Blake Griffin is Clippers’ top priority in free agency

Deandre Jordan, left, and the Clippers will try to keep Blake Griffin, right, from following Chris Paul out the door.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Blake Griffin now becomes the priority for the Clippers to re-sign in the wake of Chris Paul’s great escape from Los Angeles.

The Clippers have the upper hand in the talks with Griffin because they can offer more money than any other team, a five-year deal worth about $175 million. But the Clippers are hesitant to give Griffin all five years because of his health issues, according to an NBA executive who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Griffin is recovering from surgery on the plantar plate of his right big toe that could sideline him up to November and possibly December.

Still, there are at least four other teams looking to talk with Griffin and he has a visit scheduled with the Phoenix Suns on Saturday, according to an NBA executive.


The Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder also are teams that have expressed interest in Griffin.

But the most those teams can offer Griffin is $130 million over four years.

The free-agent market opens Saturday at 12:01 EDT, but teams on the West Coast can begin talking to them at 9:01 PDT. Teams can’t sign players until the moratorium is lifted July 6.

The Clippers’ top brass will have their chance to pitch Griffin and his representatives on the future of the team when they meet Friday.


Griffin’s newest teammate, Patrick Beverley, said he’ll be a part of the recruiting group to make sure the power forward stays in L.A.

Beverley was acquired from Houston on Wednesday along with Sam Dekker, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins and Kyle Wiltjer for Paul.

Beverley said he spoke with coach Doc Rivers, owner Steve Ballmer, executive vice president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank and new teammates DeAndre Jordan, Griffin, Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers and Wesley Johnson.

Beverley said he planned to arrive in Los Angeles later Thursday night.

“We got to get Blake to try and stay,” Beverley said. “We get him and we’re going to be dangerous. I’m all in for that recruitment stuff to try to get him to stay. I talked to him. He seems excited. It’s a process. I told him no matter what to enjoy the process because he deserves it.”

The Clippers also will have some financial capital to go after unrestricted free agents.

After they waived Hilliard on Thursday, according to an NBA official, the Clippers had $19.8 million in cap space and could increase that to $21 million if they waive Liggins and Wiltjer, as expected.

The Clippers could also have the $4.3-million room exception if they use the cap space.


It all means the Clippers have the cash to go after their top targets:

San Antonio’s Jonathon Simmons, Sacramento’s Rudy Gay, Denver’s Danilo Gallinari, Toronto’s P.J. Tucker, Miami’s James Johnson, Utah’s Joe Ingles and Golden State’s Andre Iguodala.

All of them are small forwards, a position the Clippers have been trying to fill with a quality player for years.

The Clippers are not expected to make an offer to guard J.J. Redick, who probably will choose between Brooklyn and Philadelphia. Redick is looking to make between $16 million and $20 million a season, said an executive.

Also, Luc Mbah a Moute declined his player option with the Clippers on Thursday and will become an unrestricted free agent, an NBA official said.

Mbah a Moute, whose deadline to inform the Clippers of his decision was Thursday, was due to earn $2.3 million next season.

The Clippers also met with free agent Chris Singleton last week.


Twitter: @BA_Turner

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