Veteran forward Blake Griffin has agreed to a one-year, fully guaranteed deal with the Boston Celtics, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The 33-year-old Griffin, who had spent the last season-and-a-half with the Brooklyn Nets, was still a free agent as training camps opened across the league.
The Celtics suffered two major frontcourt injuries prior to the season. Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL while playing for Italy in a FIBA World Cup qualifier and will likely miss the entire season, while Robert Williams III underwent surgery on his troublesome knee and is expected to miss at least 8-12 weeks.
Heading into camp, Al Horford and Grant Williams were the Celtics' only true frontcourt options who saw significant time last season. Luke Kornet is expected to play a bigger role in Williams' absence, but he only appeared in 12 games last season and it's unclear whether he can step into a bigger role. Former first-round pick Mfiondu Kabengele signed a two-way contract with the team in the summer, while Noah Vonleh and Luka Samanic were invited to training camp; Kabengele showed flashes in the summer but is a question mark, while Vonleh and Samanic may not even be on the team.
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All of which meant the Celtics needed some help in the frontcourt. Even more so considering they signed Gallinari in free agency in large part because they wanted to ease Horford's burden. The 36-year-old was tremendous last season, but he played 92 games and 2,820 minutes between the regular season and playoffs. They need to ease him through the regular season in order to have him at his best in the playoffs again, and that became a much tougher task after the injuries to Gallinari and Williams.
Griffin, even at this stage of his career, will offer new head coach Joe Mazzulla a veteran option who can eat up minutes in the regular season and help spare Horford. How effective he'll be remains to be seen, however. The six-time All-Star averaged 6.4 points. 4.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists on 42.5 percent shooting from the field and 26.2 percent from 3-point land over 56 games last season. At one point he was struggling so much that Nets head coach Steve Nash not only took him out of the starting lineup but stopped playing him entirely.
But even if he may be bordering on washed status (or is perhaps already there), the benefit of an experienced player like Griffin is that you can count on a high baseline of competance. He'll work hard, compete on the boards, keep the ball moving and maybe help space the floor if he can find his shot again. Plus, adding another veteran presence to the locker room cannot hurt given everything this team has gone through in the past few weeks.