By Matt Citak
When Blake Griffin signed his five-year, $171 million contract with the Clippers during the offseason, it wasn’t hard to predict that it wouldn’t take long for the Clippers to regret the deal. There is no doubt that Griffin is a good player- the 28-year-old is averaging 22.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game this season. However the power forward had missed at least 15 games in each of the previous three seasons, and was coming off his second consecutive year not being named an All-Star. Yet despite all of the injury concerns that came with Griffin, the Clippers still decided to sign the former No. 1 overall pick to a five-year contract that would pay him around $35 million per season- and almost $39 million in the final year.
The thing is, Los Angeles didn’t really have much of a choice but to offer their superstar free agent the max contract last summer.
Griffin had just finished his eighth season in the league, meaning he was eligible to sign a max contract worth 30 percent of the salary cap. The forward had meetings planned with other teams, who surely would have offered him a four-year max deal, while the Clippers had just dealt Chris Paul to the Rockets. Los Angeles simply could not afford to lose their other superstar for nothing and risk its fans storming the Staples Center. So in theory, the deal made sense for both sides- the Clippers didn’t have to lose one of their superstars for nothing, while Griffin got the best possible deal.
But from a pure basketball perspective, this contract NEVER made sense for the Clippers.
As good as Griffin has been throughout his career, it would be very difficult to argue that the production he provides is worth 30 percent of a team’s salary cap. This is especially true when you consider the yearly 5-8 percent raises that kick in after each season, all while the 6-foot-10 forward gets older and his performance on the court declines. Even before receiving the max contract, it seemed as if his play was getting worse. Griffin’s last All-Star Game appearance came in 2015, which also served as the last time he earned All-NBA honors (Third Team). But if the Clippers had not offered him the max contract last summer, another team definitely would have.
And that is where the issue lies.
Despite numerous players receiving max deals each offseason, there are actually…