Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin Discusses Trade, Pistons’ Future, More

Barring a miracle, the 31-39 Pistons won’t make the playoffs this season, but Blake Griffin remains optimistic about the club’s longer-term outlook. In a conversation with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Griffin said that he thinks the team will be “very good” next season.

“This summer we will have a chance to really jell, figure stuff out,” Griffin said. “I think the ceiling of this team is very, very high. We have a lot of different guys who can do a lot of different things who can affect the game in a lot of different ways. Getting Reggie [Jackson] back will be huge.”

[RELATED: Pistons reportedly interested in Chauncey Billups for front office role]

While the Pistons have struggled since acquiring Griffin, getting a full offseason with the new-look roster in place could pay off. Last season, the Pelicans were unable to make a late-season run after trading for DeMarcus Cousins at the deadline, but New Orleans – with and without Cousins – has looked much better this year. The Pistons will be looking to follow that model.

As for Griffin, he discussed a few other aspects of his midseason change of address with Spears, acknowledging that he would have approached free agency a little differently last July if he knew the Clippers would consider trading him just a few months later. Here are a few more of Griffin’s noteworthy comments from the conversation:

On the Clippers’ decision to trade him:

“You always hear guys say that, ‘Basketball is a business,’ and all that. It’s so much different when you have had a relationship with a certain amount of people for so long and been at a place for so long. Someone always promises you this is what we are doing and six months later … It shows people’s true colors. Other than that, at the end of the day, you have to realize it’s a business.”

On why it didn’t take him long to get over being traded:

“If I wasn’t happy with where I was at or excited to be here, it would take a little bit longer. But as soon as I got here to Detroit, the franchise, the way they go about taking care of the players, the way they do everything, is first-class. So, that makes the transition much easier. Stan [Van Gundy] and the whole staff has been awesome. I’m not looking back.

“I haven’t put much thought into it, to be honest. I’ve been so focused on making this transition and [adjusting] to this change that I haven’t put that much thought into it. I never want to be in a place where I’m not wanted. Coming here made me realize what a franchise looks like.”

On what advice he would give to stars entering free agency:

“You have to make the best decision for you, personally. If fans are upset, if one or two people are not super-supportive or aren’t on board with that, you have to live with it. You have to be somewhere where you enjoy it.”

Central Notes: Bullock, Griffin, Van Gundy, Cavs

Pistons‘ starting swingman Reggie Bullock suffered minor injuries after being involved in a two-car motor vehicle accident this morning on his way to practice, reports Rod Beard of The Detroit News. He wasn’t seriously injured but was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Bullock, who was on his way to the Pistons’ practice facility in Auburn Hills, was also apparently the victim of a hit-and-run, as head coach Stan Van Gundy tells Beard that “the other driver took off” after the collision. Bullock did not practice, but will travel with the team on their upcoming six-game road trip.

Bullock, 26, has had somewhat of a breakthrough season for the underachieving Pistons, averaging 10.7 points per game and shooting 43% from long range in 41 starts.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN worries that the Pistons‘ newly-acquired Blake Griffin may be the league’s new version of Carmelo Anthony – a player paid like a superstar but not producing at a level high enough to build a consistently successful team around. And as Pelton points out, paying a player who is not quite a superstar like one of the league’s best players makes it difficult to win because it takes away the financial flexibility necessary to build a team around the overpaid player.
  • In more Pistons‘ news, team owner Tom Gores ambiguously hinted that Van Gundy make not be back next season, reports Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News. Speaking at halftime of Detroit’s win over Chicago on Friday, Gores said, “Stan and I have not discussed (whether he will be the coach next season). I believe in Stan, but he’s a team player, so we’re gonna see. He’ll do exactly the right thing for this franchise. But right now he’s busy coaching this team. We’ll go from there.”
  • In a wide-ranging piece on the Cavaliers, Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer discusses the rumored timetable for the return of Kevin Love from injury, the importance of a starting role for newly-acquired swingman Rodney Hood, and more details on the trade that brought Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. from Los Angeles to Cleveland.

