Detroit Pistons: Blake Griffin’s agonizing season officially over

Blake Griffin’s season is officially over as the Detroit Pistons were awarded a disabled player exception as a result of his season-ending knee surgery.

Blake Griffin‘s season of agony is over as the Detroit Pistons were awarded a disabled player exception by the NBA.

The league office granted the Pistons a $9.2 million exception to be used, reported The Athletic’s Shams Charania. It effectively ends Griffin’s season. Detroit Free Press reporter Vince Ellis said that the exception expires on March 10.

The Pistons are restricted to the salary cap and adding salary would cause them to go into the luxury tax. But it’s useful for the organization to have given the potential trades they could make to free up a roster spot. A greater look at how the Pistons could use the DPE was detailed here.

Griffin, 30, never seemed himself. He missed the final three preseason games and first 10 regular season games with a knee injury. It came on the heels of an offseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus that limited his availability late in the season and in the first two games of the playoffs, putting a damper on his All-NBA season.

In his 18 games this season, Griffin would show flashes of his former self but often times looked like he was holding back or restricted by something. He averaged career-lows in points per game (15.5) and rebounds per game (4.7). His shooting line of .352/.243/.776 is the worst of his career by a wide margin.

His Player Efficiency Rating of 12.0 was the lowest of his career, and it wasn’t close. His next-lowest season was 19.6 in 2017-18 season when the Pistons acquired him from the Clippers.

Griffin’s season is over with the awarding of the DPE. He underwent his second surgery in eight months on his left knee. The nature of the arthroscopic debridement surgery performed this month is that it “extracts any loose material that may be in the knee joint and can smooth the surfaces inside the knee,” according to Detroit News writer Rod Beard.

The Pistons initially made the trade in a last-ditch effort for Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower to save their jobs. It was a calculated risk that didn’t pan out for that regime. It’s crippled the hands of Dwane Casey and Ed Stefanski moving forward.

As great as Griffin’s All-NBA season was, leading Detroit to its second playoff appearance in four years, the injury risks have emerged to the forefront. The hope for the Pistons is that he gets healthy, they can re-tool and make a run at the playoffs in 2020-21.

It’s likely the only hope the Pistons have until the expense of the trade is fully paid off. The alternative is to attach assets to move his contract of the books, which would take a significant combination of picks and younger players to do.

Griffin is owed $36.6 million for the 2020-21 season, in which his contract is set to expire. Except he will have the can’t-miss option worth $38.98 million for the 2021-22 season, which will impact the Pistons’ free agent opportunities the next two summers.

Next: Here's what the Pistons roster could look like in 2020-21

Detroit can hope that Griffin takes his time to recover and rehabilitate. His health is important to future Pistons success so that he can channel his former All-Star and All-NBA talents to lead the organization forward as long as he’s in the Motor City.

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