3 Instant Reactions to Blake Griffin Joining Celtics amid Robert Williams' Injury

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 30, 2022

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 8: Blake Griffin of Brooklyn Nets warms up before the NBA match between Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn of New York City, United States on April 8, 2022. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Blake Griffin (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Six-time All-Star forward Blake Griffin has reportedly joined the Boston Celtics for the 2022-23 NBA season.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that Griffin signed a one-year, fully guaranteed contract. The deal is for the veteran's minimum, per Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.

The Celtics are the 2009 No. 1 pick's fourth stop after his stints with the Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit Pistons and Brooklyn Nets.

Here are some initial thoughts following the free-agent signing:

Griffin Ticketed for Key Role amid Frontcourt Injuries

The Celtics frontcourt looked complete a month ago with Al Horford, Robert Williams III, Danilo Gallinari and Grant Williams leading the way, but injuries are already mounting.

Gallinari suffered a torn ACL while playing for the Italy national team, which could cause him to miss the entire season, and Robert Williams is expected to miss at least two months after undergoing knee surgery last week.

As a result, Boston is likely to feature more small-ball lineups with Jayson Tatum at the 4 and Horford at the 5, but Griffin gives it the option to play more traditional looks.

The 33-year-old University of Oklahoma product can fill a multitude of frontcourt roles, including as a stretch 4 or a defender of opposing 5s, and he also brings plenty of experience, including 67 postseason appearances, to the table.

That should allow him to play a fair amount of minutes, probably in the 20-25 range, as a multifaceted reserve until Williams returns.

Griffin, who averaged just 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in 56 games for the Nets last season, is no longer the All-NBA performer he was in his prime and is more of a complementary contributor.

That said, he's still a solid pickup for the Celtics at this late stage of the offseason, especially given their glaring need up front.

Celtics Taking No Chances with Championship Window Open

Boston could have tried to fill the hole left by Williams with a variety of internal options, including Luke Kornet, Noah Vonleh and Luka Šamanić.

But none of them have the proven track record of Griffin, and the Celtics are one of the NBA's top title contenders after they reached the NBA Finals last season. Playing it safe by bringing another veteran into the mix was the way to go.

That's not to say the other frontcourt reserves won't get minutes. The Celtics won't want to overextend Tatum or Horford since the franchise could have another year in which it plays more than 100 games.

Griffin's role may diminish as the frontcourt gets closer to full strength, and, barring a resurgent season, he may not crack the playoff rotation. Even if that's the case, he still makes a lot of sense as an insurance policy.

Carmelo Anthony's Search for a New Team Continues

While the Celtics signed Griffin, they were linked to another marquee name after Williams' injury: Carmelo Anthony, who enjoyed success in a reserve role for the Los Angeles Lakers last season.

Melo averaged 13.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 threes while shooting 37.5 percent from beyond the arc in 69 games. It was a sign that he completed the transition to role player after so many years as a go-to scorer.

Like Griffin, the 38-year-old forward cannot provide the impact he once did, but there's little doubt he can still be valuable during the latter stages of his Hall of Fame career.

Anthony should find a team at some point, even if he has to wait until another injury arises, but time is running out for him to land on a roster before opening night Oct. 18.