The Clippers sound confident about re-signing Blake Griffin in the wake Chris Paul going to the Rockets.
But L.A. will have competition for the star forward – from the Nuggets, Celtics (depending how their primary plan goes), Heat and Griffin’s home-state Thunder.
Royce Young of ESPN:
It’s a shame for the Thunder they backed off their plan to sign Griffin last summer, signing Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo to contract extensions, only to resume it a few months later.
Letting Adams and Oladipo hit unrestricted free agency would have given Oklahoma City an additional $22,514,699 in cap flexibility while maintaining Adams’ and Oladipo’s Bird Rights. That alone wouldn’t have been enough to offer Griffin a max salary, but dumping Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler and either Doug McDermott or Domantas Sabonis would’ve projected to get the Thunder there. In that scenario, Oklahoma City could have also exceeded the cap to re-sign Adams and Oladipo after inking Griffin.
Alas, the Thunder are now limited to dumping contributors that make the team appealing to someone like Griffin in the first place or executing a sign-and-trade. But a sign-and-trade gets complicated. Adams’ salary alone isn’t enough to return Griffin on a max, and it’s not even clear the Clippers – with DeAndre Jordan – would want Adams (though losing Griffin could initiate an even greater rebuild that includes trading Jordan). And again, the Clippers reportedly want to keep Griffin rather than go this route.
This was all foreseeable, though some surprising factors worsened the consequences of the extensions for Oklahoma City.
Griffin seemed more certain last summer to stay in L.A. The 2017-18 salary cap appeared on track to be higher. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement won’t raise cap holds for first-round picks until next year. So, Adams’ deal projects to save the Thunder just $6,425,000 over the next four years relative to a max offer sheet – a paltry sum in the face of the potential cap flexibility lost this year by extending him instead of waiting to re-sign him.
The Thunder making moves earlier than necessary and salary-cap developments turning those plans especially imprudent – where have I heard this one before?
Russell Westbrook is your NBA MVP, coming off a historic season where he averaged a triple-double.
Westbrook also could see a massive pay raise this summer. Yes, you remember correctly that Westbrook signed one last summer after Kevin Durant left, but the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that kicks in July 1 grandfathered him (and James Harden, who also signed an extension last summer) in to get the “designated veteran” max contract. That would start at about $34.7 million (if the cap is at $99 million as expected) and go up from there.
Thunder management’s first call at midnight July 1 will be to Westbrook to offer the deal, and he may well take it reports Royce Young of ESPN.
Those close to Westbrook fully expect him to take the Thunder’s offer, quite possibly at 12:01 a.m., and stabilize the franchise and present a clear road map. Westbrook signed an extension last summer and invoked the word “loyalty” for a reason. He wanted to make a statement — a public declaration — and take on the burden of leading the franchise forward.
He likes the existing roster and has a close relationship and confidence in Presti and Weaver. He has built a strong bond with head coach Billy Donovan. He knew what he signed for and, with the Thunder coming off a successful first post-Durant season and with pieces in place to improve the team, there are a lot of reasons to commit again.
If Westbrook signs this, the Thunder can get on with the business of improving this roster — which will be next to impossible. The Thunder are capped out and have to re-sign restricted free agent Andre Roberson. Sam Presti is a smart man, but his hands are mostly tied due to some of the big contracts on the roster (ones that would have been no issue if Kevin Durant had stayed). The Thunder will make moves around the edges, but it’s going to take time to do anything substantial.
If Westbrook doesn’t sign this, more than just red flags will go up in OKC — this will be sirens and flashing red lights. The Thunder will be forced to think about trading Westbrook, or finding a way to keep him happy and in house. They will basically be right back to where they were last summer.
If Westbrook signs it — and he likely will, that’s a lot of money to leave on the table — it at least gives the Thunder a clear direction. Which is about all they can hope for this summer.
Russell Westbrook is one of the biggest stars in the NBA, he’s now an MVP, and he wears Jordan Brand Nikes.
Still, it has to be a bit humbling to get a personal, signed note from Michael Jordan himself.
Which is exactly what he got on Tuesday, a congratulatory note from the GOAT.
The note said (in all caps):
I got buy first MVP award before my first ring, too… keep going!
It was then signed by Jordan.
Westbrook could probably fill a second home with memorabilia from his career, but this is one he’s likely going to keep safe.
Whatever animosity there is between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook — and I don’t think it’s as much as some people want to drum it up to be — is more from the Westbrook side. He had the right to feel jilted, even if it was just business.
Monday night Westbrook won the NBA MVP award, and deservedly so after his historic season. Tuesday, Durant was congratulating the winners in the community section of his YouTube page, and that included Westbrook.
“Huge congrats to Russell Westbrook on MVP, that boy went out there and was a created player on 2k all year, F—– balled out. Gotta respect it!”
KD also had some love for his other former teammate, James Harden, who came in second in the MVP voting.
“Shoutout my boy James Harden. For 5 years now he’s taken his game to the next level, he will be an MVP one day, he’s an MVP now, he’s made so many people proud. I know this first hand, recognize what he has done for the game!”
Durant had love for everyone. Which is how he’s feeling after his bold move last summer paid off with a ring.
Tired of those videos where NBA players effortlessly swat kids’ shots?
Victor Oladipo and this kid help provide an alternative: