By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
It will be interesting to see how Thunder fans treat hometown guy Blake Griffin tonight.
In past seasons Griffin has generally been cheered during starting lineup intros and then booed once the game starts, especially if fans feel he’s fouled a Thunder player too hard, or abused the rims with a dunk or maybe flopped to encourage a foul call.
Once the game starts, even hometown guys become the enemy.
But this season, all the talk about the Thunder perhaps going after Griffin in free agency next summer, could change that dynamic a bit.
Maybe fans will want to cheer Griffin just a little more, or at least not boo him quite as much, if they think there’s a chance he could be playing on their own team next season.
Griffin has tried his best, much like Kevin Durant last season, to deflect any free agency talk during the season. He was asked after Wednesday’s Clipper win over Portland if he expects any family and friends from Oklahoma City and Norman to try and “recruit” him to play for his hometown NBA team.
"People that I talk to and my friends and family from back home, I think they're ... I would say true friends and family, where they know that my main focus is this season and this team," Griffin was quoted as saying by ESPN.com. "And they know that I enjoy playing here and I love this team, coaching staff, everybody. So they know that that's my main focus. So I think they pretty much know not to bring that up."
The former OU star made the largest donation ever by a former basketball athlete to the Sooners program over the summer. He was National Player of the Year in 2009 and was drafted first overall by the Clippers. He can opt out of his current contract at the end of the season and become an unrestricted free agent.
"It's honestly nothing I even really think about," Griffin said to SiriusXM NBA Radio during the preseason. "Haven't had a conversation with anybody. That includes friends, family, agents, coaches, teammates. ... It's not a conversation I have. I got a lot of basketball left to play this year. I got a full season, postseason, still got some preseason. So that's on the back on my mind. I'll deal with that when the appropriate time comes. But right now isn't the time."
Now that the Thunder have signed Steven Adams to a $100 million extension and Victor Oladipo to a $84 million deal, some financial gymnastics will have to be done, including moving Enes Kanter and his almost $18 million a year contract in order to fit a max deal for Griffin under the salary cap.
As difficult, or perhaps even impossible, as the reality would be to actually accomplish, it won’t stop Thunder fans from fantasizing about a lineup with Griffin alongside Adams, Oladipo and Russell Westbrook.