Central Notes: Griffin, Jackson, Butler, Gudaitis

While the Pistons remain within striking distance of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, privately the organization’s focus is on the 2018/19 season, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press writes. Most of the Pistons’ remaining schedule is on the road and Detroit hasn’t played well as the visiting team.

The Pistons acquired All-Star Blake Griffin from the Clippers before the deadline, a move that signaled a late attempt to keep battling for the postseason. Realistically, Griffin was acquired as a future piece to help the team contend beyond this season. However, whether or not the team can make a competitive run to end the season likely hinges on Reggie Jackson. Jackson is nearing a return from an ankle sprain.

“He is progressing, we’re hopeful those practices before the West Coast trip that we’ll get him back,” head coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I think anything earlier than that would be an unexpected bonus.”

Check out other Central Division notes below:

  • Speaking of Jackson’s return, this past Monday marked two months since he last played in an NBA game. If he does practice prior to the West Coast trip, and it goes off without a hitch, the Pistons can expect Jackson back by mid-March, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes.
  • When Jimmy Butler collapsed with a meniscus injury last Friday, it evoked bad memories for his former coach Fred Hoiberg and recent torn ACL returnee Zach LaVine, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago writes. LaVine tore his ACL last season and returned a few weeks ago; Hoiberg saw Butler suffer a similar injury that only cost him a few weeks in his first season as Bulls coach. Butler underwent surgery and will be sidelined for four to six weeks.
  • Cavaliers draft-and-stash player Arturas Gudaitis recently signed an extension with Olimpia Milano until 2021, per Sportando. However, Gudaitis, who was acquired in a three-team deal with the Kings and Jazz, holds NBA opt-outs in both 2019 and 2020 worth $650K.

Central Rumors: Griffin, Pistons, Giannis, Terry

The Pistons lost five of their last six games entering Monday’s contest against the Raptors but Hornets coach Steve Clifford endorses Detroit’s Blake Griffin gamble, as Keith Langlois of reports. Griffin is the type of player who can make a difference in the postseason, according to Clifford. “The NBA is about winning in the playoffs, right? When you’re a coach, you look at it like this. Tie score in a Game 7, there’s 12 seconds on the clock, Blake Griffin’s one of the … I don’t know, 12 to 15 guys in the league that you can’t guard one on one,” Clifford said. “The guys they gave up are terrific, OK, but they’re not go-to, Game-7-of-a-series guys that are going to dictate a double team. That’s the number one thing you have to have to win big and that’s what they picked up.”

In other news around the Central Division:

  • The Pistons’ bench has been outscored by its counterparts by an average of 21.1 points over the last six games. Coach Stan Van Gundy has tried a number of different combinations but nothing has worked. Detroit’s reserve unit has struggled since point guard Ish Smith was forced into the starting lineup after Reggie Jackson suffered a severe ankle sprain in late December.  “The biggest problem is it’s become a lower-energy lineup,” Van Gundy told Hoops Rumors.
  • The Bucks have locked up Giannis Antetokounmpo through the 2020/21 season but he has no desire to go to a big city like Los Angeles anyway, as Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays. Antetokounmpo prefers the less hectic pace of a city like Milwaukee. “I love Milwaukee — it’s low-key,” he told Velazquez. “I can walk down the road, down the streets without anybody bugging me — nobody interrupts my conversation or anything. I love how quiet and calm Milwaukee is.”
  • Bucks reserve guard Jason Terry wants to play at least one more year in the league, which would allow him to reach another milestone in his long career, Genaro Armas of the Associated Press writes. “For sure, 100 percent, my goal is to play 20 seasons,” Terry said. “The organization understands that and I think the league is on notice.” Terry, 40, is averaging 2.6 PPG in 11.9 MPG. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Pistons Notes: Jackson, Griffin, Nelson, Postseason

The Pistons announced this week that injured guard Reggie Jackson has entered the next stage of his rehab as he recovers from a sprained ankle. Jackson has been out of action since late December as the Pistons have remained on the periphery of a postseason run.

As Ansar Khan of writes, Jackson is cleared for light running and shooting. Per head coach Stan Van Gundy and Jackson himself, there is no indication that his recovery is being hindered in any way.

