The Clippers have exceeded expectations so far this season with a record of 25-24 in the wake of Chris Paul’s off-season departure, but team officials decided to begin an aggressive roster shake-up with a major trade.
The question, though, is what kind of value they can get in return. Williams, perhaps surprisingly, seems like the more attractive player. With a much smaller contract to move (he’s making $7 million), it’s easier to find a home for him, and there are a slew of teams that could use another shot creator like him coming off their bench (the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards and Sixers to name three). If Los Angeles can get a first-rounder for Williams, the Clippers should pull the trigger, even if it has to take on some money that spills into next season to do so.
The deal, which was first reported by ESPN, will send Griffin, Willie Reed and Brice Johnson to the Pistons for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a first- and second-round draft pick, according to two people with knowledge of the trade who were not authorized to speak publicly because it had not yet been announced.
He has covered Jordan. He’s covered Kobe. And LeBron vs. the Warriors. Go behind the N.B.A.’s curtain with the league’s foremost expert in a new basketball newsletter.
The trade came just seven months after Griffin signed a five-year, $171 million contract to stay with the Clippers.
Clippers trade Blake Griffin to Detroit Pistons, and more moves may follow
The team referred to Griffin as “a lifelong Clipper” in the free-agent recruiting pitch it made to him last summer, but the club abruptly changed course when it had the opportunity to acquire two starting-caliber players from the Pistons in Harris and Bradley as well as Detroit’s first-round pick in June’s draft.
With eight seasons of service time and four seasons with the same team, Griffin met the N.B.A.’s requirements for a no-trade clause in his contract. But the Clippers were able to keep a no-trade clause out of his new contract because of the high dollar amount and long-term nature of the deal, which naturally appealed to Griffin after a series of injuries that cost him his entire rookie season in 2009-10 and limited him to an average of 67 games over the past seven seasons.
“Needed a night to digest and reflect on what happened….” Griffin tweeted. “From being a (hashtag)1 pick, to Lob City, to six straight Playoff appearances, I am so proud to have been part of the success of the Clippers organization. LA has been my home since I started in the league and I will be forever grateful to the city for embracing me and supporting me. To the fans, you have been awesome every step of the way. Thank you for years of support.
Pistons land Griffin from Clippers as LA sheds another star
The N.B.A. trade deadline is Feb. 8. The Clippers are also expected to continue to field trade offers for center DeAndre Jordan and the veteran guard Lou Williams.
“Those guys are flying in here tonight, they’ll get physical tomorrow, so I think from our end, we’ll be good,” Van Gundy said Tuesday at Detroit’s practice facility in Auburn Hills. “But I don’t know if we’ll be good from their end. The players have 48 hours to report, but then they’ve got another 24 hours, the organization, to get the physical done. … Now, if the 72 hours expires with six minutes to go in the game, we’ll run him in there.”
We’re interested in your feedback on this page. Tell us what you think.
Blake Griffin was the face of the Clippers. Trading him was stunning — and smart
The Clippers, in a trade they believe keeps them competitive and gives them a future with assets and financial flexibility, sent Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons for three players and a pair of draft picks on Monday.
Blake Griffin Seems Shocked the Pistons Gave Up So Much For Him
The Clippers acquired two starters in guard Avery Bradley and forward Tobias Harris and also received backup center Boban Marjanovic, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2019 second-rounder.
But adding a player of Griffin’s gifts and wattage comes at a cost, and a dear one. Harris had developed into a dependable top scorer and supplementary creator owed a team-friendly $14.8 million next season. That first-rounder could wind up being a lottery pick in five months (or a year from now, or a year after that, and so on, through 2021). And while we just got definitive proof that Blake’s contract is not untradeable, Van Gundy has now assumed the Clippers’ downside risk. The Pistons are now on the hook for $141.7 million through 2022 for a player who hasn’t played 70 games since 2014, who comes bearing a bracing history of left knee issues, and who by himself doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything more than your team being pretty good.
The first-round pick is protected if it’s in the top four in 2018, 2019 and 2020, according to one NBA executive not authorized to speak publicly, meaning the Pistons would keep it until it falls out of the top four, or until 2021 when the pick is unprotected.
Clippers owner Steve Ballmer was on board with the deal that was spearheaded last week by Lawrence Frank, the Clippers’ president of basketball operations, and that also sent reserve center Willie Reed and seldom-used forward Brice Johnson to the Pistons.
