Somewhat lost in Monday’s Andre Drummond to the Toronto Raptors trade rumours was news that Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin is reportedly on his way out of town.
Griffin and the Pistons have reportedly agreed to move the six-time All-Star out of the lineup and will focus on pursuing trade scenarios or a buyout, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Three years ago news of Griffin hitting the trade market would have sent shockwaves throughout the league. Back then he was in the midst of a career year, averaging 24.5 points per game en route to an All-NBA Third team selection. Since then, however, Griffin’s body has betrayed him. He’s played in just 39 games over the past two years and his scoring and shooting numbers have fallen off a cliff.
This season, Griffin is averaging just 12.3 points per game on 36.5% shooting, and saddest of all, the 2011 dunk contest champion who could seemingly dunk over anyone hasn’t dunked in an NBA game since December 12, 2019.
Trading Griffin won’t be an easy feat. He’ll collect $36.6 million this year and $39 million next season on his current contract. While there’s no doubt he was once worth that kind of cap hit, those days appear to be well behind him. The most realistic path forward is likely through a buyout in which Griffin agrees to take less money in order to hit free agency this season.
If the Pistons can find a trade partner it won’t be with Toronto. The Raptors place too much value on their future cap flexibility to spend it on a declining asset like Griffin and the salary cap machinations of a trade wouldn’t make sense for Toronto.
The buyout market for Griffin, however, might be a little bit more interesting for the Raptors. The fact that the team will play its remaining games in Tampa, Florida, a state with no state income tax, could lure a free agent to join the team. Toronto will also have frontcourt minutes up for grabs for any big looking to reestablish value ahead of the 2021 offseason.
While the prospect of adding Griffin may seem enticing, his better days are certainly behind him. He’s more of a true power forward than a small-ball centre and considering the Raptors’ need for a true big, he doesn’t quite fit the criteria.