Blake Griffin will be in a different uniform sometime soon. Yesterday brought news that the forward would be sitting out of Detroit Pistons games going forward while the front office works to find him a new home. Given Griffin's onerous contract and subpar play this season, a trade will be very difficult. The general consensus is that if Griffin is willing to give up a large chunk of the guaranteed money he's owed this year and next, the Pistons will agree to buy out his contract and he will enter free agency so he can choose his own destination.
Griffin will presumably prioritize the chance to win a championship in that scenario. If he only cared about money, he wouldn't be having discussions with Detroit's front office about a potential move in the first place. So he will be linked to every team with a chance to win it all this year. Griffin isn't the superstar he once was, but his diverse offensive skillset will be enticing for any hopeful championship squad looking for depth down the stretch run.
One such team that can be essentially ruled out right now is the Los Angeles Clippers, the franchise that drafted Griffin back in 2009. His exit from the Clippers was not exactly graceful and a video went viral after the trade of Griffin ignoring Steve Ballmer's attempt to shake hands when his team next played the Pistons.
As listed by Michael Lee, there are plenty of reasons for Griffin to feel bitter about how he was shipped off. Those reasons apparently do not resonate with Stephen A. Smith, who went on First Take today to suggest that Griffin owes an apology to Ballmer and would have to give it if Griffin wanted to join Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in pursuit of a ring.
Smith's argument is that Ballmer doesn't deserve that kind of disrespect because it was the right move to trade Griffin at the time, and Griffin didn't play well enough to prove him wrong.
That is simply a ludicrous angle to take on that situation. Nobody would disagree that it was the right move to trade Griffin, no matter how much he meant to the franchise. The Clippers were not going to be very good with Griffin as their star player after trading Chris Paul, and were on the cusp of a rebuild. Trading Griffin launched that rebuild into motion, leading to the draft picks that would eventually allow them to acquire George and therefore Leonard. This Los Angeles squad wouldn't be the title contender it is now without that trade.
But nobody made the Clippers raise his jersey in a mock retirement ceremony to try and convince him to sign an extension. Nobody made the Clippers compare him to Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi on a freaking t-shirt. Teams don't get to make that kind of pitch to a player then trade him as soon as they're able without some kind of consequence.
Basketball is a business at the end of the day. Griffin knows that and so do the Clippers. That's not what this is about. The Clippers are well within their rights to trade players regardless of how they treated them prior, and the players sign up for that by virtue of their profession. It's not the act itself that was the issue. It was how it came to be.
Griffin is absolutely allowed to be a bit sour about how it all went down. Certainly to the point where he blows off the handshake of the guy who helped make that pitch then green-lit a trade. It's like if an ex made a tearful plea for you to stay, then dumped you less than a year later, and then someone on TV suggests you owe your ex an apology for ignoring a text message asking how you were doing if you want to speak to them again. That analogy got away from me there, but the point is that Griffin got screwed and he shouldn't have to apologize for holding it against the guy who approved it all.
Blake Griffin doesn't owe Steve Ballmer a damn thing.