The Los Angeles Clippers have traded Blake Griffin after months of rumors surrounding the former All-Star forward. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Griffin is headed to Detroit along with Willie Reed and Brice Johnson in exchange for Avery Bradley, Boban Majanovic, and a protected first round draft pick.
Here’s a look at the projected starting lineup and depth chart for the Pistons with the addition of Griffin.
C- Andre Drummond, Willie Reed, Eric Moreland
PF- Blake Griffin, Anthony Tolliver, Henry Ellenson, Jon Leuer, Brice Johnson
SF- Reggie Bullock, Stanley Johnson
SG- Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway, Reggie Hearn
PG- Ish Smith, Dwight Buycks, Reggie Jackson, Kay Felder
Griffin is averaging 22.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 33 games this season. The power forward has struggled with injuries over his career, but has remained relatively healthy this season. Griffin has not played in more than 70 games since the 2013-14 season. He has only played in 70 or more games in three of his seven NBA seasons heading into this year.
The Pistons made the move for Griffin, despite the decreased value of big men in the league. With Drummond and Griffin, Detroit is committed to traditional post play in a league moving more towards big men who can stretch the floor. Griffin is shooting just 34 percent from the three-point line, and does his best work inside the post. However, Griffin immediately becomes the best player on the Pistons roster. Prior to the trade, Detroit went 22-26 which puts them just outside the playoffs with the No. 9 seed in the East if the playoffs started today.
The Pistons Now Have Limited Salary Cap Flexibility for the Next 4 Seasons
According to Spotrac, Griffin is on the first year of a 5 year, $171 million contract, and is making $29.5 million this season. The contract balloons up to $36.5 million heading into the 2020-21 season, and Griffin has a player-option for the 2021-22 season where Griffin would earn $38.9 million. Barring another trade, the Pistons have tied themselves to Griffin for the next four seasons.
The trade gives the Pistons an opening at the starting shooting guard position, which will likely result in a battle between Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway. We gave the edge to Kennard who is already playing more minutes than Galloway, and is in his rookie season. According to 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.
After learning of the trade, Griffin tweeted out the following gif:
On the surface, the Pistons got the best player in the deal, but do give up two solid pieces in Bradley and Harris. The hard thing to understand is Detroit committing to Griffin’s contract for at least the next four seasons given his injury history. According to Hoops Hype, the Pistons already ranked No. 14 in salaries with $115.4 million this season.
Bradley is on the final year of his contract, and is only making $8.8 million this season. Harris is entering the third season on a 4-year, $64 million deal. Harris is making $16 million this season, but will jump down to $14.8 million as he enters the final year on his contract next season. As Spotrac notes, Griffin, Drummond and Jackson now make up 59 percent of the Pistons salary cap.
Unless the Pistons pick winds up being in the top four, the Pistons also likely traded away a lottery pick in what is expected to be a deep draft. For the Clippers, it frees up future cap space to begin the much-needed rebuilding process. It would not be surprising if the Clippers also looks to deal other players including DeAndre Jordan.