"I get it," Griffin said. "Basketball is a business and they said what they had to say at the time, and that's what I wanted to do. The only thing I wish is that [the trade] had gone down differently."
Despite being at peace with the deal, Griffin has not spoken to Clippers executives in the past 12 months and didn't answer calls from owner Steve Ballmer or head coach Doc Rivers as the trade was being finalized.
The Clippers sent Griffin to Detroit on January 29, 2018, as part of a deal that included six total players (including Griffin) and two draft picks. He had agreed to a five-year contract extension with Los Angeles six months earlier after team management put together a lavish production about him as the face of the franchise.
Per ESPN.com's Zach Lowe, here is how the Clippers sold Griffin on re-signing with them:
"When Griffin arrived at Staples Center for his free-agency pitch meeting on July 1, he found the Clippers had erected something of a maze for him with temporary walls. Griffin walked his 3-year-old son, Ford, through the art gallery-style corridors, and found photos hanging at each turn: Griffin on his green Huffy bike with his brother, Taylor, when they were kids; Griffin playing in college; Griffin as a Clipper.
"The maze spit Griffin out onto a couch overlooking the Staples Center court, above the lower bowl. Crowd noise pumped in. The team’s public address announcer declared the Clippers were retiring Griffin’s number. Team employees raised an actual banner into the rafters—a vision of the future they wanted."
Griffin spent eight-plus years with the Clippers and was instrumental in turning the franchise into a consistent playoff contender in the Western Conference. The five-time All-Star averaged 21.6 points and 9.3 rebounds in 504 games from 2010-18.
Saturday will mark Griffin's first trip to Staples Center to take on the Clippers as a visiting player. He's averaging a career-high 25.3 points in his first full season with the Pistons.