The Los Angeles Clippers traded All-Star forward Blake Griffin to Detroit on Monday for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a first- and second-round draft pick.
Thus, Griffin, who averaged 22.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 33 games this season, will go from the 9-seed in the West to the 9-seed in the East.
“It was a little out of left field,” NBCSports.com NBA writer and managing editor Kurt Helin said on Ferrall on the Bench. “There had been some buzz that they shopped him around a little bit. They called up Minnesota (and asked about) Karl-Anthony Towns. I didn’t think they were that serious. Honestly, if they were going to blow this up, they could have done it this summer. Chris Paul left. They didn’t have to resign Blake Griffin. Now they got something back for him, but they didn’t have to resign him. They could have traded DeAndre Jordan, and they could have done it then. So it surprised me that Steve Ballmer clearly listened to Jerry West and Lawrence Frank and came around from, ‘We are never going to rebuild,’ to, ‘All right, yeah, we should rebuild.’”
The Clippers (25-24), who are a half game back of the Nuggets (26-24) for the 8-seed in the West, claim they still want to make the playoffs, but that seems unlikely, especially as the team continues to shop its core.
“They are going to try to move DeAndre (Jordan) for something,” Helin said. “They are going to probably move Lou Williams for something. He’s got real value as a guy off the bench. They’re talking about going after LeBron or having all this cap space this summer, but I heard LeBron didn’t want to be a Clipper anyway, let alone now because he wants to win. I think they’re going into rebuild mode. Those guys, if you’re rebuilding, you don’t need DeAndre or Lou Williams. Whether they trade them or not, they will be gone this summer.”
Griffin, meanwhile, is left wondering what just happened – and what could have been.
“I think this is a shock to him,” Helin said. “They sold him on, ‘You’re the best player we’ve ever had. You’re the face of the franchise. You’re the guy who turned this franchise around. We want you to be here forever.’ Eight months later, he’s gone. That’s going to be hard for him to swallow. He didn’t want to move. This is something forced upon him. . . . Guys who have been with teams for a long time and resign this summer, they’re going to be asking for no-trade (clauses).”
The Pistons (22-26) trail Philadelphia (24-23) by 2.5 games for the 8-seed in the East. Detroit has just one playoff appearance since 2009.