Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Blake Griffin: Pistons ‘made me realize what a franchise looks like’

2 Comments

When the Clippers traded Blake Griffin to the Pistons, he said he was just happy to play for a team that wanted him. Detroit winning its first four games with him only added to the good feelings.

But now that the Pistons have stumbled out of the playoff race, how does Griffin – a presence in commercials and show business – feel about going from L.A. to Detroit?

Griffin, via Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

“If I wasn’t happy with where I was at or excited to be here, it would take a little bit longer,” Griffin said. “But as soon as I got here to Detroit, the franchise, the way they go about taking care of the players, the way they do everything, is first-class, so that makes the transition much easier. [Coach] Stan [Van Gundy] and the whole staff has been awesome. I’m not looking back.

“I haven’t put much thought into it, to be honest. I’ve been so focused on making this transition and [adjusting] to this change that I haven’t put that much thought into it. I never want to be in a place where I’m not wanted. Coming here made me realize what a franchise looks like.”

Griffin, via Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

“This is a franchise that has a history of winning and a history of championships,” Griffin told The Detroit News. “They just do little things — not to throw shade at any other franchise — but you notice these little things when you come here. It’s good to see the culture from the past, from the Bad Boys era and from the Goin’ to Work era, has carried over and people still talk about those guys.

“When you have examples like that that set the standard for the franchise, it makes a difference to me.”

Despite Griffin’s denial, it’s hard not to read these comments as throwing shade at the Clippers.

They won only one playoff series in Los Angeles prior to drafting Griffin and were a laughingstock for decades. It takes time to eradicate their organizational deficiencies. (Ousting Donald Sterling went a long way.)

“Coming here made me realize what a franchise looks like” really stands out. It’d be tough to convince me Griffin didn’t know that’d come across like a shot at the Clippers and said it anyway.

Griffin clearly doesn’t want to completely blast the Clippers publicly. But he also seems comfortable with a slight dig here and there.

Report: Lakers eager to use LeBron James at center flanked by top four young players

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Why did the Lakers, after securing LeBron James, sign Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson? Their explanation leaves plenty to be desired.

What will the Lakers do with Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma now that none of those four are being traded for Kawhi Leonard? Their plan there is far more intriguing.

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:

“We may not see this on day one, but the coaching staff is eager to see our version of the [Warriors’] Death Lineup with Lonzo [Ball], Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, [Kyle] Kuzma and LeBron,” a second Lakers executive said.

LeBron at center is a dangerous weapon. The Cavaliers showed it more during the 2017 playoffs – to positive effect.

But LeBron isn’t Draymond Green, who makes Golden State’s Death/Hamptons Five Lineup function. Green possesses a unique combination of rim protection and – through his ball-handling and especially passing – ability to get into offense quickly. LeBron isn’t as good at protecting the paint, and though he’s lethal in transition when he wants to be, he’ll be fighting years of slow-down habits.

I also wonder how much LeBron embraces the physical toll of playing center. The Lakers have only JaVale McGee, Ivica Zubac and Mo Wagner at the position. Are they banking on LeBron playing there a significant amount during the regular season?

LeBron would likely accept the role more enthusiastically in the playoffs. But Ball, Hart, Ingram and Kuzma will be tested – at least initially – by the heightened level of play. I’d be wary of overly relying on that lineup.

But this is the best way for the Lakers to get talent on the floor and overcome spacing concerns. I’m absolutely excited to see it in action. Whatever concerns I have about it are only multiplied with other potential Lakers lineups.

Report: Nuggets lottery pick Michael Porter Jr. undergoes another back surgery

Getty Images
3 Comments

Michael Porter Jr. underwent back surgery in November, missed nearly his entire freshman season at Missouri then slipped to No. 14 in the draft amid injury concerns.

The Nuggets have been noncommittal about their plans for Porter, but they’ve given an eyebrow-raising update.

Nuggets release:

Michael Porter Jr. has undergone surgery of the lumbar spine at The Carrell Clinic in Dallas, Tex. The Procedure was performed by Dr. Andrew Dossett. There is no timetable for his return to basketball participation.

Porter is a talented forward with the length and skill to make a major impact as a scorer.

But, as this latest surgery underscores, drafting him carried terrifying risk. Denver will have to bear that for a while.

Report: Dirk Nowitzki to re-sign with Mavericks for $5 million

Abbie Parr/Getty Images
2 Comments

Dirk Nowitzki is set to play his 20th season – breaking Kobe Bryant’s record for most seasons with a single franchise and tying Kevin Garnett, Robert Parish and Kevin Willis for most seasons in the NBA.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks declined Nowitzki’s $5 million team option, but he was never signing elsewhere. He was either going to retire or play for Dallas.

Once he decided to return, the only question was money.

The Mavericks declined Nowitzki’s option to maximize their flexibility for upgrades, namely signing DeAndre Jordan. Once Yogi Ferrell agreed to an absurdly team-friendly contract, Dallas had enough cap space left to give Nowitzki his team-option amount. If necessary, he would have taken the $4,449,000 room exception.

Nowitzki has had a great career, and this could be his farewell tour. But he also remains a helpful rotation-level player. Though he’s a defensive liability, his outside shooting as a big goes a long way toward floor spacing.

Report: Mavericks re-signing Yogi Ferrell for less than qualifying-offer salary with second year unguaranteed

Abbie Parr/Getty Images
2 Comments

The Mavericks expected Yogi Ferrell to accept his qualifying offer.

Turns out, they’ll keep him on an even more team-friendly deal than the one he could have unilaterally signed.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

This is an awful deal for Ferrell.

As reported, he’ll earn between $2,548,077 and $2,760,417 next season. That range is less than his qualifying offer – which would have paid him a fully guaranteed $2,919,204 next season.

That reduction is acceptable if Ferrell got something in exchange – but he gave Dallas the concession by adding an unguaranteed second year. If he plays well, the Mavericks will keep him at a cheap salary. If he doesn’t, they’ll waive him for no cost. They have all the control.

The promise of the backup shooting guard job is probably just lip service. Teams don’t stick by that if the player struggles. If he produces, he would have gotten the job anyway.

Dallas has plenty of point guard types – Dennis Smith Jr., Luka Doncic, J.J Barea, Jalen Brunson and Ferrell. Rick Carlisle uses two of them simultaneously often enough that Ferrell should land in the rotation. But it’s far from a lock.

With this deal, Ferrell is taking all the risk and the Mavericks are getting all the upside.