Blake Griffin Rumors: Knicks 'Will Pass' on Veteran PF After Pistons Release

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2021

Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin brings the ball up court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

The New York Knicks reportedly won't be among the teams trying to sign power forward Blake Griffin following his buyout agreement with the Detroit Pistons.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reported the Knicks "will pass" on Griffin because they want rookie Obi Toppin to remain an active member of the frontcourt rotation.

Griffin quickly attracted interest from several top contenders after securing his departure from Detroit on Friday.

Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat all expressed interest. The Nets are viewed as the "leaders" to sign the six-time All-Star, per Shams Charania and James Edwards III of The Athletic.

The 31-year-old Oklahoma native isn't the high-impact player he was during his peak with the Los Angeles Clippers, averaging just 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20 games for the Pistons this season, but he could provide valuable frontcourt depth to a title hopeful.

"I am grateful to the Pistons for understanding what I want to accomplish in my career and for working together on the best path forward," Griffin told ESPN last month, when he agreed to sit out games until a resolution was found for his future.

With the 2011 NBA Rookie of the Year chasing a championship and the Knicks balancing this year's playoff push with a continued focus on the future, Griffin landing in New York never seemed like the right fit.

Toppin, the eighth pick in the 2020 draft, didn't make a major impact during the first half of his rookie season. He averaged 4.7 points and 2.5 rebounds across 27 appearances.

He's playing a modest 12.7 minutes per game behind All-Star Julius Randle at power forward, and Knicks president Leon Rose doesn't want to bring in a more proven reserve who would push the University of Dayton product even deeper on the bench, per Berman.

New York may still make a couple of moves in the weeks ahead before the March 25 trade deadline, but the additions are more likely to come on the wing and in the backcourt.

The Knicks entered the All-Star break fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 19-18 record.