Should the Celtics Trade For Blake Griffin?

December 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) moves the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
December 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) moves the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Celtics have reportedly been in talks with the Clippers to receive Blake Griffin

It’s no secret that the Boston Celtics want to add another star this summer. Despite the 2017 draft and free agency classes being loaded, the Celtics are trying to make as many splashes as they can this summer. They already went out and signed star center Al Horford, and could be on their way to forming one of the best front courts in the NBA.

According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the Celtics haven’t been in talks with the Oklahoma City Thunder about Russell Westbrook, but have talked with the Los Angeles Clippers about acquiring Blake Griffin. Deveney stated that the Clippers would want picks and a star in return so they can stay in “win now” mode.

With Boston likely not willing to give them Horford or Isaiah Thomas, the Sacramento Kings have been involved, with Rudy Gay being rumored to be a part of the trade. Gay is only under contract for this season with a player option next year. Although, he’d be cheaper to retain than Griffin, who has an early termination option, and Doc Rivers might consider Gay a star player.

That would mean Boston would likely have to add at least one of their Brooklyn picks and one of their young guards. However, Deveney noted that Boston is reluctant to giving up any, let alone both, of their Brooklyn picks. Therefore, striking up a deal could be very tricky as the Celtics 2018 pick won’t be very valuable if they acquire Griffin, and two of their 2019 picks have many protections on them.

It feels like Danny Ainge being stubborn and unwilling to offer any valuable assets for a star is a common trend this off-season. With Griffin owning the possibility of becoming a free agent next summer, there’s risk that comes with trading for him. Still, Ainge would have to feel confident that he’d re-sign with Boston if they traded for him.

With that being said, striking up a deal without one of the Brooklyn picks seems unreasonable. For one, the Clippers may look at Gay as a short-term answer, and not someone they want to build around. Giving them an expected lottery pick would give them a chance at drafting a star. With Gay, a very good player, helping their small forward depth, it would likely only take one of the Brooklyn picks to make the deal work.

The Kings are doing the Celtics a huge favor if they indeed are thinking of moving Gay. With the Clippers being extremely thin at small forward, and Paul Pierce only having a couple of years left in him, Los Angeles would have made Boston offer Jae Crowder. Instead, they can switch their focus to draft picks and another rotation player, allowing Boston to keep their core together.

If Griffin isn’t moved, it will be the five-time All-Star’s seventh season in Los Angeles. Although, with Chris Paul also owning an early termination option, and with the Clippers being heavy spenders over the past two summers, re-signing Griffin and Paul isn’t an option. They could view Gay as the scoring wing they need in their starting lineup, and with DeAndre Jordan at center, their front court wouldn’t be in shambles without Griffin.

Also, with Gay possibly being a free agent next year, it’s not a lot baggage for the Clippers if he doesn’t fit into their system. The Kings would also be able to add a young guard to their abundance of big men they drafted this year.

When it comes down to it, is Blake Griffin the missing piece for Boston?

Acquiring Griffin would turn their front court from one of the worst to one of the best in just one summer, and they’d also own one of the best starting lineups in the league, especially if they’re able to keep Avery Bradley.

Not to mention that Griffin and Horford fit together very nicely. Horford would be able to stay at center, as Griffin has spent 82 percent of his career minutes at power forward.

Offensively, Griffin’s post presence and Horford’s shooting ability will force teams to play honest with them. Unlike playing next to Jordan, teams can’t put all their focus on Griffin, or Horford will hurt them. With Griffin easily being one of the top post players in the NBA, the attention Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford attract will open even more opportunities for him. Simply put, there will be a lot more poster dunks waiting for him in Boston.

Not to mention that Griffin gives the Celtics a second big man they can run their offense through. Yes, Griffin is a phenomenal scorer – averaged at least 20 points per game in five of six seasons. However, just like Horford, he’s one of the best passing big men in the league.

Griffin owns a career average of four assists per game, and is constantly near the top in assists among big men. With Isaiah Thomas being more of a scorer than a true point guard, Griffin gives the Celtics another player they can draw up plays for. It’s rare for teams to have one great passing big men, but having two opens up a lot more opportunities.

One of Horford’s best attributes is his ability to help cover up player’s flaws. The biggest knock on Griffin is his defense and jump shot. He’s an exceptional rebounder (career 9.6 rebounds per game) and is one of the most dominant low post scorers in the game, but his jump shot has held his offense back some.

With that being said, Griffin has significantly improved over his career. After shooting under 35 percent from 16-feet and farther in two of his first three seasons, Griffin shot an incredible 40.4 percent from that range two years ago. Also, he’s consistently around 40 percent from 10-to-16 feet away. So while he’s not a stretch-four, per say, his passing ability forces defender to put pressure on him and he’s a serviceable jump shooter.

His defense continues to be a problem, though. Despite being 6’10”, Griffin has never averaged more than 0.7 blocks per game. Similar to DeAndre Jordan, Horford can act as the safety net around Griffin. A lot of his poor defensive plays go unnoticed because of Jordan’s great defensive ability, and he’d once again not have the pressure to be an All-Defensive player. Not to mention that the Celtics great defensive back court would make it that much easier on him.

More from Hardwood Houdini

When thinking of adding Blake Griffin to the Celtics, it didn’t seem like a great idea to me. I wasn’t concerned about his quad injury that restricted him to just 35 games last season, because he’s played in every game twice and 80 two other times. It was the price that Boston would have to pay for a star who isn’t a superstar.

Russell Westbrook changes teams, Griffin is a solid second option. They’re not in the same tier, but Griffin would still be a great addition. However, if Boston had to give up picks and a chunk of their core and young players, it would be a risky move, to say the least. Although, with the Kings adding Gay to the deal, adding Blake Griffin doesn’t seem as bad.

Ainge might not want to add the Brooklyn picks to the deal, but if Griffin plans to re-sign with Boston, then why wouldn’t he? Despite being all about winning now, Ainge has refused to give up future assets for players who will help them win right now.

Next: Projecting the Celtics 15 Man Roster/Depth Chart

Maybe Griffin isn’t the answer to beating the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he gets them a lot closer, and is arguably a better player than anyone they would get next summer. Ainge can roll the dice and try to build through the draft, but the Celtics have assets for a reason, and acquiring Griffin without gutting your teams seems like a match made in heaven.