It seems Blake Griffin has played his final game for the Detroit Pistons. Detroit is sitting Griffin until a decision is made on his future.
Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is going to explore potential trades. Finding a trade for Griffin is a longshot. His $36.6 million salary in 2020-21 makes it hard to match salaries without weakening the current roster. Teams with cap space are going to want incentivisation to take on the financial commitment of a deal which is due to pay Griffin nearly $40 million next season. The rebuilding Pistons are not motivated to attach draft picks to move the contract.
Griffin is posting career-lows across the board. He’s well below 40% from the field. The trademark explosiveness is no longer. It might be dramatic to say his knees have ‘gone’, but they are in that ballpark. The 2021 version of Griffin is a far cry from the All-Star of two seasons ago. Years of wear and tear, of surgeries and re-injury, have taken their toll on a player who was among the league’s most dynamic.
The most 💰 a player has given back in a buyout:
1. Bison Dele (DET)- $31.7M
2. Larry Sanders (MIL)- $21.9M
3. Derek Fisher (UTH)- $20.6M
4. Shawn Kemp (POR)- $18.7M
5. Deron Williams (BKN)- $16M
If a Blake Griffin trade does not materialize by 3/25, he will be owed $51.5M.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) February 16, 2021
Playing around with the trade machine leads to one conclusion. A Blake Griffin trade is somewhere between impossible and extremely unlikely. The Chicago Bulls are perhaps best positioned with Otto Porter‘s salary. Contenders would have to give up too many pieces to make the salaries work. Rebuilders like the Thunder are not going to get the draft compensation they desire.
As such, a buyout is seemingly inevitable. This is acknowledged by James Edwards, the Pistons’ beat writer for The Athletic. As noted by Bobby Marks above, Griffin could be in line for one of the league’s biggest ever buyouts. If that’s the route the former All-Star and the Pistons go down, it’s unlikely to be a quick negotiation.
Griffin buyout: Potential destinations
Should Griffin hit the open market, there will still be competition for his signature. Nicolas Batum‘s rejuvenation with the Clippers serves as a point of optimism for potential suitors. Written off and unproductive in Charlotte, Batum is playing good minutes on a title contender. Could fresh motivation help Griffin bounce back?
Griffin is unlikely to be more than a bench option. With his playmaking skill, he can still be a useful player for 10-20 frontcourt minutes per night. Perhaps playing on a better team helps that three-point percentage improve.
The Celtics could do with a frontcourt boost. Griffin could play a bit of smallball five. It’s not hard to envisage him as an upgrade over Grant Williams and Tristan Thompson at the four. Boston is at their best when the ball is moving – Griffin’s passing can help an offense which has a tendency to become iso-heavy.
Miami is mentioned whenever any big name hits the market. They are already being floated as a trade candidate for Griffin. While that’s improbable, the former Clipper would help this Heat team if Detroit agrees a buyout. The Heat have a vacancy at the four. Griffin has the potential to be a good frontcourt partner for Bam Adebayo.
Another team at the center of every player rumor, the Golden State Warriors loom. A Griffin trade has been murmured in the past. The Warriors are picking up wins, but their frontcourt options are depleted. Griffin would give Steve Kerr further depth. He has the IQ to slot seamlessly into the Warriors system, too.
Griffin still has something left to offer to a good team. If he gets bought out, it’ll be fascinating to see where he ends up.
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