“I feel good that I’m getting better, but still not quite where I want to be,” Jackson said. “No setbacks. Wake up, it feels good. Some days it feels a little bit worse or a little bit better, but there’s nothing I’m doing that’s damaging it, so I’m just trying to get better, strengthen it and continue to get my cardio and making sure I’m taking care of it.”

The Pistons are 1.5 games behind the Heat for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. A healthy Jackson joining midseason acquisition Blake Griffin and stalwart center Andre Drummond would help the Pistons’ mission to make the postseason.

Check out other Pistons news and notes below:

  • Since acquiring Griffin, the Pistons have not had much time to familiarize him with the team’s offensive strategies. With 25 games left, head coach Stan Van Gundy is determined to speed up that process,’s Keith Langlois writes. “Blake’s different than anybody we’ve had at that spot,” Van Gundy said. “We’re not going to plug him in to what Tobias and (Anthony Tolliver) do. You’ve got to try to play through him more and get him in positions closer to the basket. You’ve actually having to do some stuff new to everybody and that’s been a challenge – a significant challenge.”
  • Jameer Nelson was traded to the Pistons on deadline day, unsure of what his role would be for the rest of the season. Rod Beard of The Detroit News analyzes Nelson rejoining his former coach in Orlando, Van Gundy, and how the veteran point guard expects to fit in the rest of the way.
  • The Pistons would not be in the playoffs if the season ended today, but the team still has a realistic shot at sneaking in as the eighth seed. John Niyo of The Detroit News examines Detroit’s chances to make a postseason run and how several players on the team view the last 25 games.

Central Notes: Oladipo, Pistons Rotation, Griffin

Victor Oladipo knew a breakout season was possible after speaking with Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard on the team’s private plane prior to his introductory press conference last summer, as Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated divulges in a feature story. Pritchard assured Oladipo that the club truly coveted his services, rather than just matching up salaries to facilitate the Paul George blockbuster with the Thunder. Indiana wanted to play faster this season. “This wasn’t a dump. We targeted you,” Pritchard told Oladipo, according to Jenkins. The All-Star shooting guard is averaging a career-high 24.4 PPG for the surprising Pacers.  “It was the first time in my career I felt like a team really believed in me,” Oladipo told Jenkins. “I was just thinking, Don’t mess this up.”

In other nuggets involving the Central Division:

  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy will likely go with a 10-man rotation once Reggie Jackson returns from his Grade 3 ankle sprain, according to Ansar Khan of  Jackson would join a starting unit of Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock. Ish Smith would return to his usual role as leader of the second unit with center Eric Moreland and forwards Anthony Tolliver and James Ennis getting steady minutes, Khan speculates. Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway would split time as the backup shooting guard, Khan adds.
  • Pistons owner Tom Gores invited Griffin and his business partners over to his California home immediately after the blockbuster deal with the Clippers, as Keith Langlois of details. Gores wanted to assure Griffin how badly the Pistons wanted him and address any concerns the five-time All-Star power forward might have, Langlois continues. The Pistons are 5-3 since Griffin joined their lineup. “We were very quickly on the same page with the same view of what we want to achieve and the approach to get there,” Gores told Langlois. “He’s definitely hit the ground running. It’s been great to see how his teammates, the whole organization and the fans have embraced him.”

Central Notes: Jackson, Antetokounmpo, Bower

When Pistons guard Reggie Jackson sprained his ankle on Boxing Day, he was given a six-to-eight week recovery timeline. Seven weeks in, head coach Stan Van Gundy is noncommittal about Jackson’s return, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes.

“I don’t have any preconceived notion at all of when he’ll be back,” Van Gundy said. “When [Pistons doctors] tell me he’s back, he’s back.

Though the Pistons guard hasn’t suffered a setback, the lack of enthusiasm doesn’t bode well. Per Beard, the 27-year-old may need a few more weeks to get to a point where he’s practicing heavily.

