The Detroit Pistons will head into next season with their franchise centerpiece at full strength. If they try to move him, it won’t be easy.
Now that the Detroit Pistons are in rebuild mode, one of the first orders of business as we head into next season could be to trade away Blake Griffin, who a year ago was easily their most attractive asset.
As of today however, that’s not necessarily the case. He had a remarkable campaign in 2018-2019 where he arguably overachieved and received All-Star and All-NBA recognition. He was put in a situation where he was more or less forced to take his game to the next level in order for his team to succeed.
A knee injury held him out of a few games to end the season, and after returning in the final two games in the playoff series against Milwaukee, he underwent surgery. The expectation was that he’d be ready to go once the new season rolled around.
Griffin missed the opening ten games of the season and it was clear from the jump that something was still off. It was apparent in the preseason but in genuine NBA action, his knee was clearly still hindering his effectiveness. His elevation was gone and his jump shots were flat.
Eventually after appearing in just 18 games, he opted to undergo surgery that would end his season.
So now the question becomes the obvious; with $75.5 million remaining on his contract, can he still be the player that Detroit has known him to be?
He has a player option for the 2021-2022 season worth $38.9 million so in theory he could walk away from the Pistons, but that’s not going to happen.
Moving a contract of this size for a player with nothing but questions surrounding him is no easy task. Any team that’s interested in acquiring him is going to have the same questions that we have about his durability.
The wise thing to do would be to wait until the season actually begins, see where he’s at health and performance wise, and then test the market on him. If he’s playing well and is able to stay on the floor, then the market could open back up for him.
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Even if that doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world for Detroit. Although Griffin is the ninth highest paid player in the league, (and number one among power forwards) his contract isn’t as damaging to the team as most think.
Trading Andre Drummond closed the door on him potentially opting into his 2020-2021 player option which will save the Pistons $28.7 million this summer
This among other meticulous financial moves put the organization in a promising place when looking at their future cap space. If Detroit is unable to move Griffin, they’ll still have plenty of space to pull off whatever moves they feel are necessary.
Regardless of his current abilities, he’s still a coach on the floor and can be a tremendous mentor for whatever rookie the Pistons bring in this summer.
One thing that should be avoided at all costs is surrendering draft capital in order to get his contract off the books. It’s one thing if the only “asset” you’re getting in return isn’t physical, but more cap space. But to essentially pay another team to take him off your hands would be unforgivable.
His value isn’t what it once was, and in all likelihood the best that Detroit well get is a majority of expiring deals with a potential long term option or late draft pick attached.