The thought of getting Blake Griffin on your team makes every fan salivate but now it’s a real possibility after he and the Pistons agreed to a buyout. The six-time All-Star will become a restricted free agent once the ink is dry and then it will be up to him to find the best landing spot where a championship ring is the most likely.
“Blake has been a great representative for our franchise and for the city of Detroit,” owner Tom Gores said in a statement Friday. “His work ethic and his approach to the game contributed a lot to our culture. He has been a consummate pro and we wish him continued success.
“I’m grateful for everything he did for our team and for our community.”
Griffin has seen his career derailed due to injuries but it was only a few short years ago that he was one of the most devastating forces in the league. But the $36 million owed this season and $39 for next was too much of an albatross for the Pistons to handle, especially in light of the new coach, Troy Weaver, committed to an overhaul.
Weaver has been vocal about his vision for the franchise and it starts with determining which of the youngsters will be the building blocks of the future. The only way to figure that out is to give them plenty of playing time which is why Griffin became a luxury they could no longer afford. It’s also fair to say that Griffin no longer brings the same skill set that saw him voted as an NBA All-Star on six occasions. He simply isn’t that guy anymore but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be a valuable role player on a team standing on the edge of championship glory.
“I thank the Pistons organization for working together on an outcome that benefits all involved and I wish the franchise success in the future,” Griffin said in a statement released by the team.
But which teams could successfully integrate the 31-year-old veteran into its rotation? By all accounts, Griffin is a good guy and an asset in the locker room. That bodes well for team chemistry as he makes the club better than they were without him.
As many of you know, there are NBA spreads on more than just the games these days. Yes, the sportsbooks are willing to let you fire away on Griffin’s new destination and the odds look like this at the time of this writing: Brooklyn Nets -500, Los Angeles Lakers +200, Golden State Warriors +400, Portland Trail Blazers +600, Miami Heat +800, Milwaukee Bucks +1000, and the LA Clippers +1200.
The only way the Bucks and the Clippers could get Griffin into their respective uniforms would be to make room via trade due to the hard cap. That is not likely to happen anytime soon so it would seem that the Nets would like to add a little fire breath to their three-headed monster consisting of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. Wouldn’t that be something?
The Boston Celtics could also be a dark horse in this race. General manager Danny Ainge needs to do something to get more out of the team he has deftly assembled. Boston sits at the All-Star break with a pedestrian 19-17 mark and is currently in fourth place in the East, five games back of the conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers.
But Blake Griffin isn’t the only fish in a rather large pond as the trading deadline nears. The San Antonio Spurs have performed much better than anyone anticipated after they got bounced from the postseason for the time in 22 years last season. However, they have several veterans on expiring deals and there is plenty of interest around the league in renting a player for the stretch drive and the playoffs.
“The Spurs are receiving calls on their veteran players who are pending free agents — LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Trey Lyles, and Patty Mills — and are listening to inquiries, sources said,” The Athletic’s NBA insider Shams Charania reported.
We will have to stay tuned to see who goes where before March 25th but the moves teams make now could dictate where they end up when the postseason comes to a close.