MILWAUKEE — The Pistons are making a long-term commitment to contend as they battle for a playoff spot this season against the Sixers and other teams in the Eastern Conference.
According to multiple reports Monday (first reported by ESPN), the Pistons will send Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a first-round and a second-round pick to the Clippers in exchange for Blake Griffin, Brice Johnson and Willie Reed.
The Pistons (22-26) are currently one spot behind the Sixers (24-23) in a race for a playoff berth. The Sixers are 3-0 against the Pistons so far this season. They will face off again on April 4 in Detroit, a game that could have postseason implications.
Griffin scored 29 points with six rebounds and five assists in the Sixers’ November win over the Clippers this season.
The Pistons are shedding short-term contracts to lock in Griffin (22.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists this season) long term. Griffin signed a massive $171 million contract this past summer. He has three years guaranteed after this season and a player option for 2021-22. The contracts of Johnson and Reed expire this season.
The Pistons are willing to part ways with Harris, who is having the best season of his seven-year NBA career with 18.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Harris has two guaranteed years remaining ($16 million, $14.8 million), as does Marjanovic ($7 million per year).
The Pistons also are shedding Bradley’s expiring contract, a bargain by today’s market at $8.8 million. Bradley once again will play for Doc Rivers, who likely will tap into the guard’s defensive strengths as he did on the Celtics.
This may not be the only major move coming in the East. The Griffin trade could have an impact on the entire league during the summer.
The New York Times' Marc Stein reported the Clippers feel they could be a team to lure LeBron James out of his player option with the Cavaliers this summer and will look for trade partners for DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams by this trade deadline (Feb. 8). If James leaves the Cavaliers, that would create a huge window of opportunity for teams like the Sixers to move up in the conference.