When Jackson does make his return, it will be to a Pistons lineup much different than the one he left in December. Jackson, of course, figures to be one of Detroit’s top offensive options in addition to Andre Drummond and recently acquired Blake Griffin.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • While Giannis Antetokounmpo has shown that whatever he does to improve his game in the offseason seems to be working just fine, the 23-year-old Bucks forward has an interest in training with Kobe Bryant in the summer. “When I go to [All-Star Weekend], I’m going to try to sneak an opportunity to talk to him,” he told ESPN’s Eric Nehm.
  • Second-year Bucks guard Xavier Munford, among the NBA’s first class of two-way players, has bounced between the big league club and its G League affiliate so far this season. He spoke with Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype about his new role.
  • There’s more that goes into pulling off an NBA trade than simply cold calling a fellow executive ahead of the trade deadline. Pistons general manager Jeff Bower spoke about the process that unfolded ahead of the Blake Griffin trade with Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

And-Ones: Free Agent Market, Payne, Perkins, Booker

The bull market for free agents has ended and there will be few free-spending teams this summer, according to Brian Windhorst and Bobby Marks of ESPN. Many organizations are paying the price for the huge contracts that were handed out in 2016 as cap issues are forcing much of the league to take a more frugal approach.

This season, five teams are on pace to pay the luxury tax, which kicks in with a payroll topping $119MM. Twelve teams are projected to be in tax territory for 2018/19 and several more are in danger of getting there just by re-signing their own free agents. The authors list the Bucks as one team that will cross the line if they hold onto Jabari Parker.

“The luxury tax was not designed for this many teams to pay it,” a league executive told Windhorst and Marks. “Many of those owners probably didn’t think they’d be paying it. Quite a few of those teams are probably going to take steps to get out of the tax or limit new spending.”

When teams were handing out big contracts in the summer of 2016, they were expecting a salary cap in the range of $108MM for next season. That projection has been revised down to $101MM, leaving many in an unexpected dilemma. Only seven teams — the Lakers, Sixers, Bulls, Hawks, Mavericks, Suns and Nets — will have more than $10MM available to chase free agents, and virtually all of those teams are in rebuilding mode.

NBA agent Mark Bartelstein expects the situation to improve in 2019 and 2020 when those 2016 contracts start to expire.

There’s more NBA-related news this morning:

  • Max and “supermax” deals are the reason more stars seem to be on the trade market, writes Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer. Clippers consultant Jerry West had been urging owner Steve Ballmer to trade Blake Griffin ever since Chris Paul let the team know he wouldn’t be re-signing. Ballmer was convinced after Griffin’s latest injury, recognizing the risks of paying him $171MM over five years, including nearly $39MM in the 2021/22 season when he will be 32. Teams are taking stock of their future and weighing whether maxing out a star is worth giving up financial flexibility. O’Connor predicts fewer mid-sized deals, like the approximately $17MM the Magic are giving to Bismack Biyombo and Evan Fournier, in favor of more non-taxpayer midlevel exceptions, which are valued at $8.4MM an will rise to about $10MM before the current CBA expires.
  • Adreian Payne, who was waived by the Magic last month in the wake of the Michigan State scandal, had signed to play in Greece, relays the Associated Press. Payne had a two-way contract and played just four games for Orlando.
  • Veteran center Kendrick Perkins has decided to leave the G League Canton Charge, tweets Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. Several teams have contacted him about signing after the deadline, and he may consider playing in China or Japan next year, depending how the rest of this season turns out, adds Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Perkins officially “retired” from the G League so the Charge can receive compensation, according to 2 Ways & 10 Days.
  • Sixers forward Trevor Booker has changed agents in advance of his upcoming free agency, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Booker has signed with Jim Tanner’s Tandem Sports + Entertainment.
  • Lavoy Allen, who played 61 games for the Pacers last season, has joined the Northern Arizona Suns of the G League, the team tweeted.

Pistons Notes: Van Gundy, Johnson, Jackson

Despite the fact that they’ve won a pair of games with him in the lineup, the Pistons haven’t quite figured out how to play with Blake Griffin. That’s not all that surprising, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes, considering that they’ve had so little time to acclimate to the new star.

