Pistons buy out Blake Griffin’s contract; he becomes free agent

Detroit News

Rod Beard | The Detroit News

The Pistons and Blake Griffin announced last month that they would be parting ways.

It’s official now.

The two sides have agreed on a buyout from the last year-plus of Griffin’s contract, a league source confirmed to The Detroit News on Friday morning.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the buyout agreement.

The move allows Griffin to become a free agent after he presumably clears waivers and to look for another team to finish this season. He’ll look to resurrect a career that has been bludgeoned by injuries, but he still can help a contending team.

Griffin, who had knee surgery last season, has worked his way back to playing form, but he doesn’t have the same athleticism that has highlighted his career. Griffin, 31, played in just 20 games this season and posted 12.3 points — a career low — and 5.2 rebounds.

The Pistons and Griffin announced last month that he would remain out of the lineup until the two sides could come to an agreement on a trade or buyout. The trade route seemed unlikely, with Griffin’s contract for $36.6 million this season and a player option for $39 million next season.

More: Pistons flub the encore, post worst record in the East at All-Star break

“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,” Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said in a team statement last month. “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.”

The Pistons are in the midst of a rebuild in Weaver’s first season at the helm. Before the season started, he revamped the roster, with only four players remaining from last season. Last month, he traded one of those players, Derrick Rose, for Dennis Smith Jr. and a second-round draft pick.

Weaver continued the makeover by creating a starting spot for rookie Saddiq Bey with the agreement to keep Griffin out of the lineup. Bey has been one of the Pistons’ key pieces this season, after he was drafted 19th overall.

Griffin has had an up-and-down tenure with the Pistons after arriving in a blockbuster trade at the deadline in January 2018. In the final 25 games that season, he averaged 19.8 points and the Pistons missed the playoffs, but he returned with a flourish the following year.

More: Pistons’ eye-pleasing victory over Raptors teases true potential this team holds

In 2018-19, Griffin had the best season of his career, with 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists, with an eye-popping 36% on 3-pointers. He earned third-team All-NBA honors and his sixth All-Star appearance.

The key to his ascendance was transforming his game from being primarily a dunker and post player to being an all-around facilitator who could hurt defenses from anywhere on the court. He carried the Pistons to a 41-41 record and a playoff appearance, where they were swept by the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round.

Griffin missed the first two games of that series because of a knee injury but returned for the final two games, where he played through the injury and helped the Pistons make a better showing before bowing out.

Stay tuned to detroitnews.com for more on this developing story.

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rod.beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

 

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