Report: Blake Griffin opts out, becomes a free agent

Quite possibly to no one's surprise, the Los Angeles Clippers star big man Blake Griffin has opted out of the final year of his current deal to become a free agent.

With Griffin's current deal, which would have paid him over $21 million next season, now behind him, Blake is eligible for the tier-two max contract, which pays players with six to nine years experience approximately $30 million per year. Griffin's durability and even character have been called into question in recent months, after a series of injuries - some of which stem from a fight with a team trainer - caused him to miss significant parts of the last three seasons.

It is perhaps unfair to treat Blake - who has averaged precisely the same number of games per year over his career as Anthony Davis - as an injury risk simply based on the injuries themselves, as they are to date unrelated. Yet, it's understandable that the tendency itself has raised enough eyebrows to bestow nicknames like "Break" Griffin, and given pause to potential suitors as they mull to whom and how much to pay potential starters in this summer's relatively weak market for major players.

However, that fact can be mitigated with artful deal construction, whether by simply convincing the big man to sign for less, shorter years, or perhaps with built-in performance bonuses tied to the number of games played per season to mitigate the financial risk. Team or mutual options are another tool which might also be used to soften the blow of Griffin ages less well than some hope.

Blake's potential fit with Boston is actually arguably better than some might have envisioned based on the likely future roster construction of the Celtics after taking multiple scoring wings in this year's draft. In many ways, Griffin has evolved considerably from being a hyper-athletic dunking machine to something closer to that found in recent Boston signee Al Horford. Both are very mobile, shooting bigs who space the floor and can defend down to the three and even some slower twos, and most importantly, are two of the best passing bigs in the league. The combination of spacing, switchable defense, and passing would make for a formidable two-way threat.

While rumors regarding the potential interest in signing an extended Paul George may signal a preference for a Gordon Hayward signing, Celtics fans should not turn their nose at a Blake Griffin signing based on his injury history outright. While certainly a legitimate worry, perhaps enough to impact the final cost of a deal, it's worth remembering that the shrinking cap has made it especially onerous for teams to carry out their intended offseason plans, Boston among them. We all have ideas about what the perfect team might look like - it's a GM's job to put together the best team that actually is possible.

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