Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin looking to part ways through buyout or trade

Detroit Free Press

Marlowe Alter | Detroit Free Press

As Detroit’s pro teams begin rebuilds in earnest, the veteran stars are looking elsewhere.

First, Matthew Stafford. Now, Blake Griffin.

The former six-time All-Star’s time with the Detroit Pistons is coming to an end, after the team and player agreed he will be out of the lineup until a resolution on his future is reached, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said in a statement Monday.

“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,” Weaver said. “We respect all the effort Blake has put forth in Detroit and his career and will work to achieve a positive outcome for all involved.”

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“I am grateful to the Pistons for understanding what I want to accomplish in my career and for working together on the best path forward,” Griffin said in his statement.

Griffin’s mammoth contract makes a trade difficult. His cap hit is $36.8 million this season, and he holds a player option for $38.9 million in 2021-22. A buyout would allow him to seek a new team this season, while the Pistons would get out from his contract next season, opening up cap savings.

Griffin, who turns 32 on March 16, is a diminished player from his 2019 All-Star form, averaging 12.3 points this season with 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists, shooting a dreadful 36.5% overall and 31.5% from 3-point range (6.2 attempts per game) in 20 games for the Pistons (8-19). His 3.1 free-throw attempts per game are by far the lowest of his career.

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The Pistons, under president and head coach Stan Van Gundy, traded for Griffin in January of 2018 and dealt Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and future first- and second-round draft picks to the Los Angeles Clippers. Griffin was in his first year of a five-year, $171 million deal signed months earlier.

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The Pistons did not make the playoffs in 2018, and Van Gundy — who had one year left on his deal — was fired by owner Tom Gores after the two could not agree on how to move forward.

The Clippers used those assets and remade their franchise into a title contender in less than two years. They acquired point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with the Pistons’ pick in the 2018 draft, and a year later, traded Harris to Philadelphia for more future picks. In the summer of 2019, they used Gilgeous-Alexander and picks to acquire Paul George from Oklahoma City to pair with Kawhi Leonard.

ESPN was first to report Monday’s news.

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