The Pistons and power forward Blake Griffin have agreed to a contract buyout that will pave the way for him to become an unrestricted free agent, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Thursday that Detroit and Griffin were working toward a buyout.
According to Wojnarowski, most of the NBA’s contending teams have interest in Griffin, who figures to make a decision on where he’ll sign in the near future after he speaks to his top suitors. Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link) specifically names the Lakers, Clippers, Nets, Heat and Warriors as teams that have expressed interest, while Woj adds the Trail Blazers to the list of viable options (Twitter link).
Griffin has been out of the Pistons lineup since Feb. 15, when he and the team agreed to work toward a solution that would expedite his exit from Detroit. The Pistons were focused on developing their younger players, while the 31-year-old’s preference was to join a contending team, so both sides were on board with pursuing a trade or buyout.
Although Griffin has made six All-Star teams and five All-NBA squads over the course of his impressive career, health issues have significantly limited his impact this season. He has averaged a career-worst 12.3 PPG on 36.5% shooting in 20 games (31.3 MPG).
The former first overall pick also has one of the league’s most onerous contracts, including a $36.8M cap hit in 2020-21, followed by a $38.96M player option for ’21-22. That deal presumably made it impossible for the Pistons to find a reasonable trade, which is why the team and his reps shifted their focus to a buyout.
It will be fascinating to see how much salary Griffin agreed to give up as part of the agreement. Most players who are bought out by their teams are on expiring contracts, but it seems safe to assume Griffin didn’t simply decline his player option as part of the deal. The Pistons will likely be on the hook for a significant amount of 2021-22 salary, though they’ll have the option of stretching next season’s cap hit across three seasons.
Griffin will spend two days on waivers before he’s officially free to sign with a new team, but as long as the Pistons finalize his release soon, he should have plenty of time to find a new home by the start of the season’s second half next Wednesday.