The Detroit Pistons are taking a page out of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ playbook.
Power forward Blake Griffin and the Pistons have mutually agreed to hold the six-time NBA All-Star out of the lineup for the near future as the team’s front office works with Griffin’s representatives to find a way for the two sides to part ways, Detroit general manager Troy Weaver told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday.
It has become abundantly clear that the Pistons are headed towards something of a rebuild under Weaver, and Griffin’s departure could open up minutes for Detroit’s youngsters, such as Saddiq Bey, who put up a cool 30 on 7-for-7 shooting from deep a couple of games ago.
“After extensive conversation with Blake’s representatives, it has been determined that we will begin working to facilitate a resolution regarding his future with the team that maximizes the interests of both parties,” Weaver said to ESPN on Monday. “We respect all the effort Blake has put forth in Detroit and his career and will work to achieve a positive outcome for all involved.”
Detroit will first exhaust every avenue they can in the trade avenue before they are possibly forced into contract buyout talks with Griffin’s agent, Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports, the same firm that is representing Andre Drummond of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Drummond is currently going through a similar saga in Cleveland, where the Cavs have said that they won’t play the veteran big man while they attempt to trade him. However, while the decision in Cleveland seemed to be forced onto Drummond, it appears that the Pistons and Griffin are on the same page.
“I am grateful to the Pistons for understanding what I want to accomplish in my career and for working together on the best path forward,” Griffin said in a statement provided to ESPN.
Head coach Dwayne Casey was very candid when asked about the situation.
“It’s a situation where we’re rebuilding and retooling and we have to give those minutes to guys like Saddiq,” Casey told the media on Monday. “[Blake]’s a stand-up guy. He will be in the Hall of Fame someday.”
A few years ago a statement like that from Casey would be considered commonplace, but over the past few years injuries have plagued Griffin and likely snuffed out any chance of him ending up enshrined in Springfield.
In each of his first five dominant seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers Griffin played at least 66 games and was named an All-Star in each and to the All-NBA Second or Third Team in four of the five. Since then it’s been a tough road for the Oklahoma City native.
The former Sooner missed 47 games in 2015-2016 due to a torn quad and a right-hand injury that was the result of an intra-team scrap which also saw Griffin get suspended by the Clippers. The next season he missed 21 more games after undergoing minor midseason knee surgery, and the year after that he missed another 24 games to an MCL sprain and various other injuries
Midway through that season—and just a few months after signing a $171-million extension—Griffin was traded to the Pistons. His first full season with the Pistons in 2018-2019 was a successful one, but the next year he once again had to undergo major knee surgery and therefore only played 18 games for Detroit last year.
Those injuries have sapped a lot of the explosiveness and athleticism that made Griffin such a marvel early in his career, though an improved outside game has kept him relevant. The 31-year-old is averaging 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 2.0 triples per game on a 50/33/70 shooting line in 20 games this season.
There has not been any word on the early frontrunners to acquire Griffin as of yet, and they’ll have to work to find a deal with Griffin owed $36.6 million this season and another $39 in 2021-2022—Detroit may have to go the buyout route.
Teams that need another piece to make a serious push for playoff contention could take a shot on him, though.
The young Charlotte Hornets, who are on the fringes of the playoff picture, could always bring Griffin on as a veteran presence in their youthful locker room, and the Boston Celtics, who are -1.5 point favorites at -111 NBA odds against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, seem like they are one quality scoring big man away from being real players in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.