Griffin to Pistons in Blockbuster Deal

The NBA trade deadline on February 8th is fast approaching. The Pistons and Clippers pulled the trigger on the first blockbuster move this season on Monday evening. The LA Clippers sent Blake Griffin, Willie Reed and Brice Johnson to Detroit for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a 1st and 2nd round pick. The deal will give the Pistons one of the best frontcourts in the league, and their first true superstar since pre-ankle injury Grant Hill.

It is a risky pickup with the contract and injury history of Griffin, but has the potential to pay off big-time for Detroit. On the flip-side this looks to be the first of potentially a few moves by the Clippers as we approach the trade deadline. They are focused on putting themselves in position to rebuild long term.

What Were the Clips Thinking?

First off, I’m sure many have thought, what in the world are the Clippers doing? Those people are far from alone. What bothered me more was the lack of respect they gave Blake Griffin than the decision. Over the summer they gave Griffin a 5-year, $173 million contract to essentially make him a Clipper for life. Less than seven months later, he is being traded to Detroit.

Griffin’s departure leaves DeAndre Jordan, who was convinced to stay with the Clippers a couple of summers ago,  pretty much alone in a Clippers uniform. That said, it would be far from a surprise to see Jordan traded by next Thursday. The Clippers cleared a ton of cap space, and will get a chance to start anew in free agency this summer. They also acquire a pick in a loaded 2018 draft class. Trading a superstar is a risky move, but the Clippers now have cap space and some draft picks to start trending the franchise back in the right direction.

Did Detroit Give Up Too Much?

It’s fair to say the Pistons gave up A TON to get Griffin and the $141 million on his contract. Tobias Harris has played well this season, and Avery Bradley has been a nice addition, at times. Without them it leaves their wing depth to Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard. That is easily among the worst in the entire league. Boban Marjanovic had been a fan favorite, and it will be no different for the Clippers. That’s all well and good, but his on-court presence is far from a major loss for the Pistons. Two draft picks are huge, but Stan Van Gundy’s draft track record has been abysmal. The Pistons gave up a lot, have made their cap situation tough over the next few years, and still will come out on top of the deal if Griffin can stay healthy.

Who Won?

Who wins the deal? The NBA is a superstar league, and Blake Griffin is still a superstar. I’m giving this one to the Pistons. Are the Pistons going to win a title with Griffin as their best player? No, but Griffin/Drummond complement each other well and the Pistons, more importantly Stan Van Gundy, desperately needed to make a move. The Pistons also need to get more fans into their new arena in downtown Detroit, which has been struggling to attract consistent crowds with an average team and no superstar to buffer, an average at-best team.

If  Detroit can get even average play from Kennard/Bullock the Pistons may make a run at a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. That makes the Griffin acquisition very worth the amount they parted with. The Clippers were also in desperate need of a shakeup, and it will be interesting to see how they approach the rebuild, presumably without Doc Rivers. This trade could age a lot better for the Clippers in the long run, but the edge goes to the Pistons for the immediate future.

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