There is a valid reason why teams are still going gaga over Blake Griffin despite his injuries the past three seasons. The former All-Star and All-NBA power forward is still a walking double-double machine after all. Griffin averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 61 games with the Clippers last season.

The most impressive part about the evolution of Griffin’s game is his steadily improving three-point game. For a third straight season, Griffin shot over 30 percent from the three-point line at a 33 percent clip.

The Clippers are the favorites, but…

Make no mistake, Steve Ballmer and the Los Angeles Clippers are expected to exhaust all options to retain the services of Griffin and his All-Star pal Chris Paul this summer. Ballmer even stressed the prospect of paying millions of luxury tax penalties won’t dissuade them from paying max money to their top two players.

Veteran NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical of Yahoo Sports clearly emphasized the Clips are still the "overwhelming favorite" to sign Paul because of the amount of money they can offer on the table.

The same can be said to Griffin, who is eligible to get a $30 million per year deal from the Clips this summer.

Then again, free agency season isn’t going to be the same without the drama and the plot twist that could come out of nowhere at any moment. Sure, money is king in free agency, but there are times top tier NBA players make landscape-changing decisions. Last summer, Kevin Durant sacrificed more money for a chance to win a title with Golden State.

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Several years ago, Dwight Howard left $20 million on the table to sign with then promising Houston Rockets squad.

No matter how overwhelming of a favorite the Clippers are to re-sign Griffin, everything is still in play unless he officially signed that dotted line. As for the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder, they are more than just plan B options for Griffin. They are serious threats to snag him out of the City of Angels.

Heat and Thunder are no pretenders

After reaching out an agreement with Chris Bosh, the Heat will now have a cap space of $32 million, which is enough to sign one of those super-max free agents.

However, Pat Riley also plans to keep Dion Waiters and James Johnson after outplaying their contracts last season.

While Gordon Hayward is the top free agent on the Heat’s wish list, Riley and his front-office team could also pursue Griffin. Jared Dudley, who played with Griffin during his stint with the Clippers, believes the Heat is a legit landing spot for the All-Star forward because of its location and no state tax policy.

Moreover, Riley proved time and time again that he’s a great at pulling off a blockbuster deal. For a team that no longer boasts an All-Star, their ultimate trump cap happens to be the man that brought Shaquille O’Neal in 2004 and formed a Big 3 of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Bosh in 2010. Riley can simply forego signing Waiters and Johnson and put all the eggs on Griffin's basket. It's a huge gamble, but the Heat's general manager can live with it.

Ironically, the Thunder’s free agency hopes pin not on their star, Russell Westbrook, but the creativity of Sam Presti. The Thunder put themselves in a tough financial spot ($32 million over the projected cap space) after signing Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams to long-term deals last summer. That figure could turn worse if they sign Andre Roberson to a significant paycheck ($10 million per year). Thankfully for the Thunder, they have Presti manning their front office.

Setting aside the James Harden and Kevin Durant debacles, Presti is a shrewd negotiator who often ends up with the better return than the other team. If the Thunder GM finds a way to unload Enes Kanter’s salaries ($17.15 million) and find takers for either Oladipo’s ($21 million per year) and Adams’ ($22 million per year) bloated contracts, Oklahoma will be in the running for Griffin’s services.

Griffin grew up and played college basketball in Oklahoma, and that is a solid starting point to speculate the Thunder has a real shot at Griffin. Moreover, the idea of playing with soon-to-be MVP in Westbrook and several promising young players should give him enough valid points to consider returning to Oklahoma.

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