Omari Sankofa II | Detroit Free Press
The Pistons and Griffin settled on a buyout, the Free Press confirmed.
The move was later announced by the team Friday afternoon. They would not disclose the terms of the buyout.
The Athletic reports that Griffin gave back $13.3 million of the approximate $75 million he was owed from the Pistons.
“Blake has been a great representative for our franchise and for the city of Detroit,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a released statement. “His work ethic and his approach to the game contributed a lot to our culture. He has been a consummate pro and we wish him continued success. I’m grateful for everything he did for our team and for our community.”
Griffin, who turns 32 on March 16, will become an unrestricted free agent after he clears waivers and free to pick his next destination. The Lakers, Clippers, Nets, Heat and Warriors are among the teams interested in Griffin once he clears waivers, according to the New York Times.
“Blake’s NBA resume speaks for itself,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said in the statement. “He’s a player I’ve respected for many years from afar and it was great to have the opportunity to coach him here in Detroit. Contending teams will love to have a guy like him in their program, which is an opportunity he deserves at this point of his career, and we wish him the best.”
It’s a tepid end to Griffin’s career in Detroit, as the six-time All-Star is in the midst of a down season after missing most of his 2019-20 campaign due to left knee surgery. In 20 games with the Pistons this season, he averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists, shooting 36.5% and 31.5% from 3-point range.
Griffin wants to play for a playoff contender while the rebuilding Pistons, 10-26 and last in the conference standings, want to prioritize the development of their young players. On Feb. 15, the two sides agreed Griffin would be away from the team while they worked on a resolution, either via buyout or trade.
“We wanted to make sure everybody is going in the right direction, and it became clear that Blake wanted to play meaningful games and he’s worked so hard to give some back,” general manager Troy Weaver told the Free Press at the time. “While we want to take care of him and get him in a situation where he can play those meaningful games, play for a contender, it also helps us to continue our restoring and see our other guys and get them opportunities in actual games to help their development.”
Griffin’s performance this season has been a significant decline from his 2018-19 season, when he averaged a career-best 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists and earned third-team All-NBA honors while guiding the Pistons to the playoffs.
“I thank the Pistons organization for working together on an outcome that benefits all involved and I wish the franchise success in the future,” Griffin said in the released statement.
Former Pistons coach and team president Stan Van Gundy traded for Griffin ahead of the 2018 deadline, sending Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and future first- and second-round draft picks to the Los Angeles Clippers.
It was something of a Hail Mary move by Van Gundy and owner Tom Gores, who wanted to bring a star to Detroit. Van Gundy wasn’t around for the playoff berth Griffin helped the Pistons achieve the following season, fired at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season.
Injuries ultimately spelled the end of Griffin’s career with the Pistons. A gimpy left knee caused him to miss games late in the 2019 season and the first two games of the first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks in 2019. He played the final two games in front of a home crowd at Little Caesars Arena, and then underwent surgery after the Pistons were eliminated.
Left knee issues continued to plague him the following season, and he underwent surgery again in January 2020, ending his season after 18 games.
While he hasn’t played at his usual level this season, he still has support from Pistons head coach Dwane Casey, who believes he can be a difference-maker for a playoff team.
“He can be a piece to a contending team,” Casey said. “I’ve been with contending teams, and you’d love to have a guy like Blake Griffin on your team.”
ESPN was first to report the buyout Friday.