Blake Griffin

Pistons Awarded Disabled Player Exception

The Pistons have been granted the $9.2MM disabled player exception they requested in the wake of an injury to Blake Griffin, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

As we noted two weeks ago, Detroit isn’t expected to use the exception to add a free agent because the team is so close to the tax line. However, it could prove useful on the trade market, allowing the team to move possibly Derrick Rose or Langston Galloway and take back a player with an expiring contract that fits into the DPE. That would create a $7.3MM trade exception (the amount of Rose’s or Galloway’s cap hit) that could be used this summer or next season.

Because the league only grants DPEs for players who are considered highly likely to be out of action until June 15, it’s safe to assume that Griffin’s season is now over, adds Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). Griffin was declared to be out indefinitely after undergoing an arthroscopic debridement of his left knee on January 7.

According to Marks, the Pistons are just $3,669 under the luxury tax and just $5.8MM below the hard cap.

After a 16-28 start, Detroit is expected to be active on the trade market before the February 6 deadline. Andre Drummond has been prominently mentioned as a trade possibility, although interest around the league seems to have declined recently, with both the Hawks and Knicks pulling back.

Pistons Apply For DPE; Knicks Interested In Drummond?

The Pistons have applied for a Disabled Player Exception due to Blake Griffin‘s potentially season-ending knee injury, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Detroit’s application is a clear indication it doesn’t expect Griffin, an All-Star last season and the team’s highest-paid player, to return. The $9.26MM exception, if granted, could help the injury-riddled Pistons make a trade to facilitate a rebuilding process.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Disabled Player Exception]

Griffin underwent surgery on the same knee after last season but he’s been bothered by knee soreness and a hamstring issue that kept him out of the lineup the first 10 games of the season. He only appeared in 18 games before getting the latest procedure.

The Pistons are just $3,669 below the tax line, $5.8MM below the hard cap, and have a full roster, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Thus, the exception won’t be used on a free agent signing, barring a trade to clear money and open a roster spot, Marks adds.

The Pistons had a January 15 deadline to apply for the disabled player exception. As we noted earlier this week, if the Pistons were to trade Derrick Rose or Langston Galloway and take back a player on an expiring contract whose salary fits into the DPE, they’d create a trade exception worth $7.3MM, which could be used in the summer or next season.

In an unrelated but intriguing development, the Knicks have talked to the Pistons about Andre Drummond, according to Charania (Twitter link). The Hawks, Mavericks, Raptors and Celtics have also been linked to Drummond, who can opt out and become an unrestricted free agent after this season. The Knicks are owed two future first-rounders from Dallas, which could facilitate a trade with Detroit. They also have a number of expiring contracts to match salaries.

Pistons Notes: Griffin, DPE, Jackson, Kennard

After Blake Griffin opted to undergo surgery on his troublesome left knee, head coach Dwane Casey offered some comments on the power forward’s absence, as Rod Beard of the Detroit News relays (Twitter links).

It’s like when Rick Pitino said, ‘Larry Bird isn’t walking through that door.’ … Blake Griffin isn’t walking through that door,” Casey said. “…The 25 points, the leadership, the toughness, the presence of Blake — you’re not going to replace that.”

Griffin had been in and out of the Pistons’ lineup for much of the first half due to his nagging knee issues, appearing in just 18 games. Now that the former No. 1 overall pick is sidelined indefinitely, Casey notes that at least there should be more lineup certainty going forward.

“We know the direction right now,” Casey said. “We know what we’re dealing with — it’s not, ‘Is he playing or is he not playing?'”

