December 7, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Here’s why the Lakers probably should not sign Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin is now a free agent after he and the Detroit Pistons agreed on a buyout of the final season-plus of his contract, which was set to pay him nearly $40 million next season.

At that cost, it makes no sense for a team to make a spot for the injury-slowed former Clippers superstar. But at the league minimum? That’s a different question. And it leads to the next logical one:

Does he make sense for the Lakers?

The point is probably moot — sources have confirmed that Brooklyn appears to be the leader to gain Griffin’s employment. But for a second, let’s consider Griffin’s case to join the Lakers — and what it means for the team going forward in trades and buyout possibilities.

Let’s start with what Griffin is — a former All-NBA player who combined supreme athleticism with a bonkers work ethic, evolving skills and plenty of basketball smarts. For years, NBA insiders regarded Griffin as one of the game’s best passing big men, and even with his injury history that does not change.

He’s also gotten better as a shooter from his “all-he-does-is-dunk” days, though the last two seasons have been a total disaster. He famously hasn’t dunked in a game since 2019, so if you’re signing him to add scoring punch, he’s going to be doing it in a more grounded way, either by shooting jumpers or in the post.

So, it’s probably best to view him as more of a complimentary offensive option who can best help you as a passer. And on a team with tremendous offensive talent like Brooklyn, his smarts and passing should help that attack get even stronger.

Defensively, Griffin has never been a rim protector. And the injuries have seriously limited his mobility, making him a liability. But he makes up for some of that by being really smart and really experienced. It’s not a strength of his, but in the right situation, it doesn’t have to be a fatal weakness.

One important thing to consider — two seasons ago Griffin was awesome. He was healthy for almost the entire season and deserving of his spot back on an All-NBA team, an honor he’s earned five times. (Making All-NBA teams is really, really hard. For comparison, James Worthy made two. Reggie Miller made three).

So knowing all of that, does Griffin help the Lakers, a team that needs help protecting the rim, help shooting from the perimeter and, potentially, help running the offense for stretches when LeBron James and Dennis Schroder need a break?

Probably not.