Los Angeles Waves Goodbye To Blake Griffin
Despite the acquisition of a star, the Piston’s playoff hopes and head coach, Stan Van Gundy's job security may still be in limbo.
An attention grabbing, risk-ridden move, the Pistons' trade for Blake Griffin may be attributed to a lingering off-court concern with the team’s attendance rates. Quite simply, the Detroit Pistons don’t pack the stands like they used to. They have been in the bottom-third of the NBA in attendance rates for eight years straight, and in the bottom five for six of those. Adding a star to the roster, in the form of Blake Griffin, could bring fans in troves.
As for the team’s playoff hopes, they are uncertain to reach the postseason even with the acquisition of Griffin. However, they are comfortably in the playoff hunt sitting at ninth best team in the East. The eighth seed Sixers are a young, talented team, but are crippled by injuries and inconsistency and have been prone to long losing streaks. That being said, roster changes mid-season are a hit or miss affair. The Pistons traded away valuable contributors from their lineup including starting guard, Avery Bradley and forward, Tobias Harris, and backup center, Boban Marjanovic, as well as two picks, including a first-rounder.
Big men, Willie Reed and Brice Johnson were included with Griffin in the trade package. While Reed could provide valuable minutes off the bench as a backup center and interior defender, Johnson’s tenure with the Pistons will most likely be restricted to the bench.
Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the move for the Pistons is Griffin’s contract. He was signed to a five year max deal this past summer and will be receiving close to 40 million in the 2021-2022 season when Griffin will be his early 30’s.
Griffin debuted on Thursday night as the Pistons faced the Memphis Grizzlies in Detroit. Despite only participating in a single practice as a member of the team, Griffin came out of the gates strong and for the most part, looked like the team's best player. He played an all around game, putting up 24 points, ten rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. On the offensive end Griffin scored from all levels, showcasing his improved perimeter game. On the other end he provided a strong defensive presence next to Andre Drummond. His impressive first game lead to a close pistons win as they look to make a playoff push.
- Shane Hoffmann and Suibhne O'Foighil