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • If the Pistons expect Griffin to miss the rest of the season, it would make sense for them to request a disabled player exception – which would be worth $9.26MM – before next Wednesday’s application deadline. Detroit likely wouldn’t use that exception to sign a free agent, given the team’s proximity to the tax line, but it could come in handy on the trade market. For instance, if the Pistons trade someone like Derrick Rose or Langston Galloway and take back a player on an expiring contract whose salary fits into the DPE, they’d create a trade exception worth $7.3MM, which could be used in the summer or next season.
  • Reggie Jackson saw a specialist in Los Angeles and is making progress as he returns from a back injury, Beard tweets. There remains no timeline for Jackson’s return to the court.
  • There’s also no update on Luke Kennard, Beard adds in another tweet. Two weeks ago, the Pistons indicated that the third-year guard would be re-evaluated on January 7, but it appears he’s still not ready to return from his knee injury.
  • As we noted on Tuesday within our Griffin story, Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) says one source briefed on Detroit’s efforts to move Andre Drummond expressed confidence that a trade will be made by next month’s deadline.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Blake Griffin Out Indefinitely Following Knee Surgery

Blake Griffin has undergone an arthroscopic debridement of his left knee, the Pistons announced today in a press release. According to the team, Griffin will go through an “extended” rehab process, with no timetable set for his return.

The announcement from the club comes just one day after news surfaced that Griffin was visiting a specialist in Los Angeles and considering season-ending surgery. It’s unclear if the procedure he underwent today is the same season-ending one he was reportedly weighing on Monday, but it seems safe to assume he won’t be back in Detroit’s lineup anytime soon.

If it is indeed a long-term injury for Griffin, it may help put the nail in the coffin of the Pistons’ playoff hopes for 2020. After narrowly earning the No. 8 seed a year ago, the team sits at 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 13-24 record. While Griffin has struggled in the 18 games he has played this season, averaging just 15.5 PPG and 4.7 RPG on 35.2% shooting, Detroit was close to .500 (8-10) with him in the lineup. The club has won just five of 19 games without Griffin.

[RELATED: Pistons discussing Andre Drummond with Hawks, others]

Griffin’s surgery increases the likelihood that the Pistons will be sellers leading up to next month’s trade deadline. Andre Drummond is the club’s biggest trade chip, and Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) says one source briefed on Detroit’s efforts to move the veteran center expressed confidence that a trade will be made by February 6.

As for Griffin, he remains under contract for two more years beyond 2019/20, with a guaranteed $36.8MM cap charge for ’20/21 and a ’21/22 player option worth nearly $39MM. Although the six-time All-Star seems unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon, Detroit could consider moving him in the offseason if he gets healthy and the franchise wants to launch a full-fledged rebuild.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Blake Griffin Considering Season-Ending Knee Surgery

Pistons forward Blake Griffin will visit a specialist in Los Angeles this week in search of solutions to address his left knee issue, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. According to Haynes, one option being considered is season-ending knee surgery.

Griffin, a six-time All-Star, enjoyed one of his all-time best seasons in 2018/19, his first full year in Detroit, but has been limited by knee problems in 2019/20. The 30-year-old has only been able to play in 18 games and has put up career-worst numbers when he’s on the court, including 15.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and an abysmal .352 FG%.

The Pistons had entered the season expecting to load-manage Griffin to some extent, but his ineffectiveness when he plays and his inability to suit up at all for half the team’s games have significantly impacted Detroit’s playoff chances. The Pistons currently sit 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 13-24 record.

While it remains to be seen whether Griffin and the Pistons will actually opt for a surgical procedure that ends the big man’s season, there have been multiple signs that the franchise is considering taking a step back from its win-now efforts. Team owner Tom Gores said last week that the management group will have to “assess everything” in the coming weeks, and reports surfaced shortly thereafter suggesting the Pistons were listening to trade inquiries on Andre Drummond.

If Detroit launches a full-fledged rebuild, trading both Drummond and Griffin might make some sense, but a Griffin deal within the next month appears unlikely, especially if he goes under the knife. The former Clipper still has two seasons left on his contract after 2019/20, with a guaranteed $36.8MM cap charge for ’20/21 and a ’21/22 player option worth nearly $39MM.

Pistons Notes: Griffin, Trade Deadline, Drummond, Wood

The Pistons got a relatively healthy season and a half out of Blake Griffin after the surprising trade that brought him to Detroit in January of 2018, but now they’re experiencing the “worst-case scenario” part of that deal, writes James Edwards III of The Athletic. Knee soreness has limited Griffin to 18 games this season as the Pistons are off to a 12-22 start that has them stuck in 11th place in the East. He’s posting career lows with 15.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, along with a .352 shooting percentage.

