How Blake Griffin Envisions Fitting In With Celtics After Signing Deal

Griffin is very open-minded about his role with Boston

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October 3

Blake Griffin isn’t the same high-flying dunk artist he was early in his NBA career.

He knows that. The Celtics presumably do, too. And that’s OK, because Griffin is open-minded about his role this season after signing a one-year contract with Boston.

“Just some stability off the bench,” Griffin told reporters Monday of how he envisions fitting in with the C’s. “They obviously have centers and Rob (Williams) and Al (Horford) that have played big minutes, and Al obviously having been in the league for 40 years now. So just some stability. Whatever they need. If Al needs a break, if Rob needs a break. Sort of just utility. I didn’t come here demanding a certain type of role. Just to fill the gaps and help this team win a championship.”

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Griffin, who will become the first player to ever wear No. 91 for the Celtics, spoke glowingly of Boston’s core and culture, which have been tested lately in wake of the Ime Udoka scandal. There’s been a lot of debate as to how the C’s will respond to their head coach being suspended for the entire 2022-23 NBA season, but Griffin still has high expectations for the team and is prepared to help wherever interim coach Joe Mazzulla deems necessary.

“I think that’s part of just understanding who you are and where you are in your career,” Griffin said of his role. “The biggest thing for me is playing meaningful basketball and playing basketball in the playoffs. And also being a part of a good group, and I think this place checks off those (boxes).”

Griffin, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, spent last season with the Brooklyn Nets, whom the Celtics swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. So, he received a firsthand glimpse of Boston’s potential, with the Celtics ultimately advancing to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

Much of the Celtics’ roster from a season ago remains intact, with Boston even adding point guard Malcolm Brogdon this summer. The need for frontcourt depth recently heightened, though, after fellow offseason addition Danilo Gallinari suffered an ACL injury and center Robert Williams underwent knee surgery that’s expected to sideline him for 8 to 12 weeks.

Enter Griffin, a 33-year-old veteran with ample experience and some defensive versatility.

“After my rookie year, I hired a shooting coach and went to work,” Griffin said, assessing his skill set now relative to his first few seasons. “And it wasn’t pretty at first, but I’m glad I put that work in so long ago because I’ve been able to expand my game a little bit more to just setting picks and rolling and doing all that. So, that’s exactly what it is — it’s evolving at every chance you get.”

All told, the Celtics don’t need Blake Griffin, six-time All-Star. They just need Blake Griffin, bench contributor.

If the latter shows up, his signing could prove a shrewd move by Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens.

“Whatever role I’m needed for now, whatever role I’m needed for later, I’ll be ready,” Griffin said.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Celtics forward Blake Griffin
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