Blake Griffin has been a cornerstone of the Clippers franchise, but the power forward is headed to Detroit in a move that will save the Clippers future cap space. According to ESPN, the Clippers acquired Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Majanovic and a protected first round draft pick from the Pistons. L.A. also sent Brice Johnson and Willie Reed to Detroit.
Here’s a look at the projected Clippers starting lineup and depth chart after the trade.
C- DeAndre Jordan, Boban Majanovic
PF- Tobias Harris, Montrezl Harrell
SF- Avery Bradley, Tyrone Wallace, Wesley Johnson, Sam Dekker, Danilo Gallinari
SG- Lou Williams, Sindarius Thornwell, C.J. Williams, Austin Rivers
PG- Milos Teodosic, Jawun Evans, Patrick Beverley
The trade gives the Clippers a bit of roster flexibility as Harris and Bradley can play multiple positions. We project Bradley to move into the starting small forward spot, so Lou Williams can continue his stellar season. This marks the second major trade the Clippers have made as L.A. looks to start over from the Paul-Griffin era.
The Clippers were able to move Griffin despite just signing him to a massive contract. Griffin makes $29.5 million this season, and just signed a 5-year, $171 million contract this off-season. If Griffin opts into the final year of his deal, he will make close to $39 million per season by the end of his contract. This is an overwhelming number considering Griffin’s injury history. The former All-Star power forward has stayed relatively healthy this season, and the Clippers were able to capitalize on his status by trading him for more reasonable contracts.
Blake Griffin Trade Could Be the First of Several Deals to Clear Cap Space for LeBron James
Multiple reports indicate the Clippers have set their sights set on signing LeBron James this summer. Real GM’s Keith Smith reported the Clippers could be in contention to feasibly sign James if they can trade DeAndre Jordan before the deadline. The New York Times Marc Stein reported the Clippers believe they can be on James’ “short list” of teams he considers this summer.
Harris is on the third year of a 4-year, $64 million contract, and is making $16 million this season. This number drops down to $14.8 million on the final year of the deal. Bradley is on one of the most cap-friendly contracts in the entire league. He makes $8.8 million this season, and is on the final year of a 4-year, $32 million contract.
Not only does the deal clear cap space, the Clippers potentially acquired a lottery pick in a deep 2018 draft. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the pick the Pistons are sending to the Clippers is top-four protected for the next three seasons. It becomes unprotected in 2021 if the Clippers have not received the selection.
Prior to the trade, the Clippers were 25-24, and the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference. Even with Griffin, the Clippers were unlikely to challenge the top teams in the West come playoff time.
Wojnarowski reported the Clippers could also look to deal Jordan and Williams.
“Clippers will continue to discuss contracts extensions at the right price, while engaging teams in trade talks on DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams. They’ll try to do a hard thing in the NBA: Rebuild on the fly with younger players/picks, without gutting roster,” Wojnarowski tweeted.