Griffin’s health issues made him a risky investment, but the bigger gamble was the huge contract he signed with the Clippers a few months before the deal. After making nearly $34.5MM this year, Griffin is owed $36.8MM in 2020/21 and has a $38.95MM player option the following season. That deal makes him extremely difficult to trade and presents an impediment for an organization that may be thinking about rebuilding.

Management rolled the dice on Griffin because they thought he would turn the Pistons into a perennial playoff team. However, Edwards notes that they were restricted from adding more talent because Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and Jon Leuer combined for about $80MM in cap room when the trade was completed and all had more than a year left on their contracts.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • It will be difficult for the Pistons to move any of their large contracts before next month’s trade deadline, predicts Keith Langlois of NBA.com. With everyone except the Hawks over the cap, Langlois doesn’t expect any deals that will help a team take a significant amount of salary off its books. Detroit will have more flexibility this summer when Jackson’s contract expires and Drummond may opt out of his $28.75MM salary for next season.
  • Any championship window the Pistons may have had with their current roster is rapidly closing, observes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Even though the front office brought in some help this summer by adding Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris and Tim Frazier, it hasn’t been enough to overcome injuries. Beard believes Langston Galloway and Rose would be the most attractive pieces if Detroit decides to become sellers at the deadline.
  • Christian Wood‘s future in Detroit will be tied to Drummond’s decision on his player option, Beard adds in the same piece. Wood will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and it’s unclear how much the Pistons would be willing to give him to continue in a backup role. However, he would be an option as a starter if Drummond opts out and signs elsewhere.

Jared Dudley Talks Kuzma, Griffin, Knicks, More

Jared Dudley isn’t one of the NBA’s best players, but he’s one of the league’s best interview subjects, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic, who notes that Dudley is willing to talk to virtually any reporter about virtually any subject.

In his own Q&A with Dudley, Oram asked the Lakers‘ forward about his music tastes, his favorite current teammate, his least favorite NBA cities, how he spends his off days, his biggest fears, and much more.

If you have an Athletic subscription, the conversation is definitely worth checking out in full. But here are a few of Dudley’s more noteworthy comments:

On Kyle Kuzma‘s mini-controversy related to his trainer’s anti-LeBron James comments:

“Not only have I talked to him (about it), other players have talked to him. So when it comes to Kuz, this has been good for him, his maturity and having to deal with it. When I heard he was meeting with the media (on Saturday), that’s something I would do. I would have gone to social media right then and there. ‘He don’t speak for me. Yes I’ve trained with him, but this is where I view it at.'”

On his least favorite current or former teammate:

“I don’t get along with Blake Griffin now. When I was with him I didn’t have a bad relationship with him. That team (the 2013/14 Clippers) was the most toxic team. It was weird because it was a bipolar type team. We were somewhat cool off the floor; we weren’t cool on the floor.

“I just don’t like his personality and attitude. I think he’s a great basketball player and I think you can differentiate the two. It’s easy to be the greatest teammate when you’re winning. How about when you’re losing? How about when you’re down 20? And that’s the biggest thing with that team. It was the biggest front-running team. You’re up 20, everything’s good, throwing lobs. Down 20, people want to fight, bickering. I don’t want to say my least favorite … That’s a teammate right now that I don’t talk (to), don’t get along (with), words aren’t exchanged on the court, yada yada.”

On how he has weighed taking the most lucrative contract offer vs. playing for a contender:

“I never have taken a discount because, for one, I’m never going to get that back. I never believed on that. That being said, I signed a one-year deal (with the Lakers). I might have potentially been able to get a two-year deal somewhere else, but I wanted to come to the Lakers because this not only benefits me this year to win a championship but long-term. Media, dealing with you guys. If I try to become a head coach or a GM, I’ve now played with LeBron, I’ve been on a championship-caliber team. It helps my whole resume going forward.”

