Philadelphia 76ers: Blake Griffin may not want to reunite with Doc Rivers

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

Anytime an NBA player voices their dissatisfaction, gets linked in trade conversations, or is explicitly pulled from a lineup to “play the younger guys” you’re going to see someone, somewhere, link them to the Philadelphia 76ers.

“What? Andre Drummond wants out of Cleveland? You know, the Sixers could really use a good backup center. Let’s package together the requisite players to make the money work and make a deal!”

Does it get a tad tiring to see the Sixers hypothetically linked to Kyle Lowry, Nemanja Bjelica, and every player in between? It can be, but honestly, when your team is as top-loaded and bereft of viable bench scoring options, what are you going to do? The Sixers have proven they can’t manufacture more than 15-25 points off the bench when Shake Milton isn’t available, and even when he is good to go, the team’s a bad Danny Green game away from losing a shootout versus similar talents (more on that here).

So naturally, when a player becomes available at a position of need, some folks are going to put two and two together and suggest a potential pairing to finally fix the Philadelphia 76ers, right? Especially when that player is a household name and multiple-time All-Star?

Well, let’s just say not all preexisting relationships are good ones.

Doc Rivers might hurt the Philadelphia 76ers’ chances of signing Blake Griffin.

More from Section 215

Once upon a time – aka 2017 – Doc Rivers sold Blake Griffin on a Hall of Fame career.

Since being acquired from the Boston Celtics for an unprotected 2015 first-round pick, Rivers’ Lob City squads gave Hollywood hoop heads a viable alternative in a landscape typically canvased in Purple and Gold, and, at least at the time, the Los Angeles Clippers’ brass wanted to keep that group together.

Griffin, the first overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, had rapidly developed into the face of basketball in Los Angeles and was gearing up to become a very, very, very rich man with his third contract with the Clippers. His Lob City frontcourt-mate DeAndre Jordan had just agreed to a four-year, $87.6 million extension in 2015, and the near-universal assumption was that Chris Paul, the NBA’s reigning “point god” and certified floor general, would do the same when his contract expired in 2018.

And, in a move tailor-made for the silver screen, the Clippers went big to prove to Griffin that Los Angeles is where he wants to be long-term.

We’re talking a two-hour soiree that featured testimonials from his teammates, speeches on what Griffin meant to the franchise, and even a performative premonition of things to come with a number 32 jersey hoisted into the rafters of the Staples Center.

I mean, it is Hollywood after all; what are you going to do?

Griffin ultimately agreed to a five-year contract worth a then-franchise-record $171.2 million – albeit one that erroneously did not feature a no-trade clause – and was shipped off to Detroit for a package headlined by Tobias Harris some six months later.

To paraphrase the great Michael Jeffrey Jordan, Griffin took the trade personally.

Though it wasn’t technically Rivers who pulled the trigger on the deal, he’d lost player personnel control to his longtime coworker Lawrence Frank shortly after signing the ex-OU power forward to his five-year contract, Griffin still harbored hard feelings towards his former team, going so far as to screen the coach’s calls in the immediate aftermath of the trade.

Griffin also quite literally ran away from Clippers owner Steven Balmer during warm-ups before his first game back at Staples post-trade, which isn’t particularly relevant but is incredibly funny nonetheless.

See what I mean? That’s good stuff.

Now to be fair, Griffin isn’t the same player he was in 2017. He’s averaging less than 13 points and six rebounds per game while knocking down a brutal 31.5 percent of his half dozen shots from beyond the arc a game. There isn’t a team in the NBA who would look at Griffin’s current contract, which extends into 2022 with a player option worth $38.9 million, as a plus asset and even fewer who would actively trade for the former All-Star without receiving serious capital from Detroit to sweeten the deal.

Assuming the two parties are able to agree to an unprecedented buyout – which is far from a guarantee and would require the OU product to leave nearly $40 million on the table – there aren’t too many teams who would outright fight to secure Griffin’s services, as described by another Doc Rivers prospect, Kendrick Perkins on KJZ.

Andre Drummond? More in-demand than Blake Griffin? Did you ever think you’d see the day?

Would I personally like to see Blake Griffin don a red, white, and blue jersey once more and supercharge the Sixers’ playoff run? Oh my goodness, yes. Could you even imagine how crazy it would be to trot out the team’s current starting five and then rotate in Griffin at power forward? It would be aggressively watchable, incredibly goofy, and make some opposing fans lose their darn minds.

But will it happen? *sigh* no, probably not.

As much as I would love to cover Blake Griffin, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid on the court at the same time, if for no other reason than the buzz it would generate, the trio just doesn’t fit together even if he had a glowing relationship with River, which he unfortunately does not.

Griffin isn’t a plus ball handler, isn’t a plus-multi-position defender, and isn’t a knockdown 3 point shooter. Outside of literally being 6-foot-10, which is a rarity for the Sixers outside of their starting five and Dwight Howard, there isn’t much Griffin brings to the table that the Sixers don’t already have or would like to add to their oeuvre.

Furthermore, it’s not like Griffin has one aspect of the game that’s he’s particularly elite at; not at this point in his career anyway.

While older ex-superstars can remain viable assets on teams contending for their scoring (Carmelo Anthony), rebounding (Dwight Howard), and shooting (Ray Allen), Griffin’s biggest asset right now is his name recognition. With his high-flying days mostly behind him, Griffin is an average post scorer, an average rebounder, and an average shooter. At best, a team could look to Griffin to provide some frontcourt playmaking off the bench, but the Sixers already have an elite 6-foot-10 passer who plays 33.4 minutes of action a night.

Next. Please get well soon, Shake Milton. dark

No, with similarly contending teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets looking for starting help in their respective front courts, the idea of Blake Griffin accepting a one-year contract for the Philadelphia 76ers’ mid-level exception is rather unrealistic, especially if he still harbors ill-will towards the team’s head coach. With a slew of interests off the court ranging from acting, to comedy, and even venture capitalism, the idea of winning an NBA championship probably isn’t Griffin’s number one priority at this stage of his life and would likely prioritize landing in a viable media market where he can appear on Get Up! or The Jump over weathering the snow for a chance to win a ‘chip in the cathedral of South Philly Sports, the Wells Fargo Center.