Playing with Blake is still new to us. We had an hour and a half, and now we’ve had, what, two days now?” third-year forward Stanley Johnson said on Saturday. “So it’s still not the greatest stuff in the world, but if we can do that every night, regardless with what we have in, it doesn’t matter.”

While the Pistons have, at times, been smoother with Griffin on the sidelines, that’s nothing head coach Stan Van Gundy didn’t expect.

I have to get figured out offensively. I’m not helping him or us a lot. You can see today in the early fourth quarter, we were actually a lot smoother when he was out because we were just playing,” Van Gundy said after the Pistons took down the Heat. “I’ve got this great player now and we’re just sort of playing to him all the time and the defense is all loaded up.

When Griffin is on the court he’s a constant penetration threat, which commands attention from defenses and frees up teammates. While the Pistons may not have a set offensive scheme that features him in place already, their success through two games is a testament to the impact that he’s had already.

There’s more out of Detroit:

  • Among the Pistons players most impacted by the arrival of Blake Griffin has been small forward Stanley Johnson. The 21-year-old spoke with the media, including The Detroit News, about how much easier his life is with Griffin on board. Johnson has averaged 17.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in just under 37 minutes per game since the trade was announced. “I see a lot more opportunity. Now with Blake involved, he creates so much attention, it’s crazy. It’s easy to turn the corner sometimes, with him. Then with Andre Drummond, you have two guys that are crazy lob threats. It’s kinda pick your poison sometimes,” Johnson said.
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy is intent on finding a better way to feature Blake Griffin in the team’s offense. “I think Blake is naturally a guy who moves the ball and stuff. I think I’ve been running stuff to him and making him play against a loaded up defense,” he told Ansar Khan of MLive and the rest of the media. “We gotta get moving so the defense has to play against movement and not be loaded up against him. We’ll make that correction hopefully fairly quickly.”
  • For the Pistons to make the most of the Blake Griffin addition, other players are going to have to accept new roles, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press writes. One such player is Reggie Jackson who, after years behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, had embraced being a go-to option for Detroit.

Pistons Notes: Griffin, Van Gundy, S. Johnson

The Pistons introduced their new star player in a press conference this afternoon, confirming that physicals have been completed and Blake Griffin is officially on the roster, ready to make his on-court debut for the team on Thursday night. Asked about the move across the country, Griffin didn’t express any animosity toward his old club in Los Angeles, but he did admit to being caught off guard by the trade.

“Shocked is a good way to put it,” Griffin said (Twitter link via Rod Beard of The Detroit News). “I found out when everybody else found out. It took a second to realize everything’s changing.”

While Griffin was surprised by his change of address, he spoke today about embracing his new opportunity, calling it a “very, very exciting” challenge. “I truly believe we have the pieces, coaching staff, and support from the organization to make a run in the next few months,” Griffin said (Twitter link via Beard).

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Griffin isn’t the only one excited about his arrival in Detroit. As Nick Friedell of ESPN details, Andre Drummond said he’s looking forward to building a “new empire” alongside his new frontcourt mate. Meanwhile, Stan Van Gundy and Reggie Jackson also expressed enthusiasm, as Beard writes for The Detroit News. “The juices get flowing and you see all the possibilities with a guy like that,” Van Gundy said on Tuesday. “Of course, what I’d like to do is get it all (installed) right away, get about a 10-hour walkthrough in on Thursday and play because I see all the possibilities. Our schedule is not really conducive; it’s going to have to go little by little.”
  • The acquisition of Griffin feels like a “make-or-break moment” for Van Gundy’s tenure with the Pistons, says John Niyo of The Detroit News.
  • Stanley Johnson, frequently cited in trade rumors this season, had a huge night on Tuesday, racking up a career-high 26 points and 10 rebounds in the Pistons’ win over Cleveland. The performance might help boost Johnson’s trade value a little, but he’s also making a case for a more prominent role in Detroit if he’s not dealt, writes Ansar Khan of
  • A handful of analysts and reporters are split on whether the Griffin trade will help propel the Pistons to a playoff spot this season.