On the first change he’d make for the Knicks if he were in position to do so:

“I’d be getting rid of that practice facility in Westchester. Nobody wants to live there, no one wants to commute there. You have to get as close to the city as possible. That’s why Brooklyn got Kevin Durant. I told DeAndre Jordan who told Kevin Durant: The (Nets’) practice facility is two minutes from (Barclays Center). They didn’t even know that. I lived in the city. It took me 12 minutes to get to the practice facility. That’s a huge bonus. People bash the Knicks, but I definitely wouldn’t bash the Knicks. I would have gone there if the Lakers wouldn’t have offered me, or Brooklyn. If it was my third or fourth option, sure.”

Central Notes: Griffin, Kennard, Dunn

Pistons star Blake Griffin has struggled this season and the big man isn’t happy with his level of play, Rod Beard of The Detroit News relays.

“It’s obviously a disappointing loss with a lot of frustration for a lot of different reasons,” Griffin said. “I’ve got no excuses; I just have to play better. [Not having a rhythm] doesn’t help but I’ve never really been an excuse guy. I’ve just got to be better — that’s the bottom line.”

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Luke Kennard will miss at least two weeks with bilateral knee tendinitis, the Pistons announced today in a press release. The wing is expected to be sidelined for at least the team’s next six games.
  • Kris Dunn may have created a future for himself with Bulls, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago contends. The former No. 5 overall pick has embraced his role as a defensive wing.
  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic examines why the Cavaliers agreed to trade away Jordan Clarkson. Cleveland received Dante Exum and a pair of second-rounders in exchange for the guard.

Central Notes: Love, Griffin, Wood, Oladipo, Bulls

In a Q&A with Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love acknowledged that it will probably take a while for the club to become a legit title contender again. However, he was evasive when asked if he could envision himself asking management for a trade.

“What’s going to happen with us this summer? Or at the trade deadline? I just don’t know,” Love said. “It’s just tough because, and I’m not a religious guy by any means, but the old saying ‘You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.’ Listen, obviously it’s a tough go right now. We’ve got (seven) wins. But in some ways, the grass isn’t always greener. You just don’t know how the s–t is going to shake out. Ever. In anything.

“So could I see it? Yes and no. It’s tough for me to answer. If we got a year or two down the line — I don’t know what their plans are for me even in the short term. But if it got there and we weren’t getting any better, it might make sense for them to completely go young. Maybe it’s that way now.”

Reports this month have indicated that Love may want to be dealt, with Portland said to be among his preferred landing spots. However, moving him won’t be easy, given his pricey long-term contract.

Here’s more from around the Central:

Central Notes: Mitrou-Long, Markkanen, Griffin, Drummond

Injuries have thrust Pacers two-way players Naz Mitrou-Long and Brian Bowen into action more than anticipated in the early going, Mark Monteith of the team’s website notes. Backcourt injuries forced Indiana to play Mitrou-Long 14 minutes on Saturday one night after he scored 28 points for its G League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Bowen made a five-minute appearance in the loss to Milwaukee.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen hasn’t reached the 20-point mark since scoring 35 points in the season opener and shooting guard Zach LaVine is looking to change that, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “He just doesn’t seem in rhythm right now man. It’s a new offense. And I think it has a part to do with it,” LaVine said. “We’ve just got to help him find it.”
  • Injuries to Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose have contributed greatly to the Pistons’ 4-9 start. With some days off and both stars back in action, coach Dwane Casey is hoping to get things back on track, Keith Langlois of the team’s website writes. “We’ve got three or four days we can practice,” he said. “Before, there was one day in between.  … Sounds like an excuse. But it’s going to take a while for our guys to jell together, work together, learn each other. With Blake and Derrick back, for them to learn each other. It’s going to be a marathon.”
  • The Pistons will have to consider drastic changes if they don’t break the cycle of mediocrity soon, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. The trade for Griffin hasn’t resulted in a huge uptick in the team’s fortunes, Beard continues. Andre Drummond, who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, hasn’t impacted winning significantly enough to warrant another long-term deal in many people’s minds, Beard adds.