The Detroit Pistons and forward Blake Griffin have agreed to part ways. Griffin will, controversially, be sitting out of the lineup until a trade is completed.
A trade is only one of the Pistons’ possible options, as they could buy out Griffin’s contract. While trading Griffin means the team would get something in return, it may be hard to convince another team to take on his huge player option. So, in return for taking $39 million off of their books, the Pistons might have to trade picks or players in addition to Griffin.
However, this article will focus on the more exciting prospect of a trade for Griffin, assuming the team is willing to take on the player option monies. Here are potential trade destinations for Blake Griffin.
The Miami Heat were the surprise Eastern Conference representative in the NBA Finals in 2020. Inside the bubble, the Heat’s young team thrived and upset a favored Boston Celtics squad who were ready to re-kindle their rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals.
After losing in the finals (four games to two), the Heat are off to a slow start in 2021. They are currently the 10th seed, at 11-16. It is clear the team needs a spark and a marquee name like Griffin can provide exactly that.
Pairing Griffin with Jimmy Butler opens up the offense in different ways, as Griffin has been working on his outside shot and is obviously still proficient in the paint. This allows Butler to find more holes in the defense and certainly opens up the passing game.
More veteran presence around a young team without hamstringing minutes is the ideal situation for a team like Miami. Detroit would likely get some veterans in return, making it a similar situation for both teams. Plus, Griffin could finally make an NBA Finals if all works out well.
The Celtics need depth. They have next to none on the roster, which is incredibly problematic if they want to make another deep playoff run.
Griffin may not really solve this problem outright, because he could very much find his way into the starting lineup. If Griffin is the only player the Celtics get in the trade, then a Lou Williams/Patrick Beverley role would suit him best. That is, a starter-caliber player that takes sixth-man minutes to bolster the bench’s firepower.
But, given the fact that the Celtics would need to take on that money tied to Griffin, GM Danny Ainge will probably be able to get some younger players along with Griffin to supplement the bench. The Pistons would not be forced to give up any draft picks if they could ship along one or two players in which they lack confidence, solving both teams’ problems.
In other words, trust Danny Ainge to do exactly what is right for the Celtics if a trade is going to take place between these two.
Los Angeles Lakers
Leave it to de-facto GM LeBron James to find a way to pull this move off.
James loves to bring in veteran players who want a ring and still have some gas left in the tank. Given that the Lakers are already full of firepower and won a title inside the bubble last year, this would skyrocket their title odds even higher.
Although Los Angeles may not want to upset the apple cart as far as getting rid of players for another forward, never count out the possibility of LeBron bringing in a veteran former-star. The Pistons may have to do some restructuring and the players they would get back are a mystery. But a Blake Griffin trade would make the Lakers unstoppable.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The reason the Thunder are even being discussed as a potential trade destination is because a trade here would allow Griffin to return home.
Griffin was born in Oklahoma City and went to college at University of Oklahoma. He may want to be the player to help the Thunder reach the NBA Finals again, for the first time since the trio of Westbrook, Durant and Harden.
The Thunder were a surprise team last year, lead by Chris Paul, who is now a Phoenix Sun. They are 11-16 this year (the same record as the Heat, who are the favored destination by sports bettors), so they clearly also need a spark to return to the playoffs. The draw of returning home could rekindle a fire in Griffin that has been a bit lost in Detroit.
It would make a lot of sense for the Thunder to aggressively pursue this trade, even with the extra salary they would have to take on.
Featured Image courtesy of Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
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