The Detroit Pistons parted ways with the former #1 pick in the NBA Draft after a contract buy out with power forward Blake Griffin, who now becomes a free agent. Numerous playoff-bound teams are interested in signing Griffin, including the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Portland Trail Blazers, and Golden State Warriors.
Griffin, 31, had another season remaining on his contract. The Pistons were on the hook for $33.6 million this season and another $36 million next season.
Griffin appeared in 20 games this season with the Pistons as a starter. He averaged a career-low 12.3 and 4.9 rebounds per game. He averaged 21.4 points and 6.6 rebounds over his career that spanned 11 seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers and Pistons.
“I thank the Pistons organization for working together on an outcome that benefits all involved and I wish the franchise success in the future,” said Griffin in an official statement.
“Blake has been a great representative for our franchise and for the city of Detroit,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores. “I’m grateful for everything he did for our team and for our community.”
The Pistons sought to trade Griffin, but he made too much money and the team did not field any serious offers. That’s why Griffin and the Pistons agreed to a buy out.
All signs and rumors point toward the Brooklyn Nets.
The Brooklyn Nets are believed to be leaders to sign six-time All-Star Blake Griffin, sources tell me and @JLEdwardsIII. Rival teams with interest are expecting Griffin to choose Nets as a title favorite for chance to win a championship.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 5, 2021
Oklahoma to LA to the Big D
The LA Clippers selected Griffin with the #1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Griffin was a huge high school star in Oklahoma City and decided to stay in-state to attend college. He spent two seasons with the Oklahoma Sooners and tore up the Big 12. He declared for the NBA Draft after his sophomore season, in which he averaged 22.7 points and 14.1 rebounds per game.
Griffin became a huge part of the Clippers rebuilding process. They went from being the doormat of the Western Conference to one of the top teams in the west. Unfortunately for Griffin, the Clippers had a terrible postseason hex in which they were knocked out in the first or second round. They never made it to an NBA Finals because they never even made it the Western Conference Finals before they were knocked out of the playoffs.
Griffin was never the same explosive and dominant player after he started falling apart due to injuries. He was an unstoppable force in his first four seasons. But then he tore his quad, then injured his knee, and then suffered a plantar foot injury.
Despite the injuries, the LA Clippers still signed Griffin to a max contract, which was worth $171 million for five years at the time in 2017.
Despite the five-year deal, the Clippers traded Griffin to the Detroit Pistons in the middle of the 2017-18 season.
In his first full season with Detroit, Griffin looked like his old self. He averaged a career-high 24.5 ppg in 2018-19 and appeared in 75 games, which marked the most games he played in a season since 2014. But the Pistons sucked and Griffin did not have a lot of help.
Tank City in the Big D
The Pistons let their top player, Christian Wood, walk in free agency during the offseason. The season did not even tip off before the Pistons were thinking about the 2021 NBA Draft lottery.
After the season started, the Pistons traded Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks in exchange for a draft pick and Dennis Smith, Jr. The Pistons entertained a trade for Griffin, but they did not have many suitors because of his hefty salary.
The Pistons (10-26) are the worst team in the Eastern Conference and finally reached the 10-win mark. If it weren’t for the Minnesota Timberwolves being utterly awful, the Pistons would earn the dubious distinction as the NBA’s worst squad.
The Pistons are competing with the Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, and Orlando Magic for the NBA lottery. But they did Griffin a solid but letting him have a shot at playing with a winning team. But where will he end up next?
Title Run for Griffin in Miami or Brooklyn?
The Brooklyn Nets (24-13) are doing great without Griffin and just a half-game behind the Philadelphia 76ers in fight for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. But the Brooklyn Nets could use help on the bench with a free agent like Griffin, especially if Durant misses more games in the second half of the season.
The Miami Heat (18-18) have been mentioned in numerous trade rumors for different players such as Kyle Lowry, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo, and Alec Burks. You can add Griffin to the long list of rumors of players coming to South Beach to help Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat make another deep run in the playoffs .
The Portland Trail Blazers really needed Griffin last season when they were depleted with injuries, especially at the power forward spot. This season, the Blazers (21-14) are in the #5 spot in the Western Conference, which they achieved with CJ McCollum missing a couple months of action with a fractured foot.
The Golden State Warriors (19-18) currently sit on the bubble in the Western Conference playoffs. Rookie James Wiseman has been making progress, but Griffin could help their frontline.
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