Now that the 2017 NBA Draft is over and done with, the NBA free agency 2017 is set to take the center stage as teams look to fortify their rosters. The free agency season kicks off on July 1 and it promises to be an interesting one for Blake Griffin and Gordon Hayward. Here are some of the potential landing spots for these two All-Stars.
3 Possible Landing Spots for Blake Griffin: L.A. Clippers, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics
Any team needing an upgrade at the power forward position would be insane not target Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers. The 5-time NBA All-Star opted out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Griffin is looking to play for other teams. However, couple this with the fact that Chris Paul has also opted out of his contract, the possibility that Griffin leaves Los Angeles is almost a certainty. Be that as it may, this move by Griffin may just be a way to get leverage in negotiating a new mega-contract with the Clips, or this is the real thing, and Griffin really does want out.
That being said, the Clippers are still the prime contender for retaining Griffin’s services. According to the LA Times, the Clips can offer the former Rookie of the Year a 5-year $175 million contract while other teams can only offer him a max of $130 million. Uncertainty surrounds Griffin especially due to his injury history, and if Griffin wants long-term security, not to mention tons of money, then he would probably stay a Clipper.
Miami Heat is a team that needs a legitimate power forward. It also has the cap space to sign Blake Griffin and another superstar. Add Griffin to Miami’s starting lineup including Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, Justice Winslow, Josh Richardson, and/or Dion Waiters, then the Heat could become one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The Heat has already established a culture and has a proven system. They also have a solid coach in Eric Spoelstra and a GM that knows what he’s doing in Pat Riley. Oh, there’s also the lack of state income tax in Florida.
Boston is another team in dire need of a versatile big man. With Griffin teaming up with Al Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, the Celtics would be fielding a core that is immensely better than the one that lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Celtics would also give Griffin the best chance to win an NBA championship. The Celtics topped the Eastern Conference standings last season only to fall to the Cavaliers. Having Griffin on their side shores up a lot of their perceived weaknesses and Griffin stands to be a major piece in upending the defending Eastern Conference champs.
However, do not be surprised if Griffin ends up with the OKC Thunder, his hometown team, or the Houston Rockets, a team also reportedly going to pursue Griffin with extreme prejudice. Both teams have to shift a lot of assets to obtain the services of Blake Griffin, but landing a power forward of Griffin’s caliber would make it worth their while.
3 Possible Landing Spots for Gordon Hayward: Utah Jazz, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics
Gordon Hayward had a 2016-2017 breakout season. A tough-tier defender and an elite scorer, Hayward has become the face of the Utah Jazz franchise. Hayward can sign a 5-year $179 million max contract with the Jazz, or he can sign with other teams for $46 million less. According to Fox Sports, Hayward is likely to remain in Utah at least for the foreseeable future. The Jazz won 51 games last season and defeated the L.A. Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. While they were summarily swept by the eventual NBA champs, the Golden States Warriors, the way the Jazz performed throughout that series suggests that the team still has a lot of upside. Hayward is already comfortable in Utah, and with Rudy Gobert entering his prime, the Jazz would be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.
The Miami Heat can offer the versatile wing a 4-year max contract, and a chance to avoid the Warriors in the playoffs. That is until they meet in the NBA finals. And the NBA finals should be the final destination for the Heat if they manage to lock up both Blake Griffin and Gordon Hayward in the offseason. With Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside already under long-term contracts for the Heat, and if the Heat persuades Blake Griffin to take his talents to south beach, it would make a lot of sense for Hayward to join forces with the Heat and form the NBA’s next superteam. Also, Pat Riley and the Miami Heat have a penchant for finding gems where some teams see only bronze so it stands to reason that they would have a relatively deep bench in the years to come.
Again, the Boston Celtics are in the conversation for landing a major superstar in the NBA. Like the Miami Heat, the Celtics have the cap space to sign Hayward. However, the Celtics have the deeper roster and adding Hayward into the fold would only make Boston stronger. In addition to being a superior scorer and defender, Hayward would be able to help out in the rebounding department, something the Celtics have historically struggled. Also, Hayward would fit right in in Brad Stevens’ system. With a relatively young core including Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Al Horford, Kelly Olynyk, and rookie Jayson Tatum, adding Hayward to a team that clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference gives Boston a team who, on paper, could pose a challenge to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It’s going to be a busy summer for both Blake Griffin and Gordon Hayward. While the Clippers and the Jazz are expected to do everything within their powers to make Griffin and Hayward stay, the fact that these franchises could lose a vital cog in their plans would be enough for its executives to have some sleepless nights. One thing is for sure though, wherever Griffin and Hayward end up playing next season, those teams are going to get their money’s worth.
[Featured Image by Harry How/Getty Images]