Blake Griffin has decided to test free agency, telling the Los Angeles Clippers that he is opting out of the final year of his contract.
A person with direct knowledge of Griffin’s plans confirmed the decision to The Associated Press on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because neither the five-time All-Star nor the Clippers have publicly announced the move.
The move was expected, and gives Griffin the chance to either pursue a deal elsewhere — or, of course, re-sign with the Clippers for more years.
The Clippers have had six consecutive successful regular seasons — winning at least 60 percent of their games each year, something only San Antonio has done in that same span — but never cracked the code of finding success in the playoffs. The Clippers never made it out of the second round in any of those six seasons, and lost in the first round each of the last two years.
And now with Griffin, along with LA guards Chris Paul and J.J. Redick all potentially on the move as free agents, as well as speculation that DeAndre Jordan could be a trade possibility, next season’s Clippers could have a decidedly different look.
Griffin has spent his entire career with the Clippers, averaging 21.5 points and 9.4 rebounds on 52 percent shooting in seven seasons. He was due to make $21.4 million next season.
Griffin joins a free-agent class that will also have Utah’s Gordon Hayward, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and Heat guard Dion Waiters as some of the fellow headliners. Golden State stars Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant technically will be free agents as well, but are expected to return to the champion Warriors. Dwyane Wade could have been a free agent as well, but told the Chicago Bulls he is exercising his $23.8 million option for next season.
Griffin was the No. 1 overall pick by the Clippers in the 2009 draft. He missed the entire 2009-10 season with a left knee injury, and a variety of injuries have seen him miss 83 games in the last three regular seasons alone.
Griffin also got hurt in Game 3 of the Clippers’ first-round matchup against Utah this season and never returned. The Clippers lost that series in seven games, dropping the deciding game at home.