Pistons acquire Blake Griffin from Clippers in blockbuster deal

Blake Griffin looks at Doc Rivers after coming off the court.Blake Griffin might have thought he was going to retire as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, but the Clippers had other plans. Griffin was traded to the Detroit Pistons on Monday in exchange for a package of players including Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, and a first-round pick. Griffin leaves a Los Angeles team on the edge of the Western Conference playoff picture to join the Pistons, who are on the edge of the Eastern Conference playoff picture and are hoping Griffin will put them into the postseason.

The full deal sees Griffin and bench players Brice Johnson and Willie Reed head to Detroit, while Harris, Bradley, and Boban Marjanovic are joining the Clippers. The first-round pick Los Angeles is receiving is top-four lottery protected until 2021, and the Clippers are also receiving a 2019 second-round pick. The trade was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who began Monday with reports the Pistons were looking to move Bradley.

The Griffin trade comes as a surprise not only because it involves a five-time All-Star who is not yet 30, but also because the Clippers spent the first part of last offseason courting Griffin before signing him to a massive contract extension. Griffin is in the first year of a five-year, $171-million deal - one that he signed after watching a simulated ceremony of the Clippers retiring his jersey number. By trading their best player, the Clippers are indicating their intent to rebuild in the midst of a disappointing season, with DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams also rumoured to be on the trading block.

While Detroit certainly received the best player in the trade, Griffin needs to be healthy in order to be effective on the court. Injuries have been a staple of Griffin’s career, with new ones sidelining him seemingly every year. He suffered a broken kneecap before he even played an NBA game, and the list of ailments he’s recovered from is a long one with plenty of variety. The last time Griffin played 80 games in a season was 2013-14, and his body will only become more brittle with age.

Detroit has lost eight straight and sits two and a half games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the final East playoff spot. The Pistons are counting on Griffin to spark their lagging offense alongside Reggie Jackson and combine with Andre Drummond to form a formidable frontcourt duo, but they do not have a deep roster to fall back on if Griffin is unavailable.