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Blake Griffin admits he was surprised by benching, but says ‘not my decision’

Brooklyn Nets v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

Blake Griffin was not playing well, at least on offense when word came from Steve Nash that LaMarcus Aldridge was going to take his place in the starting lineup. He was averaging a career-low 5.5 points shooting just 31.8 percent overall and a shocking 16.1 percent from 3-point range in 17 starts. In his 26-game stint last season, Griffin averaged 10.0 points and shot 49.2 percent overall and 38.3 percent from deep. Quite the dropoff.

But Monday, the 33-year-old veteran of 13 seasons admitted dropping completely out of the rotation was a surprise.

“No, I mean listen, [Aldridge] has been playing unbelievable,” Griffin said. “So, I totally get starting him, especially Joe [Harris] has been out, and I totally get that.

“Being completely out of it, though, I didn’t necessarily see that coming. But that’s not my decision. As players it’s our job to do whatever coaches see best, so at this point that’s what it is.”

Nash admitted the decision wasn’t easy. Griffin still brings a lot to the Nets. He leads the league in charges, as he did last season, and he brings energy to a squad that has been called too quiet.

“Well, I feel for him,” Nash said. “That’s not easy. You know it’s tough when you go through a rough stretch of play and the world kind of caves in on you a little bit. I’ve been there and understand it. We have to give other guys an opportunity at this point, but Blake’s had a great attitude. I really admire him for being positive through this and keeping himself ready so if his opportunity comes back, he can have an impact.”

Aldridge is now the third player to start at the 5 for the Nets this season. Nic Claxton started three of the four games he played before going down with what’s still an undisclosed illness. Now, with LMA playing well — better than he did in his short but effective stint last season — and Claxton being sent to Long Island to practice, the timing seemed ideal.

Add in that the Nets will need more offense with Joe Harris out for a month or two, an efficient offense will be a priority for Brooklyn and its head coach. Will Griffin, the six-time All-Star, face a similar fate to that of DeAndre Jordan who didn’t play a minute after May 8 in the regular season or playoffs, then was was traded in a salary dump to the Pistons before winding up in L.A. with the Lakers.

“I have seen [and] have had great examples,” Griffin said. “DeAndre last year, he is a guy that I talked to that reached out. A lot of the guys from last year reached out. He did a really great job with it. I told him that. That is how I am going to try to do it as well.

“Just be a professional and do exactly what you are supposed to do,” Griffin added of what message his former teammates told him. “It may sound like not good advice, but in this situation, everybody always needs to hear the right thing.”