Potential Landing Spots for Detroit Pistons' Blake GriffinFebruary 16, 2021
Blake Griffin's time with the Detroit Pistons is all but over.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, he will be out of the lineup while the franchise looks to trade or eventually buy out the remainder of his contract.
"After extensive conversation with Blake's representatives, it has been determined that we will begin working to facilitate a resolution regarding his future with the team that maximizes the interests of both parties," Detroit general manager Troy Weaver told Wojnarowski.
While the Pistons wisely want to prioritize their young core over the 31-year-old Griffin, finding a trade partner will be next to impossible.
This version of Griffin resembles more of a current Marc Gasol on offense than the high-flying phenom who racked up 784 dunks over his first four seasons. With his athleticism zapped due to multiple knee surgeries over the past few years, he's averaging 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists and is shooting just 36.5 percent from the field.
Griffin doesn't even try to dunk anymore (zero this season in 20 games) and instead spends much of his time on the perimeter. His defense has also suffered; opponents are converting a whopping 70.7 percent of their shots at the rim when defended by him. He's blocked a total of two shots all season, rim-protection numbers that put him in the company of players like Doug McDermott and Devonte' Graham.
His contract also makes him virtually untradable since the remainder of his $36.6 million salary is to be paid this season with a $39 million player option looming next year.
So why would any team want him, even after a buyout?
Griffin has become quite a good passer over his career, a skill that shouldn't go away even as his other physical attributes diminish. He's an adequate floor-spacer on offense (34.6 percent on catch-and-shoot threes) and would look far better on a minimum deal following a buyout than under his current max deal.
Contenders in need of a power forward who can shoot and create for others from the elbow should show some interest, especially those with a strong defensive center to place next to him.
If and when a buyout comes, these three teams should come calling first.
Griffin could help fill the needs of the Celtics perhaps better than any other team's.
Boston has struggled to find a reliable starter at power forward all season with Daniel Theis, Grant Williams and Semi Ojeleye all taking turns. While Griffin may not be able to handle starter minutes anymore, he'd be a welcome addition to the depth chart.
The Celtics are assisting on just 54.1 percent of their baskets this season, which ranks ahead of only the Portland Trail Blazers. With starting point guard Kemba Walker suffering from his own knee ailments, they could use another willing ball-mover alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Both stars need driving lanes, and Griffin is good enough to keep the floor spread and should be fine taking a backseat offensively when once again operating in a winning environment.
Boston also has some defensive-minded big men (Tristan Thompson, Robert Williams III, Theis) to pair next to Griffin, which would keep him from needing to defend opposing centers.
At 11-15, the Heat need all the help they can get and should be interested in Griffin following a potential buyout. Their offense ranks 26th this season (106.0 points per 100 possessions), which is even lower than the Pistons (108.7).
Miami also lost big man Meyers Leonard to shoulder surgery after just three games, opening up a need for a power forward who can spread the floor.
With Kelly Olynyk and rookie Precious Achiuwa at the position, the Heat could use a 4 who can pass as well as Griffin. Head coach Erik Spoelstra could break his offense wide open using the playmaking ability of Griffin and Bam Adebayo, perhaps forming the league's best big combo in that area.
Speaking of Adebayo, the 23-year-old All-Star and 2019-20 All-Defensive second-teamer is the perfect defensive option to help make up for Griffin's weaknesses. He's fast enough to recover if Griffin's man beats him off the dribble and athletic enough to deny any attempts at the rim.
Returning to a warm-weather city should also appeal to Griffin, especially since he's spent the last three-plus winters in Detroit.
Los Angeles Lakers
The sooner the buyout for Griffin, the better for the Lakers.
With power forward Anthony Davis now sidelined for at least two-to-three weeks with a strained calf, they could use some added depth at the position. His injury could last far longer, of course. Kevin Love was shut down by the Cleveland Cavaliers for the same injury on Dec. 27 and has missed the following 24 games and counting.
The Lakers should let Davis take all the time he needs to recover, which opens up a need for Griffin.
With Kyle Kuzma likely sliding into the starting power forward spot, Griffin would serve as a playmaking reserve 4 who could help create shots for the rest of the bench unit. The veteran's best game of the year came against the Lakers on Jan. 28 when he scored 23 points, handed out six assists and went 5-of-10 from three-point range in a Detroit win.
LeBron James has enjoyed his share of easy baskets off timely passes from Gasol this season, converting 71.4 percent of his shots inside the arc off looks from the 36-year-old center. Griffin would bring a similar skill set and would likewise benefit from playing next to a passing talent like James.
There's also the revenge factor.
Since he was traded out of Los Angeles by the Clippers just months after he signed a five-year deal, there'd be extra motivation for Griffin to win a ring in Staples Center for the Lakers.