But maybe Griffin was the one rude to Clippers president Lawrence Frank.
Griffin reportedly learned he’d be traded the morning the deal was made. Griffin spoke to his agent, Sam Goldfeder, then went to Frank.
The conversation between Frank and Griffin was tense, though entirely civil. Griffin asked for definitive information about the negotiations, while Frank responded that players of Griffin’s caliber were frequently the subject of discussions with other organizations. Griffin, well-acquainted with basketball-operations speak, this time made a more assertive request: If and when the discussions materialize into a trade, he and his agent wanted to get the news from Frank — not a third party. Frank assured Griffin he’d be his first call.
Griffin left the facility to pick up his kids, and on the drive home the friend texted that the deal was on the 1-yard line. He should expect a call from Pistons coach and president Stan Van Gundy shortly. Griffin promptly texted Goldfeder with the news, and 10 minutes later received a call from Frank and one from Clippers coach Doc Rivers 10 minutes after that. Griffin declined to answer either call, as well as one later from Clippers owner Steve Ballmer. He has not spoken to any of the Clippers’ principals since leaving.
That’s part of an excellent profile on Griffin. I suggest reading it in full.
Managing the emotions of trades is difficult. Teams have a duty to make trades that help the team, but that often leaves players feeling slighted. Players want immediate and complete information while management is still working through details and doesn’t want to upset someone who might be sticking around.
There’s no easy answer, and everyone ought to recognize the inherent messiness of the process.
I don’t begrudge Griffin for not answering those calls. It would have been nice if he did, but he didn’t owe it to anyone. He had to take care of himself first, just as the Clippers looked out for themselves with the trade. If Griffin wanted space in that moment, that was his right. Even if Griffin requested a call from Frank with the express intent of later ignoring it, Griffin was entitled to a little harmless pettiness.
But complaining about the Clippers’ handling of the deal after the fact seems particularly unfair by Griffin.