The Detroit Pistons have made it clear that the team will refrain from playing Blake Griffin until a resolution on his future with the organization can be reached. Currently, the team is exploring both trade and buyout scenarios.
Thus far, Griffin has been linked to two teams as it pertains to a potential trade. That said, given that he’s owed $36.6 million this season and $39 million in 2021-22, the prospect of a buyout looms large.
If a buyout does occur, one team that Griffin has been connected to by multiple sources is the Los Angeles Clippers. It has been suggested by several league execs that the Clippers are plotting a big move, and this would probably be about as big of one as the franchise could muster given the current salary cap limitations it faces.
According to ESPN NBA insider Stephen A. Smith, however, if Griffin truly wants to return to the team that he began his career with, it won’t come easy.
In fact, Griffin will likely have to do something he really doesn’t want to have to do.
“I think he could go back to the Clippers and help,” Smith said.
“But guess what? In order to do that, you know what he needs to do? Apologize to owner Steve Ballmer… I don’t want to see him on the Lakers. I don’t think that’s the right fit.”
Why would Griffin need to apologize? Well, things ended quite badly between him and the Clippers.
You will recall, Griffin spent the first seven and a half years of his pro career in LA. After signing a massive five-year, $171.1 million extension ahead of the 2017-18 season, the former Slam Dunk champ was immediately traded to the Pistons shortly thereafter.
It was suggested that what really ticked Griffin off was the fact that during the free agency process the Clippers pledged to build around him. In fact, they even went so far as to hang Griffin’s jersey in the rafters in a fake retirement ceremony as a sign of their interest in keeping him with the team for the entirety of his career.
When Griffin returned to play against the Clippers as a member of the Pistons, Ballmer tried to shake his hand – but it didn’t quite work out well for him.
With Blake Griffin’s days with the Pistons nearing the end, I’m reminded how the Clippers raised his jersey in a mock retirement ceremony, signed him to a max extension & 7 months later, traded him to Detroit. A year later, Steve Ballmer wanted a handshake pic.twitter.com/adCuoZf5Xw
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) February 15, 2021
Seeing as this is a man with such a short fuse that he just this past offseason wanted to trade every single player on the roster and fire each and every coach, it’s clear why that didn’t sit well with Ballmer.
The obvious caveat in all this is that it’s unclear whether Griffin even wants to rejoin the Clippers. Moreover, if LA pulls the trigger on the big Houston Rockets mega-trade that they were connected to this week, there is no way they’d also go after Griffin.
According to at least one sportsbook, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics are far larger favorites to land his services than the Clippers. As such, this could all be moot.
Klay knows how to do Valentine’s Day right. https://t.co/Gxt1gRLTX2
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 15, 2021
But if Ballmer really does consider a potential reunion with Griffin contingent on an apology, that’d be an extremely petty move from a guy who should be bigger than that.