The Celtics have agreed to a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with forward Blake Griffin, a league source confirmed Friday.
The source said the Celtics recently attended the six-time All-Star’s workouts in Los Angeles and believe that his ability to play both power forward and center will provide much-needed depth. Forward Danilo Gallinari is out for the year after tearing an ACL in August, and center Robert Williams is expected to miss 2-3 months after undergoing a maintenance surgery on his left knee last week.
Griffin, 33, is no longer the explosive athlete who won the 2011 slam dunk championship, and he is a defensive liability. But he has adjusted his game over the years and become a capable 3-point shooter, despite hitting just 26.2 percent of his tries last year, when he averaged 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds for the Nets.
Griffin is an above-average passer for a big man, and the source said that the Celtics believe his skill set is similar to that of veteran big man Al Horford.
Horford, 36, has said he intends to play in games on back-to-back nights, but with Gallinari and Williams out, the Celtics will be careful not to overwork Horford during the regular season.
Griffin fell out of the Nets rotation last spring before making a surprise appearance in Game 3 of Brooklyn’s opening-round series against the Celtics. He provided a jolt by instantly drilling a pair of 3-pointers. Afterward, though, Celtics coach Ime Udoka made it clear they were happy to take advantage of Griffin elsewhere in a 109-103 win that was part of their first-round sweep.
“If they’re not getting stops, they’re trying to match us scoring-wise, so they put in another guy who could shoot the ball,” Udoka said at the time. “Credit him with coming in and hitting some big-time shots.
“But we felt we could take advantage on the other end some, so there was a bit of a balance to that. But they were searching for something there, and they were trying to match us scoring-wise. Great job by Blake.”
If nothing else, Griffin’s presence should bring some sizzle. He is probably the most globally recognizable player on the team, other than perhaps Jayson Tatum. He has finished in the top 10 in NBA MVP voting three times, he has become known as a pitchman for brands such as AT&T, Nike, and Kia, and he even has several acting credits, including appearing in a “Saturday Night Live” skit with Kim Kardashian last year.
The Celtics do not care about any of that, of course. They just hope he can provide some suitable production off the bench while they wait for reinforcements.