The Pistons have ended the Blake Griffin experiment. They are sitting him indefinitely while they try to get a sucker partner to take Griffin off their hands in a trade. Without a trade, the consolation prize is a buyout which puts the Pistons in rocky waters that will drown them in the short term. Somewhere north of $35 million will still be on the cap which strangles their flexibility. The Pistons are hoping they can get a contender who currently has injuries to take a bite of this poison pill.
Who is Griffin in his 12th NBA season? (11 NBA years because he sat his rookie season due to a knee injury.)
His shooting underwhelms. He averages 11 shots and makes only 4. It’s been six years since Griffin shot 50% from the field. He’s had a host of injuries that have changed his game ala Derrick Rose. Derrick Rose made himself over as a competent distant shooter. Not so for Blake, just 31% from long range. He’s never been outstanding shooting free throws so nothing has changed. What has changed is he can’t rebound anymore, just 5.2 per game. His defense is sorrowful and his PER has taken a huge tumble, from 21.0 in 2018-19 when he was an All-Star to 10.0 this year.
Would you want to pay $36 million for this? (Blake has an opt-out this summer. A contender would probably force him to opt-out to take a pay cut from his $38 million.)
Griffin, a jump shot shooter is making 29.1% of his jump shots. He has taken 35 shots in the 4th quarter and made only 9. Likewise, he makes 21.1% of his threes in the fourth. There’s no argument about his role. He’s not an NBA starter anymore. He doesn’t defend like one and he doesn’t score like one.
So who are the buyers?
Lakers. They are desperate for power forward help since Anthony Davis will be out for a while (strained calf, Achilles). Blake can score some points in a reduced role. Think Vince Carter the last eight years of his career. But can he play the kind of defense Frank Vogel demands?
Laker PF not named Anthony Davis: Kyle Kuzma, Markieff Morris.
Who would have to go? Nobody. The Lakers don’t have the assets. The Pistons don’t want Wes Matthews, Jared Dudley, or Quinn Cook. Even if the Pistons were dopesick, that Laker triumvirate is way short of what the Lakers would have to offer for Blake’s salary. Simply put, they are too old to even entice a third team to get involved.
Celtics. They have big problems in the frontcourt and although Blake doesn’t solve them, he does give the Celtics a shot in the arm. His presence would give them a pep. The C’s just lost to Washington. They have a losing record in their last 10 games. The Celtics need to do something because right now they are underachievers.
Celtics PF not named Jason Tatum: Semi Ojeleye, Tristan Thompson, Grant Williams.
Who would have to go? Grant Williams, Carsen Edwards, Romeo Langford plus draft picks, and a third team to get involved. (Williams, Edwards, and Langford are 22.5 years old cumulatively.)
Clippers. Since Paul George is out until ??? and Kawhi likes load management, Blake could return to the birthplace of his greatest glory. Ty Lue would get the best out of Blake, particularly upping his assist game, devising schemes where he could squeeze from Blake every ounce of talent oxygen he has left. Look at what the Clippers did with Nicolas Batum. It would really work and help the Clippers depth, who seemingly struggle with injuries every year.
Clippers PF not named Kawhi Leonard: Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson
Who would have to go? Lou Williams, Patrick Patterson, Reggie Jackson, and draft picks.
Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs start a power forward who averages 9.1 ppg and 4.8 rebounds. Dorian Finney-Smith would be a backup on most teams. Blake could enter as a backup but would probably start by year’s end. The Mavs need more depth in the position, particularly with Porziņģis in and out of the lineup.
Mavericks PF’s: James Johnson, Maxi Kleber
Who would have to go? Josh Green, James Johnson plus draft picks. Johnson would be waived by the Pistons. At 33 he’s too old fo rebuilding.