Free agency has not been kind to the Los Angeles Lakers in recent years but that could change in an instant. New general manager Rob Pelinka has been adamant that the team will prioritize free agency and that they are already receiving inclinations that success could be coming soon.
Paul George has been the player most often linked to the Lakers recently but he is not set to be a free agent until 2018 and a trade would require that the Lakers send out some of their young core, potentially putting George in a no-win situation.
But another prominent player could be in the mix. According to Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, people around the NBA believe that Clippers’ forward Blake Griffin will consider the Lakers as a potential free agent destination:
That Griffin would also stay and reap the biggest payday he can seems likely, too—in theory. But more and more people around the league believe he would be open to a fresh start—perhaps with the Lakers or the Boston Celtics, who have coveted Griffin for years and would offer a new chance to win. The most intriguing fit might be if he were to go home to Oklahoma to join Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, but his interests in the entertainment industry make staying in Los Angeles a priority.
Griffin is set to be a free agent this summer, along with fellow Clippers’ players Chris Paul and JJ Redick, if he opts out of his contract which would seem to be a formality at this point. If the Clippers continue their lack of prominent success in the playoffs (they are currently the fifth seed in the Western Conference), it’s not inconceivable that Griffin will look for greener pastures. Staying in LA could be a bonus for a player who is involved in the stand-up comedy and entertainment scenes.
If Griffin does choose the Lakers in free agency, it would open up the team for more win-now moves, such as trading Julius Randle in a package for the aforementioned George.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. This could as always be a case of an agent using big-brand franchises such as the Lakers and Celtics to drive up the value on a free agent. Griffin will earn a max deal wherever he goes, but putting pressure on the Clippers to build around him could be a viable strategy for his long term goals. Griffin joining a team like the Lakers will always be unlikely due to LAL’s current status as a bottom-of-the-league team.
Nevertheless, it is an interesting proposition for a team that has been rebuilding for years and would like to jumpstart its winning ways under new leadership.