Report: Blake Griffin to meet with Phoenix July 1; Suns also to meet with Paul Millsap

4 Comments

With Chris Paul having been traded so he’s closer to Killen’s BBQ — and to play with James Harden — the Los Angeles Clippers are making re-signing Blake Griffin their top priority. Expect them to call him up at 12:01 Eastern on July 1 and offer him a big contract to stay in L.A (whether it is a full max is not known, there are rumors the Clippers don’t want to do a full five-year max).

The question is, does Griffin still want to stay?

He’s going to at least talk to other teams, and that will start with the Phoenix Suns, reports Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times.

To be more specific, the Suns have the cap space to offer Griffin a four-year max deal which starts at $29.7 million and will be worth almost $128 million over four years, although there are rumors that the Suns want to offer the max over fewer years (three years deal). The Clippers’ offer would start at the same base number but have larger raises (eight percent as opposed to five percent) and would total out at five years and $172 million if they maxed it out. Griffin also could ask for options after three years with either team.

According to reports out of Arizona, the Suns also are scheduled to meet with Paul Millsap as they try to land a four and speed up their rebuilding. Millsap would be in the same boat with max or near max offers.

For Griffin, both Miami and Boston also want to talk to him, but an offer would be forthcoming only if they strike out with Gordon Hayward. Other teams will call as well.

The question in Phoenix is exactly what kind of team are they building, and with what goal? They have drafted well in recent years and have Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Dragan Bender, and Marquese Chriss on the roster, suggesting they may want to develop those guys and take some time rebuilding. But owner Robert Sarver doesn’t like missing out on playoff cash giving the loyal Suns fans a chance to see their team in the postseason, so if they bring in Griffin and keep Eric Bledsoe they have a shot at the playoffs. (Although the bottom spots in the West could be tough to get next year with teams such as Denver, Minnesota, and Portland among others all scrapping for spots.)

Does Griffin want to be part of a Suns team? Is it better than the Clippers even without Paul? Or will he be patient and see what other offers come his way? He is one of the big dominoes now in free agency, and if he takes his time it could bottleneck the process.

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell wins throwback Dunk Contest with Vince Carter tribute

Getty Images
1 Comment

LOS ANGELES — The 2018 Dunk Contest went retro.

And it worked.

The throwbacks started with Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr. going quick-change to pay tribute to his father, the 1984 winner of the Dunk Contest.

Nance later had the best dunk of the night, but it wasn’t enough in the face of Utah’s Donovan Mitchell‘s strong and consistent night highlight by his throwback dunk — donning a Vince Carter Toronto dinosaur jersey and doing VC’s famed 360 dunk — which got Mitchell the 48 points he needed to hold-off Nance and win the contest. It was over.

“Growing up I was a big dunker,” Mitchell said. “I wasn’t really much of a basketball player. I just dunked and played defense, and I watched a lot of Vince’s videos. I’ve been seeing what he’s been doing all year at his age, which is incredible.

“So I figured, you know, at my size if I was able to get it, it would be a great dunk and a way to finish it, you know. And actually, funny story is I haven’t made that dunk in like half a year. I tried it in practice the past two days and tried it this morning, didn’t make it. Tried it last night, didn’t make it… But to be able to make it was why I was so excited.”

Earlier in the night, Mitchell had done another tribute worn a Darrell Griffith jersey — Utah’s Dr. Dunkenstien, who went to Louisville like Mitchell — for an off-the-side-of-the-backboard jumping over Kevin Hart dunk.

“You know, just knowing your history, I think, is the biggest thing,” Mitchell said of the throwbacks. “Just understanding where this game originated, I guess the OGs of the game, I guess you would call it. But just understanding. Even if it’s just dunking. Whether it’s dunking in the NBA in general, Darrell Griffith, we went to the same school in college. I know Darrell very well. Both got drafted by the Jazz, and he was an incredible player. To be able to pay homage to him meant a lot to me.”

For my money, Nance had the dunk of the night, his first in the Finals, a double off-the-backboard throwdown that you had to see on replay to get (it wasn’t as evident in the building what he had done until it was re-shown on the big screen).

It was a fun contest all night long.

Mitchell (the leader in the Rookie of the Year race) started it off brilliantly — he brought out a second backboard, and did a self-alley-oop off one to the other.

Larry Nance Jr. did his tribute to his father with his first dunk, and on his second one came from behind the backboard, going around the world, and threw it down hard. That got him into the Finals.

Oladipo missed all three of his dunks in the first round, which almost doomed his night. He, however, did a dunk wearing the Black Panther mask for his second dunk, which impressed.

Mitchell said he wanted to beat Dennis Smith Jr. because the Mavericks’ point guard had beaten him in dunk contests for years. Smith had one monster dunk, when he went between the legs and threw it down hard and got the full 50. It just wasn’t enough to get Smith to the Finals.

Nance started off the final round by bringing out his father again to throw an alley-oop to a windmill. Mitchell responded with a self-alley-oop to a windmill that was flat-out wicked. That got Mitchell a 50-46 lead after one round of the Finals.

Then Mitchell went to Vince Carter and “it was over.”

Larry Nance Jr. throws alley-oop to himself, throws alley-oop to himself (video)

Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES — Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. immediately motioned for the replay to be shown of this dunk. It was necessary to properly appreciate it.

Best dunk of the night.

Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest, though.

Larry Nance Jr. plays tribute to father — rock-the-cradle dunk in Suns uniform

Associated Press
1 Comment

LOS ANGELES — Back in 1984, high-flying Larry Nance Sr. won the first NBA All-Star Dunk Contest with this set of dunks — most famously a rock-the-cradle move.

Larry Nance Jr. came into the 2018 Dunk Contest and went nostalgic — all the way back to the Suns’ throwback uniform and the same dunk.

That and a good second dunk got him into the Dunk Contest finals. In that round, Nance Sr. threw an alley-oop to his son for the windmill.

Donovan Mitchell throws alley-oop to himself – off second backboard (video)

Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES – Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell set a high standard with the first slam of the 2018 dunk contest.

Very creative. Very well-executed.

Looks like all that preparation paid off.