Detroit Pistons: Time to reverse Blake Griffin-Tobias Harris trade

Blake Griffin #23 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Blake Griffin #23 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

In a move that would help both teams, the Detroit Pistons should send Blake Griffin to the Philadelphia 76ers, in return for former Piston’ Tobias Harris.

Both the Detroit Pistons and the Philadelphia 76ers are under new basketball management this season. Part of their duties, is to clean up the mess their predecessors made.

Each has a contract that hangs like an albatross on the wall of their office. They had nothing to do with creating it, but it is their job to remove the albatross, pack it up, and send it to someone else.

Specifically, it might be time for Philly’s Daryl Morey and Detroit’s Troy Weaver to swap albatrosses.

Tobias Harris and Blake Griffin Trade, Part Deau

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On January 29, 2018, the NBA world was shaken by a massive trade between the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Blake Griffin, a five-time All-Star selection, was traded by the Clippers, along with Brice Johnson and Willie Reed, to the Detroit Pistons for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanović, a 2018 1st round draft pick and a 2019 2nd round draft pick.

It was basically a desperation move by Pistons coach/general manager Stan Van Gundy to make the team relevant. At the time the trade was consummated, Detroit had lost eight straight games, and were going nowhere fast.

It went a little better (17-17) after the trade, but the Pistons still did not make the playoffs, and Van Gundy lost his job.

With Griffin having an All-NBA season, the Pistons did make the playoffs the following year, although a knee injury hampered Griffin, as they got swept in the first round by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Related Story. Blake Griffin is here to help the Pistons no matter what. light

On the other hand, Harris shined during his time in with the Clippers. He was a borderline all-star when, in February, 2019, the 76ers sent a boatload of picks and players to get the 6-foot-9 forward.

After coming within a four-bounce shot by Kawhi Leonard of knocking off the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors in the playoffs, Harris signed a five-year, $180 million contract with the Sixers.

Harris had not played all that well for Philly. However, with Jimmy Butler headed to Miami, to also lose Harris would have left the 76ers management with egg on their face, so Harris had the all leverage in negotiations.

Harris did not look that great last season either, as the 76ers got swept by Boston in the first round. He has looked better this year under his former Clippers coach, Doc Rivers.

The reason for Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons trading Griffin and Harris again

Tobias Harris’  massive contract has three more cap-choking years to go.  This season, Harris actually is paid more than All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Months before getting traded, Griffin had inked a five-year, $173-million contract in July, 2018 with the Clippers. At the time, it seemed a no-brainer, Griffin was just 27-years-old and seemed to be entering the prime of his career.

However, Griffin has never really recovered from the injury he suffered in the 2019 playoffs. Forget about catching lobs high in the air, Griffin has not even made a dunk this season. He has become more of a facilitator, who favors being a below-average outside shooter.

Griffin is still a nice player, but not the eighth-best player in the NBA, and that is where his salary of $36.6 million is ranked this year.

But Griffin’s contract runs out after the 2021-22 season, while Harris’ would still have two more years to run.

Hmmm, the 76ers could get some salary cap relief in a year, while Detroit gets a solid contributor who, at 28, should have many fine years to come.

76ers-Pistons: The Trade

Since Philly needs shooting (because, you know, their point guard won’t shoot), Weaver can throw Svi Mykhaliuk in there. He could use a change of scenery. The Sixers can put in a second-round pick, since Detroit can use some of those after giving up four in the Luke Kennard trade.

The 76ers got stuck with taking Poirier in the Al Horford trade. He is on an expiring contract and would help the Pistons more than the 76ers this year, where he is the fourth-string center.

Is Harris a better player than Griffin, right now? Yes, but Griffin has the all-around game and veteran smarts that would help a team with high hopes for the next couple seasons.

And after next season, Morey now has boatloads of cap space to go after that third star they have been looking for to complement Embiid and Simmons.

The Pistons may want to have a lousy record this season, but not two years in a row. Harris, along with Jerami Grant, a recovered Killian Hayes and whoever Detroit gets in the 2021 draft, could be a foundational lineup that puts Detroit back in the upper half of the Eastern Conference again.

Next. Detroit Pistons: 3 biggest surprises from the first month of the season. dark

If you analyze it, the trade is a win-win in the long term for both teams.

The trade deadline is not until March 25. Detroit could do a lot worse than Griffin-Harris trade: The Sequel.