It’s been 1,114 days since the Blake Griffin trade, but everyone knew this day, in some form, would arrive. The Detroit Pistons traded for Blake in a move that shocked the NBA world and injected some excitement into the Pistons for the first time in a long time. But it was never enough, and everyone knew it was never going to be enough.
It’s been 846 days since Blake dropped a career-high 50 points against the 76ers. Griffin secured the overtime victory thanks to all-around play that was not possible in his younger years. He was the spoke of the offense, dishing six assists, collecting 14 rebounds, and hitting five 3-pointers.
It’s been 746 days since Blake Griffin was named an All-Star as a member of the Detroit Pistons — his first All-Star appearance after a four-year absence. Proof that Griffin still had something left in the tank, and the ability to perform as a player that had rebuilt his game. Moving away from highlight dunks and into a player that could score at all three levels and be one of the best passing big men in the game.
It’s been 665 games since Blake Griffin tasted playoff basketball. A 127-104 beatdown for the four-game sweep at the hands of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Griffin missed the first two games with a sore knee, and came back with a giant knee brace in games three and four. He played admirably but it wasn’t enough. It was never enough.
It’s been 431 days since the Detroit Pistons played the Dallas Mavericks in Mexico City. The Pistons would lose the game 122-111 and fall to 10-15 on the season. Griffin would struggle, connecting on just 3 of his 16 shots including going 1-of-10 from 3-point range. On the other side of the floor was the NBA’s newest star Luka Doncic.
Luka wowed the crowd and garnered the spotlight in ways that Griffin did as a rookie nearly 10 years prior. Doncic finished the game with the victory, and a 41-point, 12-rebound, 11-assist triple-double. Blake finished with 10 points including these two.
It’s been 431 days since Blake Griffin dunked a basketball in an NBA basketball game.
So, yes, it was always going to end like this. Necessitated by a team rebuilding and a player starting his NBA mortality in the face. Both sides know it’s for the best to move on from one another, and they’ve probably known that, at least in the back of their mind for a long time.
That’s why the Clippers wanted out of Griffin’s deal almost as soon as the ink dried. And that’s why everyone figured a win-now move trade for Griffin to Detroit would really be a win never move. There were still too many holes on Detroit’s roster, and the injuries were almost certainly going to catch up to Blake to a point of no return.
I’ve been impressed by Blake’s professionalism, leadership and play on the court since he arrived in Detroit. Still, it’s profoundly sad to see such a vital player wasted during his prime years and now sapped of so much of the ability that made him great.
The day of reckoning was inevitable, and it was only a question of when it would arrive. I’m glad for both Griffin and the Pistons, they aren’t dragging things out unnecessarily. Sure, after today’s announcement the two sides are working on a trade (unlikely) or buyout (very likely), it’ll take some time for the dust to clear. But Blake has played his final game in a Pistons uniform, and the Pistons no longer will force a proud veteran on a losing team playing losing basketball.
It was always going to end like this. Now Detroit gets to get on with its rebuild, giving minutes to young players like Saddiq Bey and Sekou Doumbouya. Jerami Grant gets to become even more of a focal point of the offense. And Blake Griffin gets a fresh start, hopefully in a contending situation.
He’s not an MVP-caliber player, or even an all-NBA candidate anymore. But he’s smart, he’ll play his ass off, and he’s earned the right to find a role on a good team. Neither side is going to get away clean.
Blake will surely sacrifice millions of dollars to obtain his freedom, and Detroit will pay Blake millions of dollars to kindly go away and catch on somewhere else. If this move was inevitable, and it surely was, then it might as well happen now.
No sense in dragging this out. There are only so many days left in any player’s career, after all.