Blake Griffin ‘getting closer’ to Nets debut

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Kristian Winfield, New York Daily News
·2 min read
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And the rich get richer.

Star forward Blake Griffin is “getting closer” to making his Nets debut, according to the team. Griffin, who signed with the Nets as a free agent earlier this month, has not played a game since Feb. 12 and has been held out since signing in Brooklyn to get in optimal game shape.

Nets head coach Steve Nash was asked if Griffin could make his debut Sunday against the Washington Wizards.

“I don’t know,” Nash said. “I think he is getting closer. I think he’s doing great, looks good and is improving and is working hard off the floor as well. I think he’s addressing all the things he needs to address to land safely back in the game and to transition into our team. That’s not easy. We don’t want to take that for granted.”

Griffin, who is coming off two knee surgeries in an eight-month span, came to an agreement with the Detroit Pistons to stay away from the team while they sought a trade. The Pistons never found a trade partner and ultimately agreed to a contract buyout with Griffin, who joined the Nets on a veteran’s minimum contract.

It is still unclear which version of the star the Nets have signed. Griffin is a six-time All-Star whose vertical leap launched him into the spotlight as one of the NBA’s feared poster dunkers. Knee surgeries and Father Time have slowed Griffin down: He has not dunked since Dec. 12, 2019, and his numbers have declined sharply.

Griffin is still an elite playmaker and has turned into an aggressive three-point shooter, converting on about 34% of 6.5 attempts per game in his four seasons in Detroit. He has potential as a small-ball five, a stretch five, a prototypical power forward and, of course, a lob threat, provided his legs are still under him.

Griffin also has a chance to even further supercharge a Nets offense already powered by three all-time great scorers: Kevin Durant (hamstring), James Harden and Kyrie Irving, each of whom have been serenaded with MVP chants by fans or pundits.

Before he does any of that, Griffin has to take the floor for his Nets debut and learn the ropes like everyone else.

“He has to adapt to the way we play, new teammates, new system, new style. But he’s doing everything you could ask for,” Nash said. “I think just his presence is important because he is an intelligent, mature, experienced player. We’re looking forward to having him back. I don’t know when that will be but I think it’s coming. He does look really good right now.”