Rumor: Celtics target Blake Griffin in three-team deal; want to make big move soon

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The Celtics are one of the big winners of free agency — by adding Al Horford to a 48-win roster they became arguably the second best team in the East. But they are still a step or two behind the Cleveland Cavaliers, and GM Danny Ainge is going to be aggressive in trying to land another star. Not overpaying in deals, mind you, but aggressive.

Like going hard at Blake Griffin.

That’s the guy the Celtics have in their sights, reports Sean Deveney of the Sporting News.

The likely target for the Celtics, according to front-office sources, is Clippers forward Blake Griffin. The Clippers have been weighing trading Griffin all season , and the possibility of a three-team package involving Sacramento sending Rudy Gay to the Clippers has emerged. The Celtics would give up some number of their upcoming draft picks, but opposing front-office members say they don’t want to give up either Brooklyn pick Boston can own in the next two years.

The Clippers have 31-year-old point guard Chris Paul on hand, and league sources have said that if the Clippers move Griffin — a move that Clippers coach and front-office head Doc Rivers is reluctant to make — they will want a deal that involves draft picks and a frontline star who can keep them in Western Conference contention.

Before you get too excited Celtics fans, there is this from the well-connected Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.

Sources indicate the Celtics are very much open to major moves, but while situations certainly remain fluid and they have expressed interest in Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook in the past, there have been no discussions regarding those players in quite some time.

For fun, let’s say the rumor has legs. While a lot of details need to be filled in, this deal certainly makes sense for Boston, especially if they can keep the Brooklyn pick — other GMs will demand that in a major deal. Rudy Gay has requested a trade from Sacramento and the Kings are trying to accommodate him, according to the league buzz in Las Vegas (where nearly everyone from the NBA has gathered for Summer League).

But I can’t see the Clippers pulling the trigger on this (at least as currently reported). The Clippers are the second or third best team in the West (depending on what you think of the Spurs) and in win-now mode. They have Paul, who can be a free agent next summer — any move the Clippers make needs to get them closer to a ring and make CP3 want to stay. Swapping Griffin for Gay does neither.

Also, Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer understands he is competing with the still-more-popular Lakers in a star-driven market, if the Clips move Griffin they need an A-list star back. Gay is still a good player, but he’s not that.

Still, expect a lot of Celtics rumors (particularly around Russell Westbrook, although that has complications as he will be a free agent next summer, too) and a lot of Griffin trade rumors. Just not sure this one pencils out.