Detroit Pistons: Blake Griffin not going anywhere

Jan 10, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) is fouled by Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23). Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 10, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) is fouled by Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23). Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Ignore trade talk, Blake Griffin will be with the Detroit Pistons the entire season … or more.

While the NBA off-season was filled with rumors of where the Detroit Pistons would trade Blake Griffin, those rumors have been quiet as of late.

Get used to it, because Blake Griffin is not going anywhere.

Before the season started, the common thought was, if Griffin showed he was healthy, some contending team would offer general manager Troy Weaver an asset for the 6-foot-10 six-time All-Star forward.

Common thought was wrong.

Not only should Pistons fans be prepared for Griffin to be on the team for the rest of the season, but keep his spot in the starting lineup (sorry Sekou Doumbouya fans).

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There are a few key reasons why Griffin will remain a Piston for the foreseeable future:

  1. Blake Griffin not playing for Detroit Pistons like BLAKE GRIFFIN

The Big Question has been answered in the positive: Blake Griffin is healthy. The only games he has missed have been for load management or concussion protocol after getting hit in the jaw.

Griffin had not played in an NBA game since December 28, 2019 until the Pistons opener this season. He had surgery on the left knee that had been bothering him since the 2019 playoffs.

Griffin has shown he can play, but he has not played as the Blake Griffin we had known.

Griffin is only 31 years old, so he is not ancient (five years younger than LeBron James) and it only has been two years since he averaged 24.5 points a game. So, there is still hope he can regain his old form.

But the early returns have not been good. After eight games, Griffin is averaging 13.6 points a game, which would be the lowest average of his 12-year career if it continued.

He is also averaging 5.9 rebounds (third best on team) and 4.3 assists (second on team) so he is contributing to the Pistons in other ways.

However, on a team starved for playmakers not named Jerami Grant, Detroit could really use the old Blake. Eight of its nine losses have been by 10 points or less. The Pistons desperately need a go-to scorer down the stretch.

But Griffin has looked so far (and we are only talking about eight games), more like Luke Kennard on offense rather than a rim-runner who could dunk over a car.

This season, Griffin has attempted 57 three-pointers while only shooting 37 times on two-pointers. In 2013-14, ‘Lob City’ Blake took 1,315 two-point shots to only 44 three-pointers.

And Griffin is only making 31.6% of his threes, not exactly a clone of Svi Mykhailiuk.

But Griffin is a solid veteran with a high Basketball IQ and a good all-around game.  Other NBA teams would be probably be interested in him, except for reason No. 2.

2. Griffin’s contract is an albatross for Detroit Pistons

Six months before being traded to Detroit, Griffin had signed a five-year, $173 million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.

For the 2020-21 season, Griffin will be paid $36.8 million, the eighth-highest salary in the NBA. He also has a player option to be paid $39 million next season.

With the NBA salary cap not expected to move much, due to COVID-19 cutting down team revenues, Griffin’s salary is an even bigger obstacle than normal. Usually, teams can factor in healthy cap increases every year, but not in the current environment.

Adding on Griffin’s salary might not be too bad for some teams looking for help at the end of the season , since it will be prorated. The NBA trade deadline is not until March 25.

It is more the fear Griffin would use his next year option for the $39 million (and why wouldn’t he?) that could be a salary cap killer and frighten away prospective teams.

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3. Blake is a good team player for Detroit Pistons

While Houston has seen all the drama of when a star player is unhappy being on a losing team, Blake Griffin has been nothing but a model citizen for the Pistons.

Griffin has talked about how he is looking forward to mentoring the young Detroit players. He invited rookie Saddiq Bey to work out with him this summer.

Griffin, at least publicly, has not said one word about being unhappy in Detroit.

That is obviously a good thing for the Pistons, they have no need for a major headache from its biggest name player, but it also gives them no real motivation to move Griffin.

He is not asking to be traded, and no one really is asking Detroit to trade for him. As of now, it seems like a simple matter of riding out the season and seeing what happens after that.

If Griffin so badly did want to be on a contending team, he can decline his 2021-22 option and be a free agent in the summer.

Griffin is a very smart guy. He know he needs to show what he can do and stay healthy, to stir up interest if he does decide he wants to go to another team. Playing in a non-pressure situation like Detroit is perfect for a player returning after a year off.

Griffin will continue to start because the team needs him to be competitive, and he is not being paid $36.8 million to be a backup. He also is a team leader, and it is tough to lead from the bench.

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Unless Blake Griffin suddenly becomes the 2018-19 version of himself, the trade market will be bone dry for him. Neither he nor the Pistons seem to be publicly concerned at the moment, they do have 61 more games to figure things out after all.

But expect to see Griffin playing for the Pistons all of the this year … and maybe next.