The Blake Griffin era in Detroit Pistons history has concluded. The organization and the six-time All-Star recently agreed to a buyout settlement making him a free agent. What a year. First, it was Derrick Rose and Matthew Stafford skipping town, and now Griffin becomes the latest Detroit star to depart.
Griffin will need to pass through waivers before becoming an unrestricted free agent on Sunday, March 7th. Griffin is owed $37 million in total this season and a whopping $39 million next, which would be the final year of his lucrative deal.
With the Detroit Pistons still at ground zero of their rebuild, this move comes as no surprise.
Team owner Tom Gores went all in trying to pair a couple of future Hall Of Famers in Griffin and Derrick Rose with Andre Drummond in hopes of making a playoff run; things didn’t work out.
Although the Griffin-experience in Detroit never made it to fruition, I will forever be grateful for his remarkable 2018-19 season. Not only had it been a career-year for Griffin, but the star forward also pulled a lackluster roster to a playoff birth.
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The Pistons would be quickly swept out of the playoffs nearly as fast as they entered the competition, and Griffin would only play in Detroit’s two home games due to a leg injury. Not many stars would have appeared in the series down 2-0 to a stellar Milwaukee Bucks team, but Griffin admirable limped his way around his home court. He’d exit for the final time in game four to a roaring Detroit fanbase who’d embrace his effort with a standing ovation.
Griffin played 75 games in that season, something he hadn’t done since 2013-14 but also averaged a career-high 24.5 points per game. Not only was Griffin scoring, but he’d become an excellent facilitator averaging 5.4 assists along with pulling down 7.5 boards, all while shooting 46% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc.
It had been some time since we’ve seen this type of star in a Detroit Pistons uniform.
Blake Griffin returns $13.3 million to the Detroit Pistons in a buyout agreement.
This leaves the Detroit Pistons with a couple of options moving forward.
The organization could stretch out next year’s $39 million against the cap over the next three seasons, which would account for a $13 million cap hit in each season. Or Detroit could simply eat the whole $39 million cap hit next season, washing their hands of the deal.
As the Athletic’s James Edwards III mentions, the organization is prepared to take on the entire cap hit for the 2021-22 season.
It’s a good move by the organization to shoulder the cap hit next season, play their young players, and hope they continue to develop. It also allows Pistons’ general manager Troy Weaver one more offseason to continue to build the foundation of this franchise before he’s ready to spend on a max player in free agency.
By 2022, or 2023 the Detroit Pistons will have an opportunity and the funds to add a difference-maker to accompany a youthful roster headlined by Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, and a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.