Blake Griffin gave up a hefty sum in his buyout agreement with the Detroit Pistons. The $13.3 million he forfeited from his remaining contract with the team will give Troy Weaver a bit of additional financial firepower this offseason. If Vincent Goodwill’s numbers are more or less correct, the Pistons will save $4.3 million and $8.7 million in the next two seasons. That represents nearly equal pro-rated salary commitments for the rest of this season and next.
Of the $13.3 million Blake Griffin gave up, $4.3 million will be applied to this year’s salary cap and $8.7 million will go to next season’s cap number, per sources— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) March 5, 2021
For current year, this will mean that the franchise, if nothing changes, will be around $1.5-2 million above the salary cap for the remainder of the season. There is a chance that because of freeing up a bit of money and the roster spot, it might make sense to convert Saben Lee’s two-way deal to a full NBA contract. That would be beneficial less so on the court than in the offseason when they would have full control of Lee’s rights and whether he returns to the team next season.
The real benefit is next season, however. This offseason, accounting for the likely high draft pick Detroit will obtain, the Pistons were projected to be about $6 million under the salary cap (assuming they renounce Dennis Smith Jr and waive Rodney McGruder). The $8.7 million “reduction” of Griffin contract owed by the Pistons, will more than double that sum. The Pistons will also likely have 13 players under contract give or take a Svi Mykhailiuk and won’t have as many roster roles to fill.
Altogether, this could be enough to sign one impact player or perhaps two Mason Plumlee type rotation pieces or three high-upside players in the mold of Josh Jackson. You get the idea.
However, both of the sums for this and next season, could be bigger, depending on the amount of money Griffin will earn on any contract he signs next season. According to XXVII article of NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, if a player whose contract was terminated with a given team, signs a deal with another team, his former team can set-off some amount of money from its cap sheet in accordance with the following formula: the sum of new contract(s) in given season minus minimum wage for a player with one year of experience (for this year it’s $1,445,697), divided by two.
Thus, if Griffin will go to Nets, which rumors indicate as the most likely destination for him, he can get there on a taxpayer Midlevel Exception or fit into Brooklyn’s Disable Player Exception. In this case, Detroit would be able to cut its salary obligations by an additional $2 million and change. Again, for this season it wouldn’t mean too much, as it’d put the franchise around $400,000 under the salary cap. So it’d give a little bit of flexibility in potential trades or allow to sign some young player for the rest of the season. But a similar sum can power up Troy’s clip for the offseason moves as well, if Blake can sign next year for something close to taxpayer Midlevel Exception.
Of course, those numbers could be even higher if Blake somehow signs for even more money. From teams likely to make the playoffs, the Knicks as just one example will have more than $15 million in cap space to use. But New York has declared it’s not interested in Griffin.
In his first offseason, Troy Reaper — with the help of substantial cap space — entertained fans with exciting free agency moves, elvated and franchise and all his deals seem to be more valuable now than the moment they were signed. When all of the “reductions” of Blakes’ buyout adds up to the modest but not none cap space the Pistons will have in coming summer, Troy again will be able to make another such free agents acquisitions in his second offseason.