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DBB on 3: A Eulogy for the Blake Griffin Era

I come not to bury Blake, but to praise him...or something like that.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Well that was unexpected. Hot on the heels of the news Andre Drummond was being sat until the Cleveland Cavaliers could find a way to move him, came the news that the Detroit Pistons were going to do basically the exact same thing with Blake Griffin. The situations are quite different in that Drummond is on an expiring contract and is still only 27 years old while Blake has a player option for one more year at nearly $39 million and is a very old 32.

I think we all had high-ish hopes that Blake would return to old form at least a bit before being traded, so Detroit might get some return, but it definitely looks like that ship has sailed and parting ways any way that works in an amicable manner does seem to make sense for both sides.

In any event we thought we’d use this forum to get impressions from some of our esteemed contributors here at DBB and to offer up some words to the (soon to be) departed.

1. What was your first thought when you heard that Blake Griffin has probably played his last game in a Piston uniform?

Ben Gulker: Finally. I wish Blake Griffin all the best wherever he lands, but this finally closes the chapter that was opened when Chauncey Billups was traded for Allen Iverson. No more retools and reloads - a full rebuild. Finally.

Ku Khahil: First thought was— “Please don’t say they’re trading an asset to get him off.” Then I clicked the report and all my worries went away.

Brady Frederickson: Surprise, actually. I didn’t see a way for Blake to leave Detroit this season. My assumption had always been that he’d be bought out after the 2022 trade deadline. Turns out, he’ll be gone about a year earlier than expected.

Lazarus Jackson: Surprise. I figured this was coming, but I figured this was coming ... later than this. Like, after the trade deadline? Sure, that makes more sense. Now? A month plus before the trade deadline? That makes less sense. I wonder what the impetus was, honestly. Is the Saddiq Bey explosion the thing that catalyzed this?

enbiejowiec: It was a mixed bag. First, astonishment that they decided to do this now. Blake was looking a little more dynamic lately on a couple of plays, so I thought that the idea is to use this season to allow him to regain more of his basketball prowess (but to do this by also lowering his minutes) and decide how to end this relationship in the next offseason. Second, some thoughts about how Troy can use possible cap space after the job he did with the one he had last summer (well, fall to be precise), and that it’s good that he doesn’t sit on his hands. Third, a little worried if it won’t make us win a few more games. But in this case what was reassuring was that it was with Blake playing that Jerami played within himself (so now I’m also a little afraid if he’s ready to take the torch this quick), and we’re a Delon trade away of still being well prepared for draft lottery (then only the kids maturing fast can change it, but I can take it). Third, wondering if this is a complete tear down do we also will try to part ways with Dwane Casey. Fourth and last but not least, that it must be a better way to deal with this type of situation than paying players this amount of money for not doing their job while economic condition of so many people around the world is so fragile. And that CBA allowing rich teams taking advantage of small market teams salary space through this whole buyout market is screwed.

Justin Lambregtse: Sadness. I was never the biggest fan of Blake Griffin before he came to the Pistons. The fact that he embraced Detroit and put the team on his back in 2018-2019 has made him one of my favorite players. It’s sad to see his body let him down like it has and I wish him nothing but the best.

David Fernandez: It felt like an emotional weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I was happy, and a little sad all at once, because I appreciate what Blake was able to do while in Detroit, but it was most likely going to end this way. It was clear that he wasn’t a part of Detroit’s rebuilding future, and that he should probably ride out the final stage of his career trying to help a contender, so I was happy for both the young guys on Detroit’s roster and for Blake.

2. What do you see as the best possible outcome for both sides? What is the most likely outcome?

Ben Gulker: A buyout. It lets Blake choose his landing spot this season, instead of wasting away through a rebuild and ensures he makes at least most of what his max contract was supposed to pay him over the duration.

Ku Khahil: I think the only outcome is a buyout. They’re not trading him without giving up multiple assets, and Troy Weaver isn’t going to do that.

Brady Frederickson: A buyout. There’s zero chance anybody trades for Blake, nor is there much of a chance the Pistons acquire anything of note or value in a trade. Buying him out while saving as much as possible in 2021-22 is the goal. Let him have his chance to play for a contender again, he deserves it.

Lazarus Jackson: The only real outcome is a buyout.

enbiejowiec: Not trading any assets, taking even worse salary or try to stretch it somehow (if the last one is still possible). I think I can live with everything else but those three things. Just deal with it with class, learn how not to put yourself in similar situation in the future and move on.

Justin Lambregtse: There is really only one outcome, and that is a buyout. There is no way anybody trades for that contract. I hope he catches on with a contender and embraces a role as a bench bully who can make some shots.

David Fernandez: Blake gets bought out. Detroit pays up the rest of his salary this season, and hopefully only half of what he’s on the books for next season.

3. You have been asked to give the eulogy at Blake’s fictional Pistons funeral. What are your words about the soon-to-be recently departed?

Ben Gulker: We are gathered here today to remember a Pistons career that began with promise, peaked with a taste of success untasted for a generation, but ultimately ended when one player’s knees, sacrificed on the altar of a first-round playoff sweep, gave in. Today, we remember those good times and mourn their passing.

But, we are reminded that death always gives way to new life. And so while we give each other the space to grieve in this moment and the next, we also anticipate that moment when our sadness will give way to the joy that only new life can give.

Ku Khahil: Blake became my favorite Piston ever after 2018-19. I had someone tweet this to me, but it really did feel like that Blake looked at this situation as “this will be my redemption story, but also Detroit’s redemption story”. He gave his prime away to get this team a playoff appearance and his body hasn’t been able to recover since. It’s incredibly sad it ended this way, with his body broken, but it is what it is.

Brady Frederickson: Blake Griffin and Grant Hill will forever be remembered as great Detroit athletes who were never able to win anything. There’s nothing wrong with that in the scheme of things; Blake and Grant’s faults were a product of their supporting cast and their failing bodies, not their ability as All-NBA players. I’ll look back fondly on the Blake Griffin Era, even if, in hindsight, it should have never come to be.

Lazarus Jackson: Blake Griffin didn’t have to give the city of Detroit everything he did. He could’ve shown up, pouted, preserved his body, and been traded elsewhere under a new regime. But Blake didn’t do that. He added more to his game, gave his all every night, and gave Pistons fans the most exciting season of basketball they’ve had in a decade. When fans are allowed back into arenas, he will be given the adoration he deserves.

enbiejowiec: Hmm, I guess I gave Blake’s eulogy two times already, in his player profile and in a piece I wrote after his best season, but just didn’t know that this is it. I don’t think I need to add something to this. I only wish that I won’t need to take something back based on how this parting ways will be finalized.

Justin Lambregtse: He gave his all to a team that didn’t deserve it and embraced a city after his old team did him dirty. He deserves nothing but the best.

David Fernandez: Thank you to Blake Griffin, who had one of the best individual season’s from a player that we’ve ever seen in a Pistons uniform. Cheers! *takes shot **cries


So you’ve heard our thoughts, please share your Blake stories and cry some Griffin tears in the comments below. As always you can join in at home:

1. What was your first thought when you heard that Blake Griffin has probably played his last game in a Piston uniform?

2. What do you see as the best possible outcome for both sides? What is the most likely outcome?

3. You have been asked to give the eulogy at Blake’s fictional Pistons funeral. What are your words about the soon-to-be recently departed?