If the summer of 2010 proved anything, it's that the league's top superstars aren't necessarily beholden to the teams that drafted them. Even though only LeBron James(notes), Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) made meaningful moves among the top free agents, many flirted with the idea of switching cities, even if they didn't eventually make any moves. Players are in control, not teams. So when a player seems to be a perfect fit for his team, we shouldn't assume that he'll stay in town forever.
Apparently Neil Olshey is a reverse-bear and hibernated through the summer, because he thinks that Blake Griffin(notes) will definitely be a Clipper for life. From Ramona Shelburne on ESPNLosAngeles.com:
"I can guarantee you he will only ever be a Clipper," general manager Neil Olshey said of his prized rookie. "If [Oklahoma City Thunder general manager] Sam Presti arrived on Kevin Durant's doorstep at midnight on July 1st with an extension, understand that Blake Griffin lives two blocks away from me in Manhattan Beach so it's going to be a much shorter commute for me."
I have little idea how close Griffin feels to the Clippers, but it's not safe to expect anything of NBA superstars in the current climate. In 2004, when a rookie LeBron was making the Cavs relevant for the first time in ages, it probably seemed like he would be in Cleveland for life -- he was even from the area. Yet even the strongest ties can be broken. There are simply too many variables to assume anything here.
It's certainly possible that Griffin will reshape the Clippers over 15 years and retire as the greatest hero in franchise history (if he isn't already). But a lot can happen over the course of a career, including a move to another team. Griffin is just 21, and there's no telling what will happen with the Clippers before he finishes up.
Anything can happen in the NBA. Instead of planning on Griffin staying forever, Olshey should probably prepare himself for all possible scenarios. It never hurts to have a contingency plan.
- Blake Griffin