Blake Griffin’s mission in coming to Brooklyn isn’t about padding stats or winning slam-dunk contests, and certainly not about making money. He left cash on the table in Detroit to join the Nets for one reason.
“My only goal is to help win a championship,” Griffin said in a Q&A with fans on Bleacher Report Live’s app. “Some years it’s more realistic than others. But that’s why I came to Brooklyn.”
Griffin officially came to Brooklyn on Monday, after having been bought out by Detroit. The veteran power forward sacrificed $13 million to leave the Pistons, for whom he averaged 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20 games this season.
James Harden — who rejected a two-way, $103 million extension from Houston to join the Nets — said that move showed just how serious Griffin is about earning a championship.
“Yeah I’m sure he wants to win, if he passed up on money to obviously stay in Detroit,” Harden said. “He wants to win and he wants to have an opportunity to play meaningful minutes and I’m assuming that’s one of the reasons why he came.”
Griffin also came because — since trading away Jarrett Allen — the Nets have become a contender with dire front-court depth needs. After forward Kevin Durant and center DeAndre Jordan, the only proven big man is Jeff Green, and he’s undersized to play center.
There are minutes to be had with the Nets, and a role to fill.
“They have a need for a 4-man,” Griffin said. “I’ve always had a lot of respect for Steve Nash and all the guys that they have there. [General manager] Sean Marks has done a great job there. It was a tough decision and I wanted to be on a team that was contending.”
The Nets qualified well before the addition of Griffin. Adding James Harden in January to team with Durant and Kyrie Irving has made them an NBA Finals favorite.
Griffin had joined Jordan on the Clippers from 2011-17, forming Lob City. And he played alongside Bruce Brown the past two seasons in Detroit. He pointed to Brown’s presence as another selling point.
“We go way back,” Griffin said. “Anybody who you’re that familiar with it always makes it easier. That definitely played a part.”
Marks not only landed Griffin, but did it on a $1.22 million veteran’s minimum deal. Holding onto both the mid-level exception and disabled player exception suggests targets for the trade deadline on March 25 or buyout deadline on April 9. Names such Andre Drummond, Otto Porter Jr. and J.J. Redick will be mooted.
Either way, for now the Nets have Griffin.
Granted, after 2019 knee surgery he’s not the skywalker who averaged 24.5 points two seasons ago in his sixth All-Star campaign, or jumped over a Kia in the 2011 Slam Dunk contest. He dunked 1,005 times with the Clippers, but just 55 times with the Pistons — none this season.
But he provides passing (averaging 3.9 assists), size (6-foot-9, 250 pounds) and smarts that will play well off the Big Three.
“Obviously we know the athletic and high-jumping Blake, but I think these last couple years he’s knocking down the 3-ball a little bit better, ballhandling is a lot better and he can be a great contribution to this team,” Harden said. “We’d be more than welcome and excited to have him on our Brooklyn Nets team.”
Asked if he’d be taking any more lobs, Griffin replied only, “We’ll see …”
Even if he doesn’t, his brawn and basketball brain will suffice.