The Detroit Pistons and veteran forward Blake Griffin will soon attempt to part ways, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
As the franchise seeks trade options, as well as a potential buyout for Griffin, now in his third year with Detroit, he will be out of the lineup.
In his 11th year in the NBA, Griffin, once one of the league’s most exciting and dominant players, is having his worst season. In 20 games thus far, Griffin is averaging just 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists, while shooting 36 percent from the field.
Having had a long history of injuries as recent as knee surgery last January, it’s arguable that Griffin’s body has broken down past the point of being able to remain a top scorer on a good team. Despite earning wins against some of the league’s best teams, the rebuilding Pistons are 8-19, holding the second worst record in the NBA.
While his stats are concerning, it’s possible some are writing-off Griffin too early. Just two seasons ago, he willed Detroit to the playoffs while averaging 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists and earning his sixth All-Star nod.
In the right role with the right team, Griffin, only 31-years-old, can still be a productive player if healthy. Can Detroit find a trade partner for him? His contract will make it incredibly hard.
In 2017, Griffin signed a five-year, $173 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Clippers. In eight seasons with the team, he became a superstar in the league known for his post play, high-flying dunks, and connection with point guard Chris Paul.
Roughly six months after signing the massive extension, the Clippers and Pistons agreed to a trade that would send Griffin to Detroit in return for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, and two draft picks.
This season, Griffin is earning roughly $36.5 million, with a player option available for next season worth nearly $39 million. Those numbers make him the eighth and eleventh highest paid player in the league for this season and the next.
Given this salary this year, and the player option he has a good chance of accepting, trading Griffin will be tough. His contract may be the worst in the NBA.
Is a trade possible?
With the Pistons and Griffin having agreed to part ways, the question becomes which teams believe they are trading for Griffin’s potential upside, are willing to acquire him before the March 25th trade deadline.
Looking around the league, the outlook for a trade is bleak. Similarly high contracts (Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Kevin Love) all still have more value than Griffin. In addition, there’s no reason any of those players’ teams would make a deal for Griffin without getting an asset from the Pistons.
Teams with cap flexibility, such as Sacramento, Orlando, and New Orleans could theoretically trade for Griffin, but would be giving up assets that would gain back far better value elsewhere.
Just from a math prospective from teams’ cap sheets, matching Griffin’s salary, especially in a trade worth making for either team, doesn’t add up.
While a trade involving Blake Griffin is improbable, a buyout is far more likely. Griffin would lose money, but would get to play where he wants and help a team potentially contend for a title.
Simply put, Griffin’s contract is un-tradeable.
Featured image credited to CBS Sports.
Stats credited to basketball-reference.com.