Blake Griffin Traded
Blake Griffin has been traded to the Detroit Pistons (Jeff Swinger/USA TODAY Sports)

Blake Griffin has been traded to the Detroit Pistons. He has a new home, and it’s slightly less appealing.

As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

The reported meat of the deal is as follows:

CLIPPERS GET:

  • Avery Bradley
  • Tobias Harris
  • Boban Marjanovic
  • Protected DET 1st round pick
  • DET 2nd round pick

PISTONS GET:

  • Blake Griffin
  • Brice Johnson
  • Willie Reed

The protections on the pick were also released by Woj a few minutes after his initial report:

My take:

Wow. This is something. A slow news NBA Monday got a lot more interesting as the evening slate of games approached. Let’s get right to it.

What is Detroit trying to do? This will be a commonly asked question for the next few days as we debate why they would want to absorb this huge Griffin contract.  As I mulled this over in the hours following the announcement, I started to see where Detroit is coming from. A team that is already strapped by the salary cap and the myriad of questionable deals they have handed out, the Pistons want to give the playoffs a shot and this actually might be the best way for them to do so.

Let me be clear, I am not a fan of this move from several aspects including long-term salary and offensive fit, but I have to step back and see what Detroit sees. They see an opportunity to overtake teams such as the Sixers, Pacers, and an injury-plagued Wizards squad. And they envision doing so with something the Eastern Conference doesn’t really have and that is an offense heavily predicated on frontcourt scoring.

The Eastern Conference is heavy at the top with guard and wing play offensively. (No offense Al Horford) The only team that can really boast a formidable low post scoring offense is the Philadelphia 76ers. The team directly above Detroit in the playoff standings.

As for the Clippers, I love the move. I do feel for Griffin and the fact that he re-signed last summer with the impression he was going to be a Clipper 4 Lyfe. But this has Jerry West written all over it. A well thought out trade that releases the team from an albatross contract for an aging player that has, to this point, greatly relied on his athleticism to be successful. Not a chance Doc Rivers brought this to the table.

From a personnel perspective, Tobias Harris becomes a worthwhile gamble for a 25-year old that may be having his best season of his career offensively. He is under contract for one more season and can play the wing as well as sliding down to fill the four spot in a small ball lineup. Avery Bradley is a nice short-term piece that provides instant on-ball defense and above average shooting from three-point range, but he is destined for free agency this summer and will most likely price himself out of the Clippers’ plans for the future. Nonetheless, this is a risk worth taking for LA and frees up salary slots for possible targets Lebron James and Paul George.

This is, of course, taking into account that LAC will trade Deandre Jordan this season or that he will decline his $21+ million player option for next season. This would really allow the Clippers to make some interesting calls during free agency this summer. The Harris contract is also something that wouldn’t be that hard to move again if they needed the extra financial flexibility. Last summer’s Danilo Gallinari contract looms large over possible future plans as well. It is unlikely the Clippers could find a suitor for that deal and most likely will hope he can contribute in a lesser role with new stars around him.

The Clippers were also able to obtain the Piston’s 1st round pick in 2018. The pick is reported to be protected for selections 1-4. This would mean the pick is almost certainly conveying to the Clippers this season. Coupled with their own 1st, LA looks to have two draft picks in the 12-20 range. Not a bad takeaway in a reportedly deep draft class. These are also solid chips that could be used to move up to a higher selection come draft day.

In the end, I give the Clippers the nod as the winner in this trade today, but I’m not denying the short-term success that Detroit could experience this season.