With Chris Paul having been dealt to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, the success of the Los Angeles Clippers' offseason will be predicated on retaining Blake Griffin. But even if the All-Star forward re-signs in Los Angeles, the Clippers may not have him for the start of the regular season.
ESPN.com's Michael Eaves reported Griffin could be out until December with a right toe injury suffered in the Clippers' first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz. Colleague Ramona Shelburne, however, cited a source saying the Clippers believe Griffin will be ready for the start of the regular season.
Griffin, 28, missed the final four games against Utah after suffering an injury to the plantar plate of his right big toe in Game 3. The Clippers lost Game 7 at home in a contest that would, though unbeknownst at the time, be the end of the Lob City era.
The Houston Rockets acquired Paul on Wednesday in a blockbuster deal that sent Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins and Kyle Wiltjer along with a first-round pick to the Clippers. L.A. made the deal at the behest of Paul, who wanted to play with James Harden and could have left for nothing in exchange via free agency.
Paul, a nine-time All-Star, spent the last six seasons with the Clippers. His arrival coincided with the most extended stretch of success in franchise history, but the Paul-Griffin-DeAndre Jordan trio never made it past the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Griffin is expected to have no shortage of suitors in free agency, all armed with maximum contracts and arguably better chances to compete for a title. A source who spoke to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical categorized the Boston Celtics as the "biggest danger" to poach Griffin. Other teams like the Miami Heat could also entice Griffin into a change of scenery.
While his toe is a concern, injury issues shouldn't come as a shock to any team pursuing Griffin. He missed his entire rookie season due to a knee injury and has missed at least 15 games each of the past three seasons with various ailments.