On Monday, Jan. 19, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Detroit Pistons agreed on a deal that would send Blake Griffin to Detroit.
The trade came out of nowhere, with the Pistons sitting a game and a half out of the playoff race and hardly seeming like a threat to take down the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Pistons agreed to send Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris and a 2018 first-round pick to the Clippers in exchange for Blake Griffin, Brice Johnson and Willie Reed.
The Clippers trading away arguably their best player clearly means the team has given up on the 2017-18 season and are looking to rebuild for the future.
With this in mind, the Clippers made a very good trade and will walk away from this as the clear winners.
Los Angeles freed up almost $30 million in cap space by trading Griffin while also acquiring a first-round pick in 2018 that has a chance to be a high pick.
With a lot of cap room now, the Clippers are ready to go full out for the top free agents this summer including LeBron James and Paul George, and with two first-round picks in the draft, they have a good chance of getting talented young players.
The Clippers also landed Bradley and Harris – two role players who could have a big effect on the team.
Bradley, who is considered by many to be a premier perimeter defender in the league, has proven to be a huge asset in the past, as he helped lead the Celtics to the first seed in 2016-17.
Harris is a very skilled scorer. He averages 18 points per game and is shooting over 40 percent. On top of that, Harris only makes $1.6 million per year, allowing the Clippers to keep the young scorer and still go after top notch free agents.
Later in the week, the Clippers announced they plan to clean house entirely. Los Angeles said they will be shopping the remaining players on their roster with trade value, mainly DeAndre Jordan and Louis Williams.
If the Clippers can exchange these players for more young talent or draft picks, they could be looking good going into free agency this summer.
Detroit comes away from this trade as the clear losers. The Pistons traded away two key contributors and a first-round pick for an aging player who hasn’t played like he’s capable of in recent years, and two guys who will most likely not be in the rotation.
Sure Griffin is a good player, but he has steadily declined in recent years and proved this year he’s incapable of being a number-one scoring option on a successful team.
Detroit already has a front court star in Andre Drummond, so it would have made more sense for Detroit to go after some back court help. Somebody like Kemba Walker, who is on the trade block, would have been the obvious choice, and he already has chemistry with Drummond given that they played together in college.
Not only did the Pistons overpay for Griffin, but he doesn’t put Detroit over the hump. With Griffin, the Pistons are still not contenders in the East, not to mention the league.