Blake Griffin understands he and Bruce Brown were in two different Nets free-agency buckets.
On one hand, Brown felt disrespected the Nets never offered him a contract extension after a breakout season in Brooklyn.
He told The Denver Post the Nets said they’d re-sign him during the off-season, only to trade for Royce O’Neale and leave him hanging when free agency rolled around. Brown eventually signed a two-year deal with the Denver Nuggets worth $13.5 million.
On the other hand, Griffin’s better playing days had passed him. Long gone are the high-flying, rim-rocking and stat-stuffing games that made him a fan favorite during his stint with the Los Angeles Clippers.
“I don’t think my situation and Bruce’s situation were quite the same,” Griffin told The Daily News. “I was planning on waiting a little bit before I signed, but then this opportunity came up.”
By the time last season ended, ex-Nets head coach Steve Nash deemed Griffin virtually unplayable. The rationale was Griffin’s inability to hit a three-point shot made him an offensive liability, plus his dwindling athleticism in a league only getting younger and faster made it difficult to justify extended minutes.
Griffin got the hint.
“I had felt last year I didn’t play much at the end,” Griffin told The News. “So I thought maybe that had run its course. If you don’t play towards the end of the season, I don’t know that a team necessarily likes you. That’s kind of why I didn’t really think too much about it.”
That reality was a tough pill to swallow: Once a lock to play 30-plus minutes, Griffin raked in DNP’s at a higher rate than any prior point in his career. Many veterans have faced this moment, and for a large majority, it is the end of the road.
Griffin wasn’t sure his NBA career was going to extend another season. There was a chance he would be alongside Dwight Howard, Hassan Whiteside and DeMarcus Cousins: former dominant NBA big men who now find themselves out of the league and, in Howard’s case, playing the superstar role against lesser competition overseas.
“You never know in this league,” Griffin said. “So I just wanted to give it another go. This seemed like a good situation and it has been.”
Griffin admitted he waited as long as he could to hear back from the Nets before signing a deal with the Celtics.
In his first game back at Barclays Center since switching teams, the Nets gave Griffin a video tribute thanking him for his two seasons in Brooklyn in the first half. He said he wasn’t expecting it and was pleasantly surprised by the ovation he received from both Nets and Celtics fans.
“It’s cool, man. I enjoyed my time here,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of great relationships in that locker room and appreciate the gesture.”
Griffin said he’s happy to be contributing to a championship contending team once again. He plays third string center on a Celtics team with loads of front court depth but knows his number can be called at any moment.
“Honestly it’s just another chance to play meaningful basketball,” he said. “I got the call from them and I’ve known some of these guys for awhile, so I felt like it was a good fit.”