Apparently, Blake Griffin wasn’t scared off by the Celtics’ current drama. In fact, it sounds like the organization’s culture, at least as it surrounds actual on-court basketball, is one of the reasons he joined the Green.
Griffin is a far cry from the six-time All-Star he was earlier in his career. He’s not even really that good anymore, at least not relatively speaking. The 33-year-old played in 56 games last season and averaged just 6.4 points per game on a Nets team that had its own issues.
But he presumably had at least a few options, and he chose to come to Boston. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of on-court impact he makes (if any), but it’s a credit to Wyc Grousbeck, Brad Stevens and most importantly players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown that they have been able to build something that looks like it will be able to withstand the Ime Udoka mess.
The Celtics officially announced the Griffin signing Monday, and he talked about his decision to join the team. Griffin said that not only was he lured by the idea of joining an organization with as much history as Boston, but he couldn’t help but appreciate what has been building for the last few years.
“Beyond that, just the core they have. They have Brad in the front office now, the coaches they have — I actually played against (interim head coach Joe Mazzulla) — it’s the young core and foundation they laid last year sets the table. This is an opportunity I couldn’t pass,” he told reporters, as seen in a video from NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg.
Griffin spent the last season-plus in Brooklyn, so he got an up-close-and-personal look within the division of how the Celtics progressed. Boston went from a team that finished .500 and got waxed in the first round by Griffin’s Nets to a team that won 51 games and swept the Nets on the way to the 2022 NBA Finals.
“They’re extremely disciplined. I thought from when we played the Celtics two years ago, they were banged up, but they took a big step as far as maturation and just how seriously they took the game,” Griffin explained to reporters. “Not that they didn’t before, but to be a really good team ? you’ve gotta take some steps, and they took those steps where it didn’t really seem like they cared how they got it done. They just got it done. They were willing to outplay you, out-hustle you. When a team with this much talent has that mentality, that’s what makes them tough.”
This also feels rather telling from Griffin:
As an outsider, Griffin easily could have seen what happened with Udoka and been scared off. A coach being suspended for an entire season under shady premises a week before training camp is unprecedented and certainly isn’t setting an encouraging tone for the campaign.
But it’s a credit to those left picking up the pieces amid the Udoka scandal that what they have built and what they maintain — even without their head coach — is still attractive enough to bring proven veterans into the fold to chase a championship.