The Clippers reportedly traded superstar forward Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons on Monday in exchange for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a protected first-round pick and a 2019 second-round selection. Per Wojnarowski, the protections on the first-round pick will be, “2018: 1-4; 2019: 1-4; 2020: 1-4; 2021: unprotected.” He added that the Pistons would also receive Brice Johnson and Willie Reed. The Clippers may not be done there, however—Wojnarowski reported that the Clippers “will continue to pursue packages of young players and picks in talks for DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams”. Although there were rumblings in previous seasons that suggested Griffin could get moved, it’s still surprising to see one of the league’s top power forwards dealt in his prime. It’s a risky move by the Clippers, even when considering the return package. Speculation about the 28-year-old University of Oklahoma product’s future first began to heat up after a fight with equipment manager Matias Testi in January 2016 at a restaurant in Toronto during which Griffin injured his hand, as Sam Amick of USA Today reported. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times passed along comments at the time from Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, who stated “there needs to be consequences.” He also suggested Griffin would remain a franchise cornerstone, however: “Blake’s a key part of our team. There’s no question about that”. While that incident didn’t lead directly to a trade, Griffin didn’t end up staying on the roster through the organization’s current rebuilding efforts. He joins Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford among the high-profile players moved by the front office since the offseason. Griffin’s trade comes as a bigger surprise, however, as he’s just months removed from signing a five-year, $171.2 million contract extension with the team. Griffin is averaging 22.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists across 33 appearances this season. He has the NBA’s 10th-best Player Efficiency Rating among power forwards, per ESPN.com. He finished third in PER at the position last season. Ultimately, superstars such as Griffin are hard to find, but the Clippers made the difficult choice to push forward with the move as they attempt to restructure their roster. It’s the type of trade that’s going to have a lasting impact on the organization as they clearly plunge headlong into a rebuild. Detroit, meanwhile, made a win-now decision. In Griffin, the team has a legitimate superstar to build around as it seeks to reach the postseason. The 22-26 Pistons are ninth in the Eastern Conference standings. The Pistons are now built around one of the best frontcourts in the Eastern Conference in Drummond and Griffin, along with guard Reggie Jackson, and will be expected to make the playoffs. But if Griffin isn’t enough to push the Pistons into the NBA’s elite—and if the team can’t work around the salary cap in future years to add talent given the contracts of Drummond and Griffin—the trade may never be worth it.
The New York Knicks are exploring their options in parting ways with Joakim Noah. Noah has been sent home by the Knicks following a heated verbal exchange with Jeff Hornacek at practice last week. The confrontation was fiery but did not become physical. The Knicks have yet to broach buyout talks with Noah, but they could pursue their options if they’re unable to trade him. Noah believes he can still play rotational minutes for a playoff team. He signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Knicks in 2016.
News around DeMarre Carroll and Kenneth Faried are starting to heat up. Carroll has bounced back well enough for the Nets this year (13 ppg, 6.7 rpg) to get repurposed for the playoff-teetering Nuggets, who could use his attention to defensive detail on the wings. And Brooklyn was trying to work out a deal for Faried this summer. His rebounding numbers are down in Denver this season, but it’s been clear for a while that Faried is not in the rotation or the team’s plans, so a change of venue is needed. Lydon also doesn’t figure to be a long-term Nugget, and is worth a rookie-contract look by the Nets for a couple of years.
After multiple lacklustre seasons, Tyreke Evans has managed to put things together with the Memphis Grizzlies, 7 years removed from his historical rookie season. Due to his comeback year, the lack of wins for Memphis — they currently sit at 12th in the West with a 17-31 record — and the news that starting point guard Mike Conley will be missing the rest of the season after undergoing surgery, Memphis has put out feelers to try and get something of value for Tyreke while his value is high, and they may have a customer already waiting in line. That’s right, the Eastern Conference leaders may be looking at a move for Evans, which is a scary prospect. Tyreke is already a star off the bench for Memphis — in the contention for the Sixth Man of the Year award — and adding a player like that to Brad Stevens’ squad will only strengthen their second unit. It also helps that the Celtics severely lack bench scoring this season as well. Adding a 19.4 PPG scorer and capable defender to their bench alongside Terry Rosier, Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris would do wonders for Boston when Kyrie, Tatum and Horford are on the bench, which could be especially useful to give the starters a few less minutes during the tail end of the season to keep them well rested for the playoffs. Obviously, nothing is set in stone as of right now, but it’s looking increasingly likely that Evans could be suiting up in Green before the deadline.