Detroit is playing their inaugural season in the brand-new, downtown Little Ceasars Arena and had just lost eight games in a row to fall from fourth place to ninth place in the Eastern Conference. Stan Van Gundy is in his fourth year as GM/Coach and the high water mark was a four game sweep in the 2016 playoffs. Sounds like a team making a deal from a place of power.
In steps the logo and new pseudo GM, Jerry West, to take advantage of a potentially desperate team. Ballmer, West and the Clippers unload potentially one of the worst NBA contracts in Blake Griffin, who will earn $36.5 million in 2020/21 and $39 million in 2021/22. Griffin not played over 70 games since 2013/14 and is messing with the Kardashian curse (see Reggie Bush, Tristan Thompson, Lamar Odom, etc). His athleticism is clearly diminishing as he is sporting his worst field goal percentage at 44% of his career and only a meager 33 dunks through the first half of the season that is tied for 46th in the NBA with Al Horford and Jaylen Brown. Can Blake be energized by this trade and lead the Pistons to a 6th/7th seed in a weaker Eastern Conference? Sure. But, this contract will definitely be an albatross around the neck of the Pistons for years to come as their is no way he ever plays above the value of his contract.
What did the Clippers get from the Pistons as a part of this fleecing? They got Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban, a first-round, and second-round pick. These pieces include a rising star and either great trading chips or solid building blocks. Tobias Harris is a solid second or third piece on a team at 25 years old, improving each year, and a reasonable $16 million owed next year. Bradley is on an expiring contract that could be an enticing trade target for a very specific team that needs to add a defensive point guard (**COUGH**COUGH**CLEVELAND**). The first round pick will most likely be mid-tier in the range of where Zach Collins, Bam Adebayo, Chris Lavert, and Terry Rozier have all been drafted. Obviously, there is no sure thing in the middle of the first round, but if you assume Jerry West and Lawrence Frank are better than your average GM, then this could be a valuable asset.
Lastly, let’s go to the trade machine for the next potential move for the Clippers. What team can West take advantage next by moving Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, and picks. Is there a more desperate GM than the Pelicans following the Cousins injury, Cousins to LA is a possibility.
Back from the Dead,