The Nets Looking at Strength in Numbers After Signing Blake Griffin

By Leah Mize 

Blake Griffin signed a veteran contract with the Brooklyn Nets for the remainder of the 2021-2022 NBA season on Monday, March 8. According to an article published on ESPN, the six-time NBA all-star started this season with the Detroit Pistons but became an unrestricted free agent after buying out the rest of his contract. The move is another in a series of decisions made by general manager Sean Marks. 

“The Nets expressed interest, [and the] interest was mutual,” Blake Griffin expressed in an interview with The New York Post. “[I] felt like they needed another big, another guy to facilitate, fill these gaps they have. Anytime you have these types of players, you need guys around them to relieve that pressure. Then for me, it’s about playing meaningful basketball, playing in the playoffs, and contending for a championship. Those were my main reasons.”

In January, the Nets received James Harden (in addition to a 2024 second-round draft pick), a shooting guard who’s hailed as the best in the NBA, as part of a three-team trade between Houston Rockets and the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

The Nets’ roster boasts Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Blake Griffin.; four of the league’s best players. It increases the expectations and standards the Nets have set for themselves in terms of their projected postseason success. 

This conglomeration of highly talented players is similar to when Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh joined forces in Miami to lead the Heat to two NBA championship titles in 2012 and 2013 during the four years they spent playing together in South Beach. The “Big Three” era in Miami was successful for the franchise and energized the market, which is likely the outcome the Nets organization is aiming to have for themselves. 

Griffin was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2009 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. He played for the Clippers, most notably during the Donald Sterling controversy in spring 2014, until January 2018, when he was traded to the Detroit Pistons alongside center Willie Reed and power forward Brice Johnson. 

“I wish we could have traded Blake and gotten some assets back, but it seems like there was no market for a trade,” said David Reamer, an associate professor of English at UT and a Detroit sports fan. “He was owed too much money and had too many injuries. It would have been unacceptable to attach young players or draft picks to get rid of his contract.”

Before officially signing with the Nets, Griffin was rumored to have talked to the Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, and the Portland Trail Blazers. It remains to be seen if Griffin can provide what the Nets want. He has suffered multiple legs and knee injuries that have sidelined him for stretches of his career. 

Sean Marks has a vision for the organization’s future, including an NBA title and soon. He’s managed to sell it enough to convince Durant and Harden to reunite, Irving, and now Griffin on it so far. 

“In the end, while few fans are sorry to see him go, I don’t think many people are mad at him personally,” said Reamer. “Blake’s legacy is mixed: He had a massive contract and was hurt too often, but players and fans liked him, and he brought a glimmer of hope that Detroit could attract a superstar player.”

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