According to Ramona Shelburne, Blake Griffin has stated he has “strong interest in the Phoenix Suns.” It looks like the meeting will happen this Saturday when free agency kicks off. The Suns can offer Griffin a 4-year contract worth $130 mill.
As a Suns fan, this news could not come at a better time. Despite this team never getting any national media attention, it feels good to be in the conversation for a marquee player when free agency is bound to start. Phoenix has not made the playoffs since the 2009-2010 season and a move like this could make them a playoff team.
The Suns will also bring in 32-year-old veteran Paul Millsap for a visit on Sunday. The Atlanta Hawks have stated they are looking for a sign and trade to make this deal go through. Atlanta would be interested in 34-year-old, Tyson Chandler, as a part of a deal with Phoenix.
The City of Phoenix
Blake Griffin has stated that Phoenix is indeed his second favorite NBA city to visit when traveling around the world to games. Blake has lived in the west coast since he arrived on the Los Angeles Clippers back in 2009. With the loss of Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets, Griffin might not have interest returning to a team without a proven point guard, so this move could make a lot of sense for him. A lineup of Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Josh Jackson/TJ Warren, Blake Griffin and Marquese Chriss/Tyson Chandler sounds like a good lineup.
With an all-star like Blake Griffin on the open market, any team that has a chance to offer him a contract would gladly do so if they have the cap and the Suns fit the bill. They have not had a star player that would fill seats like Griffin since Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash.
The Suns have had the best training staff in the NBA for quite some time now, so Griffin could make a lot of sense here in Phoenix and have his career extended. Players like Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Hill, Steve Nash and Michael Redd are some examples. Even Channing Frye came back in the 2013 season and played all 82 games after he was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and missed the whole 2012 season. This speaks huge volume to the Suns organization and they are well respected across the league in this department. Aaron Nelson has been the Suns training staff member since the 1993 season began.
A contract signing would speed up the process for the Suns going forward. Currently the Suns have one of the youngest rosters in the league. Griffin would help mentor them and be a huge lift. Talk about an instant upgrade at the power forward position.
Scoring has never been an issue for Griffin. In 6 of his 7 pro seasons, he has at least scored 20 points a game. His career best came in 2013 when he averaged 24.1 points a game. Career efficiency has never been a problem either, currently 51.8% from the field.
Maybe the biggest pro of them all, is that it shows to the fans and team that you want to win now. A major addition to any team is a lot of fun and it creates a lot of buzz across the league. Griffin would be an awesome addition next to Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker. And it could create a domino effect for what could come next. All of a sudden, if you have attractive pieces on a team, landing another star player is much higher. For a team like Phoenix, they are not a big market, so this would be a huge step forward for more free agencies to come.
Griffin has improved his versatility to score on the offensive end greatly since his days on the Oklahoma Sooners in college and would surely help the Suns on this end. His passing ability is above average compared to other big men in the league. In his career, he averaged 4.1 assists per game and had a career high 5.3 per game back in the 2014 season. The Suns were ranked second to dead last in 2016-2017 in assists per game with 19.6, so Griffin would help the Suns more than most people think in this category.
His jump shot has progressively gotten better since he was a rookie. Before his game was more limited to using his athleticism to get to the basket and lay it in or dunk, but now Griffin has extended his offense to midrange and even three pointers. In 2016-2017, he hit 38 three pointers, which was 26 more than he hit previously in any other season.
He has the ability to spin off forwards and centers and play make which is very important with how athletic the NBA is as a whole now and can take the ball up court on fast breaks like a point guard. As a ball handler, he is exceptional for the position he plays. Whenever you have a forward that can handle the ball well, it’s only an advantage to that offense. Adding a lethal inside scorer like Griffin makes it a lot easier to create offense and space shooters.
Pretty much everyone knows the bad of Blake Griffin and that is his health. That has become a major red flag over the past three seasons in particular and he even missed his whole rookie campaign because of them.
Free throw shooting isn’t the best for Griffin but he has improved the past couple seasons. After not surpassing 66% in his first three seasons, he has averaged 73.1% from the charity stripe since 2013.
Blake has missed 83 games combined in his career in the past three seasons and that doesn’t even include the 6 playoff games in the past two seasons combined. When you pay a star max money, you need them when it matters most, this is obviously on the back of the Suns mind when they meet Saturday. Locking Griffin into a 4-year contract could be dangerous, but if any team can keep him going healthy, its Phoenix.
Another legitimate reason to stay away from Griffin is because he does not fit the timeline for the Suns, currently 28 years old. Their core is so young looking at age: Devin Booker (20), Josh Jackson (20), Tyler Ulis (21), TJ Warren (23), Dragan Bender (19), Marquese Chriss (19), Derrick Jones JR. (20), Alex Len (23). This could hurt the development for Bender and Chriss in the future because the Suns seem to really like Chriss as he started 75 games and Bender only played 43 games due to injury.
The Suns are in the mix for Blake Griffin, which is awesome news since it’s been seven years since they last made the playoffs. Bringing in Griffin has its pros and cons, but the training staff could help get his career back on track. I am in favor for the Suns signing Blake to a max contract because it could be a couple more years before we have another legitimate chance at signing a star. From what it looks like, Suns management is probably feeling the pressure and feel they need to act now before it’s too late. Blake would fit in perfectly in the Suns run and gun offense. He has plenty of other suitors in free agency, so this will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds.