Four Potential Landing Spots For Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin's time in a Detroit Pistons uniform appears to be coming to an end. On Monday afternoon, Adrian Wojnarowski reported the team agreed to keep Griffin out of the lineup while they work with his team to figure out his immediate future. Presumably, that future does not include suiting up for the Pistons again.
Griffin will be difficult to trade. The 31-year-old has looked washed this season, mustering a statline of only 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game while averaging 31 minutes per contest. There may be a team out there willing to take a swing and see if Griffin can regain his 2018-19 form, when the big man averaged 24 PPG while shooting 36 percent from beyond the arc. But his contract will be an even bigger detriment than his current play; Griffin is owed $36 million this year and has a player option for $38 million next year that he will almost certainly accept. Either way, Griffin's only role as a player at this point in his career is as a scoring spark off the bench, considering he can't defend worth a lick on top of all his other flaws.
The Pistons want that contract off their books one way or the other, but as a rebuilding team they will absolutely not attach draft picks to Griffin to make the trade happen. Therefore, a buyout is the most realistic option here, but there are a few teams on the cusp of playoff contention who could talk themselves into a trade. A buyout might also require some give-and-take from Griffin's camp, as laid out by ESPN's Bobby Marks here.
Basically, Griffin can either get paid by Detroit, give a bunch of that money back if he wants to play for a contender, or sit quietly hoping somebody will come calling with the salary matching and draft picks required to complete a transaction for his services. The last of those options is supremely unlikely when you look around the league and try to find a team that has the means and motivation to make a deal.
So here are four landing spots for Griffin, franchises that will likely come calling when Griffin hits free agency as a buyout option. These are also teams that could theoretically trade for Griffin if a third team was included and the desperation level reached maximum overdrive, although it is again very unlikely that will happen.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers will be looking for depth at forward no matter what the diagnosis is for Anthony Davis after the superstar aggravated an Achilles injury last night. If Griffin is of the ring-chasing mindset, the Lakers are the obvious choice. Life would be easy for a passer of his caliber if he were on the floor with LeBron James and Griffin can play with Marc Gasol if his shot is falling. The Lakers also present the best chance for Griffin to directly stick it to his former franchise across town after the Clippers raised his jersey to the rafters seven months before trading him.
The Rockets sure could use another playmaking forward with Christian Wood out, and what better landing spot for Griffin than Houston's Home For Former All-Stars? Griffin would join John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins trying to regain former forms while being a part of a roster good enough to win some games in the process. No ring guarantee here, but Griffin would be given a lot of minutes and the Rockets will be, at the very least, a competitive team this season, even if they aren't destined for a deep playoff run.
What's better than having one oft-injured forward? Having two oft-injured forwards! Kristaps Porzingis is constantly on the mend for one reason or another and Luka Doncic needs help if the Mavericks are to improve upon their first-round playoff exit last season. The Mavs aren't title favorites but teaming up with a guy like Doncic means your team has a chance regardless, and Griffin would get minutes down the stretch to keep Porzingis rested for postseason basketball. It certainly won't help their defense problems, but neither will Andre Drummond, and Griffin will be less expensive if he ends up on the buyout market.
An unexciting option for everyone who doesn't live in the Carolinas, but a very realistic one. The Hornets could definitely make the playoffs as a low seed this year, and Griffin could help them do that by stabilizing the offense when one of LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, or Terry Rozier need a break. Michael Jordan likes his big brand names (even if Griffin's flashy play has been gone for a while) and the front office wants to make a push for the postseason. Griffin is fine depth at worst and a valuable bench scorer as best.