. By any measure, Blake Griffin is considered one of the elite players in the game today.
Regarding a possible Thunder-Clippers NBA trade, rumors are circulating that Oklahoma City is targeting Blake Griffin in an effort to keep the team in contention next season. Do you think the Thunder have enough assets to pry Griffin away from Los Angeles?
[Photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP Images]