Ex-Detroit Pistons core big men Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin cement fall from grace

Detroit Free Press

There were a handful of former Detroit Pistons to hit NBA free agency this week, including the core of the franchise’s last playoff team two years ago.

Two of those former players, Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, were signed to max contracts on their last long-term deals. This week, both signed for the veteran’s minimum, a stark downfall.

Reggie Jackson, the Pistons’ former point guard, remains on the market despite his stellar postseason run with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Let’s take a look at where the former Pistons have landed with additional stats and analysis (Deals can become official Friday at 12:01 p.m.):

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Andre Drummond to Philly?!

Drummond has seen his value fall off a cliff as the league continues to evolve, and that continued with his signing for the veteran’s minimum ($2.4 million) with the Philadelphia 76ers for one year. It’s a shocking and hilarious pairing, because he will now back up his nemesis Joel Embiid, the league MVP runner-up last season.

Recall this tweet from less than three years ago:

Though the rivalry was a war of words and great fun for fans, it seemed to be good-natured, as the two would dap up and laugh on the court. Now, they’ll be cheering each other on as the 76ers look to bounce back from their latest playoff failing.

Drummond, who turns 28 next week, has been a nomad since being dumped by the Pistons at the 2020 trade deadline to Cleveland in exchange for expiring contracts and a 2023 second-round pick.

He was bought out last season by Cleveland after they could not find a trade partner, then signed for the rest of the year with the Lakers, where he started and averaged 11.9 points and 10.2 rebounds in 24.8 minutes over 21 games (53.1% shooting, 60.5% on free throws).

But he was unable to help the Lakers advance in the playoffs, despite averages of nine points on 59.4% shooting and 11 rebounds in five games vs. Phoenix, playing 21 minutes per night. He was the only active Laker not to play in Game 6, a season-ending loss.

Drummond, whose last contract with the Pistons in 2016 paid him $127 million over five years, is a younger and more productive version of Dwight Howard — and just as mercurial. Howard had a solid season as Embiid’s backup, but is signing with the Lakers for his third tour of duty.

With Embiid’s lengthy injury history and the Sixers’ cautious approach, Drummond will receive spot starts on a team with championship aspirations, and will have a chance to increase his value entering next summer’s market — just as long as he’s not paired with Ben Simmons.

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Derrick Rose’s long-term deal with New York

Derrick Rose’s nearly one-and-a-half seasons with the Pistons helped further his rebuilt reputation. Now, it’s paying off.

Rose, who turns 33 in October, is re-upping for three years and $43 million with the New York Knicks.

Rose’s acquisition — in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr. and Charlotte’s second-round pick, which became Isaiah Livers at No. 42 overall — helped the Knicks capture the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, where they were promptly dispatched in five games by Atlanta.

In 35 games with New York, Rose averaged 14.9 points (48.7% shooting, 41.1% from 3 on 2.6 attempts per game) and 4.2 assists as a spark plug off the bench in 26.8 minutes per game.

He was even better in the playoffs, moving into the starting lineup for the final three games and averaging 19.4 points (47.6% shooting, 47.1% from 3 on 3.4 attempts per game) and five assists over 35 minutes per game.

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Blake Griffin back to Brooklyn

The ill-fated Griffin trade with the Los Angeles Clippers in January, 2018 ended up setting the Pistons back years, but ultimately led to the promising rebuild they’re now in.

Still, it hurt when the Pistons were left without any options other than to buy-out Griffin’s final years. Griffin, 32, gave back $13 million of the $75 million he was owed from the Pistons, but carries a $30 million dead cap hit this year on Detroit’s books that expires next summer.

He promptly signed with Brooklyn and looked refreshed, though still far from the All-Star campaign with the Pistons just two years earlier.

He started dunking again — he hadn’t done that in two years — usurped the starting center role and was the primary defender against Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, helping the injury riddled Nets stay afloat in what became an epic seven-game East semifinal series. He played 40 minutes in Game 7, posting 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Griffin is back with the Nets on a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum.

He started all 12 postseason games for the Nets, averaging nine points (53.2% shooting, 38.9% from 3 on 3.6 attempts per game, 14-for-36), 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists over 26.5 minutes per game.

In 26 games in the regular season (10 starts), he averaged 10 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists, shooting 38.3% from 3 on 3.1 attempts per game over 21.5 minutes.

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Bruce Brown Jr. also returns to Brooklyn

After a nice season moonlighting as a big man on offense, Bruce Brown Jr. is returning to the Nets on a one-year deal for his qualifying offer of $4.7 million.

Brown, who turns 25 in August, worked his way into the starting lineup as a complementary piece to the Nets’ stars, finishing the regular season with averages of 8.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.9 steals in 22.3 minutes per game over 65 games (37 starts). He shot 55.6% overall but an abysmal 28.8% from 3 (17-for-59).

In 12 playoff games (five starts), he played 23.1 minutes and collected 7.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists, shooting 50.6% overall and hitting 2 of 11 3-pointers.

In Troy Weaver’s first trade as Pistons general manager last fall, he dealt Brown to the Nets for Dzanan Musa, a 2021 second-round pick (which became No. 37 overall and used to get off Mason Plumlee) and cash considerations, though the deal later expanded to include Luke Kennard and the first-round pick that became Saddiq Bey.

Reggie Bullock to help Luka Doncic in Dallas

Reggie Bullock was a nice find by the Stan Van Gundy-led front office in the middle of last decade, and he has continued to impress. He is richer because of it, agreeing to a three-year, $30.5 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks. His agent told USA TODAY Sports that Bullock found the fit appealing for numerous reasons, “including Luka Doncic’s star power, the hiring of Jason Kidd as head coach, Mark Cuban’s ownership presence, his potential role and no state income tax.”

Bullock, 30, averaged 10.9 points and shot 41% from 3 on 6.1 attempts per game last season as a full-time starter for the Knicks.

The Pistons traded him to the Lakers at the 2019 deadline for Svi Mykhailiuk and a 2021 second-round pick, which they used to select Luka Garza at No. 52.

Wayne Ellington to Hollywood

Wayne Ellington will once again be a Laker, agreeing to a one-year deal. He’ll provide outside shooting for a team desperate for it, after the addition of noted brick-layer Russell Westbrook.

Ellington, who played with the Lakers in 2014-15, shot 42.2% from 3 on six attempts per game last season with the Pistons, averaging 9.6 points in 22 minutes over 46 appearances (31 starts).

The 33-year-old is a career 38.2% shooter from 3-point range over 14 seasons.

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