‘Feel great’ – Griffin knows right call was made to cut his injury-marred Pistons season short

Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin said his recovery from January knee surgery is going well and he’ll be ready to go whenever the 2020-21 season tips off.
Logan Riely (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

Blake Griffin might go 12 months between games and if that’s not the way he would have scripted it, he’s at least determined to use a prolonged absence from basketball to his maximum benefit.

“Obviously longer than I wanted to sit, but that being said, you try to take advantage and use every bit of it and be smart about it at the same time,” he said Thursday via video conference. “Make sure I’m not hurting myself and doing anything to put myself at a disadvantage given all this time.”

Griffin played 18 games in a 2019-20 season abbreviated by the COVID-19 pandemic, missing the first 10 after coming off of left knee surgery and being shut down in late December when it was determined a second surgery to clean up loose bodies was in order. He has no doubt today that was the right call.

“As far as rehab goes, feel great,” he said. “Only confirmed that I needed to take care of it to be able to get back to where I want to be. I’m looking to keep that same level of training and be ready to go, be fresh by the time the season rolls around – whenever that may be.”

Griffin said he spoke to Pistons trainers this week in coordination with his personal trainers to map out an off-season strategy.

“Went over the team’s notes and our own and put together a plan to escalate training,” he said. “Take a week here to de-load, so to speak, and make sure I’m peaking at the right time.”

Griffin has a frame of reference for an abnormally long off-season – the 2011 NBA lockout coming off of his spectacular rookie season. Given that NBA teams could have no contact with their players over that summer until an agreement was struck in late November, he sees less danger in players being adrift this time around than in that period.

“We didn’t make the playoffs the year before, so we were done April 12 and we didn’t know when the season was going to start,” he said. “I think right after Thanksgiving we found out we would start, so I’ve sort of been in this situation. As a younger player, you sort of have a different perspective. I would say to (Pistons young players), just make sure you pace yourself in this time because right now, they’re saying (training camps open) Nov. 10 but it could be longer than that – not by a whole lot – and it’s not the same thing as the lockout where it might get done and we have to turn around and play.

“You just have to be smart. The nice thing, we have an unbelievable training staff and an unbelievable strength and conditioning staff. Those guys will put together a plan for everybody. I’ve had multiple conversations already. That’s something I didn’t have during the lockout because we weren’t allowed to communicate with teams, so I think that gives us as players and also the team an advantage just because you won’t be so on your own as we were.”

Griffin understands the motivation of the eight franchises excluded from the Orlando reboot of the 2019-20 season to conduct some type of organized summer basketball. He’s less certain about a full-blown competitive environment for those eight teams.

“I think that needs to be somewhat flexible because it’s not worth putting people at risk or people’s family at risk just to play some games, but I understand the feeling for teams and coaches wanting to get their guys in one place and have some sort of unity. Nobody’s used to having nine months off or whatever it will be whenever we come back for the season. I think it’s a delicate situation but it needs to be somewhat fluid. People’s health and safety and family members’ health and safety is first and foremost in this situation, in my opinion.”

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