AP source: Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons agree to buyout


Blake Griffin (AP photo)

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DETROIT (AP) — Blake Griffin’s time in Detroit is over, another significant step in a rebuilding process that has the Pistons at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

The veteran forward and the Pistons have agreed to a contract buyout, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because the move was not yet official.

The Pistons announced last month that they would keep Griffin out of the lineup while resolving his future, a clear sign that the star forward could be on the way out. The Pistons also traded Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks last month.

Griffin, who turns 32 later this month, came to Detroit in a trade during the 2017-18 season. The question now is how valuable he might be to a contending team. He had a terrific 2018-19 season for the Pistons, helping them to the playoffs, but his health has been a concern in Detroit, just as it had been when he was with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Griffin has averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists in the 20 games he’s played this season. ESPN first reported the buyout agreement.

Detroit is just 10-26 this season and had three first-round picks in last year’s draft. A couple of them — Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey — have shown some promise. The Pistons also acquired Jerami Grant in the offseason, and he’s averaging 23.4 points per game.

All of that means it makes sense for the Pistons to move on without Griffin. Detroit traded big man Andre Drummond around this time last year, and the team’s offseason reshuffling left Griffin as one of the few holdovers.

If healthy, Griffin can offer size, versatility and veteran leadership to a contender. He was traded to the Pistons just seven months after signing a $171 million, five-year contract to stay with the Clippers. A couple seasons ago, he averaged a career-high 24.5 points — but even in that 2018-19 campaign, Detroit was swept in the first round of the playoffs, and the team wasn’t able to build on that.

Once one of the league’s most exciting dunkers, Griffin’s game produces fewer highlights now, but he’s become a serviceable threat from 3-point range and can help a team in a number of ways. His injury problems might be less of an issue if there isn’t as much pressure on him to play heavy minutes.

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