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Pistons sitting Blake Griffin as they pursue trade or buyout

Pistons forward Blake Griffin

DETROIT, MI - FEBRUARY 11: Blake Griffin #23 of the Detroit Pistons looks on during the game against the Indiana Pacers on February 11, 2021 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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The Pistons-Clippers Blake Griffin trade turned out as many expected.

With an expensive Griffin beset by injury and Detroit losing.

Yes, Griffin beat the odds and returned to stardom with the Pistons. But that just proves how poor of a bet the trade was for Detroit. The Pistons were too mediocre to take advantage of Griffin’s re-ascension. They won zero playoff games with him. With picks surrendered to acquire him and his max contract on the books, Detroit was too limited in its ability to build a quality roster around him. And injuries eventually sidetracked Griffin again.

Now, both Griffin and the Pistons are ready to move on.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Six-time All-Star forward Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons have agreed that he will be out of the lineup until the franchise and his representatives work through a resolution on his playing future, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver told ESPN.

The Pistons will continue to pursue trade scenarios involving Griffin and talks on a contract buyout with his agent Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports could eventually come into focus.

Unlike Andre Drummond – whom the Cavaliers are sitting in pursuit of a trade – Griffin isn’t on an expiring contract. Griffin is earning $36,810,996 this season and has a $38,957,028 player option for next season. That creates significant complications.

So does Griffin’s performance. Since building some offseason trade hype, Griffin has struggled this year.

Who will actually trade for him on this contract?

A buyout could make sense. But will Griffin relinquish enough money that Detroit accepts a two-year (or, if stretched, three-year) cap hit? That dead money would be a major impediment. But a buyout would get Griffin maximum freedom.

As a free agent, Griffin would hold more appeal to other teams. Though he’s stumbling in a losing situation, Griffin could contribute to a winner.

He has significantly improved his skill level since his early dunking days. Griffin is a far better shooter, ball-handler and distributor. He can also compete defensively, though he’s insufficient both protecting the rim and guarding in space.

But teams ought to recognize that Griffin, 31, has suffered significant athletic declines. Changing environments won’t fix everything.

Sitting Griffin could even hurt the Pistons’ bid to tank. They’re -72 in Griffin’s 626 minutes. That’s the second-worst plus-minus on the team.

On the other hand, Detroit is -117 in just 314 minutes with Sekou Doumbouya, who could now get a bigger role.

The Pistons are aggressively moving in a new direction. In his first offseason in charge, Weaver kept just four players from last season – Griffin, Doumbouya, Svi Mykhailiuk and Derrick Rose. The Pistons already traded Rose.

Now, Griffin is headed toward the exit.