Shoot Your Future Shot: Knights Attempting To Acquire Derrick Griffin, Sources Say

  • By John Comey, Day 115, 2024

The process in Kansas City may be close to being blown up, in what may be termed as a fit of impatience.

Sources within the organization report that the Knights are attempting to acquire Las Vegas forward Derrick Griffin, and are prepared to mortgage their future to do so. Reportedly included in the offer are two first-round selections—this years and in 2027—as well as second-year forward Dejuan Brooks and rookie center Montreal Cleveland.

Griffin, considered by many around the league to be the best overall defender in basketball, is averaging 15.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.27 blocks, and 1.95 blocks per game. He has a player option for next season, at $20 million. It is unclear as to whether he will pick it up, though some report he wants to test the open market now, to capitalize on one more big contract before the end of his career.

The Scorpions are assessing their options; meanwhile, an internal discussion—some characterize it as a fight—have gone on in the Knights’ front office as to whether or not making this move is prudent, or short-sighted.

“Someone will leave (the organization) over this,” said one official, speaking anonymously. “Whether or not they leave willingly depends on who wins out.”

Due to James’ player option, the offer of four assets, including two first round picks (Kansas City does not have its 2026 first-rounder) is risky, at best. Brooks has struggled mightily at times this year, and Cleveland is stuck behind the quartet of Kelvin Hawes, Juan Maurice, Marko Dujmovic, and Alexei Davydov.

While getting Griffin would solidify what is generally considered a solid but young lineup for the Knights, there is no guarantee he would stay beyond this season. Similarly, the team is unsure it wants to tie its financial flexibility to a player who they believe will age well, but would require a max or near-max level contract that would take him to his age-33 season.

“Why would we do that?” asked one official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “(Griffin) is good. Sure. And we have some good young pieces. We don’t entirely know what they are yet, though. Why go get this guy, when our ceiling could be sixth in the conference? We would have no way out if we did that. What good does that do? It’s damned stupidity.”

Head Coach Mitchell Anderson has stressed patience with this roster, which features Brooks ending his first full season as a starter, and second-year guard Matt Mueller just taking over the reigns. The team also acquired second-year guard Ari Ajayi recently; in his first four games, he has averaged 16.0 points per game, and has warranted starting alongside Mueller.

The team recently demoted Brooks, citing the young forward putting too much pressure on himself.

“He needs a mental break,” said Anderson of Brooks. “The kid puts a lot on his shoulders. I tell him we have Kelvin Hawes. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Shandon James, the combo wing who has resurrected his season after a terrible start, has slid over to his natural position at small forward. Ajayi has slotted into the shooting guard spot ahead of rookie Latavius Morgan, who has played serious minutes in his initial campaign. There are times when Morgan has looked like the star the team thought he could when they drafted him 21st overall in last year’s draft.

“He’s looked like a rookie a lot, too,” said Anderson. “He’s been fine. Getting (Ajayi) is not a referendum on Latavius. We wanted Ari a year ago, and missed out on him. We had a chance. We have to think about next year and beyond, too.”

James’ contract has a player option, which is likely to be picked up. However, his role with the team next year is projected to be a secondary one, as the team will move forward with Brooks, Ajayi, and Morgan; the latter is also a combo wing, capable of playing both the two and three.