Updated: Jan 21, 2021
The trade was risky. Stan Van Gundy needed to win and acquiring talent isn't the worst way to approach that problem. The issue was talent available. Blake Griffin was in his prime, a consistent All-Star, and an expanding game. It was hard to see the fit with the team and injuries had been an issue with him, but take a chance right? Well we did and the worst reality came to fruition and now he is a role player, getting paid 38 million, and he needs rest on occasion. We have players who need the minutes he is being afforded. We need to trade him. We need him to play well so his value isn't a net negative on the trade market because we need all available future assets. So what is the best way for the organization to handle this? Let's explore...
Scenario 1: Continue on...
This is probably the most likely and the most difficult to swallow. It should be noted that he is a veteran player who doesn't make tons of mental mistake in terms of turnovers. He understands NBA basketball doesn't get too high or too low and that, if nothing else, helps keeps the locker room consistent. No point in trading him for someone who will come in and disrupt team chemistry.
Blake continues to have a major role in the offense and it isn't clear whether or not he wants these duties at times. Last night against the Hawks he actually had some aggressiveness towards the basket, in comparison to the season thus far, but still nowhere near normal "Blake Griffin" levels of two years ago. When the Miami Heat roll out Duncan Robinson against him, with no help, and Blake scored a total of 2 points.... Optimism about his future officially faded away. He should've been pulled because that performance only further depleted his trade value. He has had some good games as well, but his production lags behind his price tag by a large margin. Teams don't like that money sitting on the bench, and while players need to be developed, maximizing assets are at the forefront of every business owners mind. Prepare for his minutes and role to continue at least through the trade deadline.
Scenario 2: Trade Him at All Costs
This is second on the list, not because it's the second likeliest, it is most coveted by Pistons Twitter. Unfortunately, they still seem to think that he has value. I suspect that if we wanted to move off of Blake Griffin today, on January 21st, it would cost us at minimum a second round pick because competing teams are going to have a hard time taking on his massive contract, so the teams that will be looking into acquiring Blake will want to be compensated for having their cap space eaten up for next season. The reason he won't be traded anytime soon is because his value has never been lower at any point in his career. I am not suggesting that it can hit the same heights even 2 years ago, but 3 weeks of solid play could possibly make it so we can swap contracts with another team to give ourselves cap space for next season.
Scenario 3: Lessen Role on Team
This would be the most reasonable course of action. He can't keep playing 34 minutes while Saddiq Bey or Sekou Doumbouya are receiving less than 10. Keep Blake as a starter, but ease his 1st half by five minutes and his second by three. That should keep all the young player above five minutes each, which is still below where it should be at minimum, but it is better than it is now. Playing time for Saddiq, Sekou, and Isaiah Stewart just needs to be at the forefront of our future. Those three players, along with Killian Hayes, are the only players that have the potential to be on the next Pistons team that will win a playoff series. (If Jerami Grant decides to re-sign than he will be there for our next playoff series win.)
Blake needs to log minutes to help manage his diminishing value around the league. Unfortunately his play has not rendered many positive critics and rightfully so. Most of his shots come from the 3PT line, this is his worst rebounding season (Drummond playing next to him is no longer viable), and he can't seem to be able to dunk during games. His minutes need to be focused and presenting a player in our offense, that will look like the role he would fill on a contender, could be helpful for trade prospects. Blake will not be playing 34 minutes per game on a contender. He would be right around 25 minutes per contest, helping facilitate the second unit, and knocking down open three's. The more we can present this product for the league to see the better off we will be.
The Blake Griffin mess was fairly obvious when Stan Van Gundy traded for him. He was a great player and it was fun to watch his All-NBA season just a short two years ago. We have hit the end of the road and it is time to escape this relationship. Last year we got a 2nd round pick for Andre Drummond and it feels like if we can get the same returns on Blake we need to pull the trigger. There could be an argument made that as long as we don't have to give up a 1st round draft pick, we are getting out from under this financial pressure easily. Extending gratitude to Blake should be our collective thought, but do not feel bad for wanting a trade. He needs to find where the sunset of his career will be because it won't be here in Detroit. Unfortunately, he will probably remain a Piston until next year when his contract is expiring, so it is imperative he doesn't slow the development of our younger players.
Please subscribe and follow us on Twitter @badboysbackbeat for in game updates and news about all things Pistons.