Blake Griffin underwent successful surgery on his left knee on Tuesday, ending his and the Detroit Pistons' seasons. The Pistons are 13-24 this season, four games out of the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference. Griffin has been a shell of his former self this season and averaged career lows in almost everything while hobbled with the knee injury. Here's Dwane Casey on what Griffin went through this season, via NBA.com:
""Blake played his heart out with basically one leg and he gave everything he could to our team. He fought a lot of pain, swelling just so he could support his teammates. I think we were in sixth place when he started experiencing the pain and swelling but he kept with it. Kept playing until he couldn't play any more. He gave everything he could to our team. We owe him a lot as far as what he gives us, the leadership he gave to the young players.""- Dwane Casey
Griffin had another surgery on the same knee last April. After this recent procedure, he's not expecting to miss any offseason training, but maybe he should. Griffin was drafted in 2009 and sat out the entire '09-'10 season after fracturing his left kneecap and eventually undergoing surgery. Sitting that year seemed to reset Griffin as he won Rookie of the Year and then played in 338 of 342 possible Clippers' regular season and playoff games over his first four seasons.
Over the next four seasons he averaged just 55 games played and got traded to Detroit. Last season seemed like a renaissance; Griffin appeared in 75 games and returned to the All-Star Game as he shot 36% from three and averaged a career-high 24.5 points per game. But then he hurt his knee, missed games down the stretch and underwent arthroscopic surgery after Detroit was eliminated from the playoffs. The Pistons also said he didn't expect to miss any offseason training then.
So maybe Griffin, who turns 31 in March, should take a little time off. It would be bad for the Pistons, who are stuck with an injured star getting paid like a max player, but it might be best for the player, depending on what he wants to do when his current 5-year, $171 million contract ends after the '21-'22 season. He has a $38 million player option in the last year of the contract, which he will likely take. That is when the Pistons might have a chance to get rid of him and send him to a team looking to clear cap space for 2022.
At the end of this deal, Griffin will be 33-years old with about $230 million in on-court career earnings and a history of lucrative endorsements. So he'll have to ask himself just how much longer does he want to put his body through the grind of an NBA season? And how much longer will his body put him through the grind? Does he want to chase rings or be a mentor somewhere during the twilight of his career? Does he just want to go into entertainment where he's also showed natural talent? Mind you, there is no wrong answer. Whatever Griffin wants to do, more power to him. He's given us so much.
That dunker from a decade ago (!) is gone, but when healthy Griffin is a decent shooter and good passer who doesn't need to rely on an otherworldly athleticism like he did early in his career. So what does he want to do when his otherworldly contract ends?