There's an NBA lockout in case you hadn't heard, and as such, it seems like I'm reduced to writing about things that other guys write about and then when other guys write about that I have to write about that also. At least I have something to write about, right?
This all started with a Eric Pincus post on HoopsWorld, invoking/implying the possibility of Blake Griffin being a free agent in 2014 just when the Lakers would be looking for a new super-duper-star. I written about these things before, and I wrote about it again. Such speculation about Griffin involves ignoring common sense, precedents and history. But sure, it's fun.
Still, there are those that feel it's not so remote a possibility that Blake Griffin might decline a maximum contract extension in 2012, then eschew maximum offer sheets from other teams in 2013, instead opting for the Qualifying Offer, just so that he can fast track his exit from Clippertown (aka Sterlingville).
Presenting the case inside of ClipsNation is citizen swamigusto, making some very strong (if depressing) arguments in the comments section of the last post.
B. Sign the QO, hold off for one year, losing all that money (while raking in his endorsement money from Kia, Nike, and Subway - I'm sure he's just scraping by during this year), and then enter free agency where not only does he get the biggest deal he can earn under the new system, but he gets to choose who he plays for. I mean, who would want that? (Say hi to every member of free agency over the past year. The goal is no longer to have the cake, it's to have it, eat it, and get to order what color the frosting is and how long the fork is.) He can go contend. He can team up with a superstar or a good team. He can stay in a huge market. He can go to play for a coach he believes in.
I went ahead and replied to Matt's HP post, the bulk of which I'll copy here in the interest of doing less typing:
Not sure if you read the piece I wrote for SBNation LA back in January (circa the Ziller quote above). I won't repeat all of those arguments other than to say that no player has ever turned down a max extension. Not one.
You are absolutely correct, though, that none of those guys were being offered max extensions from Donald Sterling and I agree that if ever there were a game-changer, that's it. It's worth noting however that Elton Brand didn't have the foresight (if you want to call it that) to take a QO and get out of Sterlingtown ASAP - he signed Miami's offer sheet, which the Clippers matched. (And yes, it is just stupid to be talking nitty gritty details of a dead CBA when there's every possibility that the rules will change, but what the hell else do we have to do?)
I also think there's a factor here that people ignore in this discussion. Griffin has been a Clipper for two seasons. He's not behaving as if he's in hell. In fact, it was Griffin and other Clippers who launched a mini NBA summer league for Las Vegas next month. I think it's human nature to bond with your team and your fans, and I think it's in the nature of truly exceptional athletes to believe that they can change a team's culture. What makes a bigger legacy - Griffin leading the Clippers to prominence, or Griffin playing second fiddle to Durant in OKC? Mega stars don't think like you and me.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I'll just admit up front that I was wrong on this count about LeBron. I never thought he'd go to Miami because of Wade's stature there. I can take some solace in saying that maybe I was right and he should not have, but clearly I was wrong in thinking that he wouldn't do it.)
Last thing - I think it's important to bear in mind that (under current CBA rules, it's all I have) it's not one year of risk for Griffin, as you imply above - it's two full seasons. From extension (he'll be eligible in July of 2012) to unrestricted free agency (at the earliest in July 2014 if he goes the QO route) that's two seasons. For a player who has already lost an entire season to injury, leaving $80M or so on the table for two seasons is a mighty big risk.
I would like for the lockout to end now, please.