NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer are in agreement: Blake Griffin will face some form of punishment for his role in an altercation with the team's assistant equipment manager, Matias Testi, which resulted in the power forward suffering a broken right hand.
"There needs to be consequences," Ballmer said Wednesday night, according to the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez. "It's the right thing to do."
Although Ballmer denounced Griffin's actions, he reiterated the five-time All-Star is a crucial component of a Clippers core that's vying for home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
"Just remember, Blake is a key part of his team," Ballmer said, per Hernandez. "We will welcome him back."
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Ballmer's comments came shortly after USA Today's Sam Amick reported Griffin "will likely face discipline" once the NBA's investigation concludes. Amick noted that Silver spoke about the incident on a soon-to-be released episode of the NBA A to Z podcast:
I'd say from the league's standpoint, of course it's the last thing that you want to see happen. And whether it's in the NBA, or in any industry, you have one co-worker, in essence, punching another co-worker. That's a terrible thing. Blake has acknowledged that. But at the same time, I know he recognizes that there are consequences of his actions.
The Clippers have been without Griffin since Dec. 26, when a calf injury sidelined him, and the team expects the broken hand to keep him out for an extra four to six weeks.
If there's any good news for Ballmer's club, it's that the Clippers have acquitted themselves nicely without Griffin. Dating back to Dec. 26, the Clippers are 15-4. They even rattled off a string of nine straight wins from Dec. 26 to Jan. 13 with the bouncy 4 down and out.
But make no mistake about it: The Clippers need Griffin to be healthy and produce up to his elite standards if they hope to qualify for the franchise's first Western Conference Finals.
According to NBA.com, the Clippers are 1.4 points better per 100 possessions this season with Griffin on the floor. Griffin is also averaging 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game—meaning he could be the first player since LeBron James during the 2012-13 season to average at least 20 points, eight boards and five dimes per contest for a full season.
The severity of Griffin's impending punishment is unclear, but as long as the Clippers continue to rip off wins at a solid rate with him out of the lineup, they could be primed for a late-season run when he returns at full strength.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless noted otherwise.