Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin has reportedly decided to decline the $21.4 million player option in his contract for the 2017-18 NBA season and will now become an unrestricted free agent, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Griffin is one of the league’s top power forwards when healthy. He averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists while shooting 49.3 percent from the field across 61 games during the 2016-17 campaign. His performance ranked him fourth at the position in player efficiency rating, per ESPN.com.
Injuries have become a growing concern over the past few years, though.
The 28-year-old Oklahoma product was limited to 35 appearances in 2015-16 due to a partially torn left quadriceps, which he later aggravated in the playoffs, and a broken hand suffered during a scuffle with a team employee in Toronto.
He missed over a month of action this past season after undergoing right knee surgery. After returning for the stretch run, he suffered a season-ending big toe injury early in the team’s first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz.
The problem extends beyond missing games, though. While he’s remained productive when on the court, he’s shown a loss of explosiveness around the rim, which was previously one of his biggest assets.
Nevertheless, he’s been one of the pillars of the Clippers franchise since getting drafted first overall in the 2009 draft. While he didn’t want to discuss the contract situation as the season neared its conclusion, he did comment on his time in L.A., per Bill Oram of the Orange County Register (h/t the Los Angeles Daily News).
“I’ve loved my time here, absolutely,” Griffin said.
Ultimately, Griffin opted to decline the option, giving himself a chance to hit the open market. While that doesn’t mean he won’t end up back with the Clippers, it does put Los Angeles in a situation where it must start preparing a Plan B for the offseason.
There should be no shortage of interest in the talented power forward given his track record. Giving him a lucrative long-term contract would certainly come with risk, however, because his injury problems bring more high-priced bust potential into the equation.
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