“Blake Griffin had a tremendous impact on this organization and his legacy within the community of Los Angeles will be permanent,” Ballmer said in a statement. “It was a pleasure getting to know and cheer for Blake. I wish him, as well as Brice and Willie, the best of luck.
And they were together for life, at least until Griffin suffered a knee injury at the end of November and missed 14 games and Frank realized exactly what they had purchased. Griffin was flashy, but he will not play a full season for the fifth time in eight years. He was a force, but the team actually seem to play just as well without him, going 8-8 in games in which he didn’t appear, which almost mirrors its 25-24 record.
“While change is hard, my confidence in our front office, led by Lawrence Frank and Michael Winger, along with the sage counsel of Jerry West, has never been higher. I believe today, more than ever, in our ultimate goal of winning an NBA Championship.”
And the Clippers may not be done making deals before the Feb. 8 deadline. Center DeAndre Jordan and high-scoring sixth man Lou Williams could be traded if L.A. can get the draft picks and young players that it desires, according to NBA executives.
The Clippers have had discussions with Jordan about a contract extension, but the sides have not come to an agreement, according to the executives. The Clippers wanted Jordan, who will earn $22.6 million this season, to use next year’s player option for $24.1 million and then sign an extension. But Jordan has been opposed to doing that.
Detroit Pistons acquire Blake Griffin in blockbuster trade
The Clippers also have had contract talks with Williams, who is making $7 million this season, but again the two sides have not come to an agreement.
‘Let the trades begin sheeeesh’: NBA players react to Blake Griffin-Pistons news
The Clippers are expected to continue contract conversations with both Jordan and Williams. One executive said they are looking to improve in both the short and long term. But if they remain outside the playoff picture — they sit a half-game behind Denver for the eighth spot in the West — the Clippers, who have their own first-round pick, could have two lottery selections in this year’s NBA draft.
If it wasn’t clear that the Pistons, four games under .500 in the East, are in win-now mode then it certainly is now. “We are serious about winning, and this is a major move to improve our team,” Pistons owner Tom Gores told NBA.com. “Blake Griffin is one of the NBA’s elite players, and when you get an opportunity to add that kind of talent, you take it.”
Stan Van Gundy foreshadowed Blake Griffin trade, which is a shot in the dark
It’s the end of an era, which has been the most successful in Clippers history, with the exit of Griffin and last summer’s trade of Chris Paul.
Griffin signed a five-year, $171-million extension that summer, but the Clippers have struggled with injuries all season, including to Griffin, who missed 14 games with a knee sprain. Injuries marred Griffin’s nine years in L.A. from the start — a knee fracture wiped out his entire first season, and the 6-10, 250-pound forward failed to finish each of the Clippers’ past two playoff runs, cementing the team’s failure to advance past the second round.
Heading to L.A. are Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a first and second-round draft pick. The Clipper sent Brice Johnson and Willie Reed to Detroit in addition to Griffin.
The Clippers acquired one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA in Bradley, who has made the NBA’s All-Defensive team twice and is averaging 15 points a game. Bradley, who was traded to Detroit by Boston last July, spent three years playing for Clippers coach Doc Rivers when he was the Celtics’ coach.
Just 27, he’s in the last year of his deal that pays him $8.8 million and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Harris, 25, averaged a career-high 18.1 points to go with 5.1 rebounds for the Pistons this season. The 6-foot-9, 235-pounder can play both small and power forward.
Blake Griffin trade is the rare blockbuster deal that might not help either team
Harris will earn $16 million this season and $14.8 million in the last year of his deal in 2018-19.
Marjanovic is a 7-3 center who averaged 5.7 points and 3.5 rebounds in limited action in two years in Detroit. The third-year player from Serbia is under contract this season and next before becoming a free agent.
The Clippers gained about $1.6 million in payroll space by sending out about $32.2 million in the salaries of Griffin, Reed and Johnson while taking in about $30.6 million in the contracts of Bradley, Harris and Marjanovic.
The Clippers like the financial flexibility they get this summer and after the 2018-19 season, when they’ll have cap space to go after someone like Golden State’s Klay Thompson, who’ll be an unrestricted free agent.
9:10 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information, including contract details.