Even if Griffin plans to re-sign in Los Angeles, becoming a free agent this summer allows him to make the most possible money. The Clippers can offer a five-year deal worth almost $180 million, while the rest of the NBA can sign Griffin to a four-year contract in the neighborhood of $130 million.
Griffin would have to be rather fed up with L.A. and his teammates to leave that much money on the table, yet his return to the Clippers is far from a sure thing. At least four other teams can make a serious run at the five-time All-Star.
Here are five teams that could sign Griffin this summer, ranked from his least likely to most likely landing spots.
The Wolves have a ton of cap space, a playoff-bound roster thanks to the Chicago Bulls reuniting Jimmy Butler and Tom Thibodeau, and a massive need at power forward.
Griffin loves Los Angeles, though, so we're not sure he'd want anything to do with those Minnesota winters.
But if the weather isn't a concern, Griffin and the Wolves are a match made in basketball heaven. He's already played for a hard-nosed coach, and his addition would vault Minnesota into the top four in the Western Conference.
(While we're here, the Boston Celtics are another similar fit for Griffin. Boston has slightly better talent, and the Celtics will probably make a run at Griffin, but does he really want to move from Los Angeles to Beantown?)
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That would mean moving Ryan Anderson, Lou Williams, and Patrick Beverley, which won't be an easy task. GM Daryl Morey is a wizard of packaging players to get the superstar he wants, though, so we can't write this one off.
As for Griffin's side of things, don't overlook Texas' lack of a state income tax. While that quirk doesn't always come into play, it could be the deciding factor for Griffin if the Clippers try to sign him to less than a maximum deal this offseason.
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Oklahoma City Thunder
There's a certain presumption that Griffin would love to play for the Thunder just because he's from and went to school in Oklahoma.
I don't think that perspective has much value, but independent of that speculation, the Thunder would be a fine destination for Griffin. He and Russell Westbrook would fit together better than Westbrook and KD did, although defense would be a big issue for an OKC team with both Westbrook and Griffin.
However, the truly complicating factor here is the Thunder's cap situation. The only reasonable path to adding Griffin is a sign-and-trade with Los Angeles — a move neither the Clippers nor Griffin has any real motivation to help facilitate, unless he just wants to get out of L.A.
The Heat reportedly don't plan to offer Griffin a max contract this summer despite ample cap space, but they should.
Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and the still-improving Dion Waiters would give Griffin a young, successful team to grow with through his prime, he'd have an outstanding coach in Erik Spoelstra, the Heat organization is top notch, starting with Pat Riley at the very top, and Miami offers a lot of the same creature comforts Griffin can find in Los Angeles.
Throw in Florida's lack of state income tax, like Texas, and the Heat are Griffin's best option outside of the Clippers.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers' financial advantage is simply too much to predict Griffin will end up anyone other than Los Angeles.
Jerry West & Co. can offer that fifth year and that's not all. Griffin's contract with the Clippers would pay him an average of $3 million more per season than he could earn with any other team.
More importantly, the Clips give Griffin a shot at a ring — however tiny that chance might be — unless Chris Paul plans on leaving town, too.
It's not sexy, but Griffin's best choice is to stay right where he is and pray that The Logo can work his magic on the Clippers.