Less than two weeks away from the trade deadline, the Detroit Pistons made a big splash to its roster, acquiring former No. 1 pick Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Pistons agreed to a deal Monday evening that is sending the Clippers’ five-time All-Star to Detroit in exchange for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a first and second round draft pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
League sources told Wojnarowski that Los Angeles is also sending Brice Johnson and Willie Reed to Detroit. Johnson, the first-year pro out of North Carolina, is averaging 1.4 points per game in just three games played this season. Reed, who’s in his second year from St. Louis, is averaging 4.9 points per outing in 39 games this year.
Prior to the move, the Pistons had been assessing Bradley’s value, who’s in his final year of a four-year, $32-million contract. According to Wojnarowski, protections on Detroit’s 2018 first-round pick include 1-4 in 2018, 2019 and 2020, and unprotected in 2021.
An All-Star from 2011-2015, Griffin is averaging 22.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game in 33 games this season.
Griffin has been battling injuries for much of his career, missing his entire rookie season with a left knee injury. Despite winning Rookie of the Year in 2011, Griffin has not played more than 67 games in a season since 2014-2015. Dealing with a concussion from a Javale McGee elbow to the head, Griffin played just two games in the month of December.
The Clippers signed Griffin to a five-year, $173-million extension this past July, and he’s expected to make $31.8 million next season.
Detroit loses its top scorer in Harris, who’s playing the best ball of his seven-year stint in the NBA. Harris is averaging 18.1 points per game, shooting 45.1 percent from the floor and 40.9 percent from beyond the arc. Harris is set to make $14.8 million next year when he becomes a free agent after next season.
The deal makes sense for the Pistons to free themselves up of some expiring contracts, but many are speculating if the amount of draft picks Detroit gave up, especially the first-round pick, will be worth the risk.
In the midst of an eight-game losing skid, the Pistons are just three games back of Philadelphia for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference. This could be Van Gundy’s final chance with Detroit, so the move to make a late playoff surge, and potentially fill up Little Caesars Arena in the process, is worth the gamble.