The Detroit Pistons announced a conscious uncoupling with Blake Griffin, publicly stating that he’d no longer play until the he and the team agreed upon a trade or a buyout.
Trading Griffin is difficult, given the size of his contract. For instance, it’s too large for the Brooklyn Nets to trade for him without a third team, same the Boston Celtics, both teams who could use the big man’s services.
A buyout is more likely, but I have no answers or predictions for you on that. Anything could happen, depending on how badly Griffin wants to be gone.
The list of suitors for a Free Blake is as long as the list of teams who think they could make the playoffs. Despite Griffin having one of his worst seasons, he’s still a guy who’s performed at an All NBA level, who knows where to be on a basketball court and when to be there, and someone who may improve if he’s on a better team. If Griffin doesn’t have to be the first or second option on a team, then that may allow him to function better within the team’s flow on offense.
Or, he’s just washed. But, if you’re not paying him much to join you, post-buyout, then you care less about that possible downside and way, way more about the possible playoff-series-altering upside of a healthy and rejuvenated Blake Griffin.
So what are some possible landing spots for a free agent Blake?
The Los Angeles Lakers standout as an obvious team because of Anthony Davis’s recent precautionary absences.
The Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, and Portland Trail Blazers also make sense since they’re hopeful title contenders. Griffin in Utah would be fascinating, but I’m not sure if there are enough minutes for him there for that to be the optimal landing. The Los Angeles Clippers are a nonstarter due to how they unceremoniously traded Blake after signing him to a massive extension; and the Phoenix Suns aren’t likely, in my opinion, because of Blake and Chris Paul’s history.
The Sixers are intriguing to me. Doc Rivers, Blake’s old coach, is there, and Griffin would join a team that could use his scoring, and his ability to distribute the ball as a weird complement to Ben Simmons. But, I wonder whether Blake would agree to come off the bench, something the Sixers might prefer him to do.
Fantasy-wise, I don’t think Blake’s value will take a massive upswing once he’s on another team, since they’ll presumably be a contender and will already have good players ahead of him in their hierarchy and shot distribution. Griffin has played in 20 of 27 games, and he still hasn’t dunked, but he isn’t DEAD. He’ll be a useful addition to a good team (Portland would be sweet). I wouldn’t necessarily sell him in fantasy if you already have him on your roster; I’d say hold until you know where he’s going. You could be pleasantly surprised.
For the Pistons, no Griffin obviously shakes up the rotation. He’s been averaging 30 minutes per game over the past month; those minutes are now up for grabs. I expect we’ll see more of sophomore Sekou Doumbouya (less than 1% rostered in ESPN leagues) and rookie front court player Isaiah Stewart (less than 2% rostered), along with a much larger role for rookie wing Saddiq Bey (less than 10% rostered) who just had a monster 30 and 12 game against the Celtics last Friday. Josh Jackson, 31% rostered, should also see more minutes. He’s well worth rostering.
If the Pistons give all of Blake’s minutes to the youngsters, as we all expect them to do, then go pick up some extremely available young players who should be seeing a lot of volume for the rest of the season. (I especially love Saddiq Bey, FWIW.)