Title: Salary cap breakdown: The financial implications of the Pistons bet on Blake Griffin
Date: January 30, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Detroit, I explored the salary cap fall-out of the Pistons acquiring Blake Griffin in a pre-deadline blockbuster.
This better work.
That might be the biggest takeaway from the Detroit Pistons’ blockbuster acquisition of Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers in a six-player trade on Monday. And as much as that might sound reductive – of course they’re hoping it works – this is an immense bet on this being the move the Pistons need to get where they’ve been trying to go for the next few seasons. Griffin is in, he figures to be in Detroit for a long time, and the fit with Andre Drummond better be as seamless as Stan Van Gundy is betting.
This is not to say it won’t be. Griffin is a tremendous player, the type of star that wasn’t landing in Detroit through cap space or the draft without a full-scale rebuild. He is a star, and an entertaining one at that. The logic here is plain: The Pistons gave up assets they were comfortable losing to effectively lock Griffin in on a four-and-a-half year max deal. The alternate route – flipping the expiring Avery Bradley for a modest return, hanging on to a quite-good Tobias Harris at least a while longer, and using their mid-first round pick to add depth – wasn’t assurance enough of a return to the playoffs.
Griffin is an upside play for a team that seems to feel the need to win now. That upside, though, is limited by the complete lack of financial flexibility the Pistons have to support the Griffin-Drummond pairing from here. It’s another symptom of Van Gundy wearing both the head coach and the team president hats, something that’s been rearing its head for some time now. The Pistons backed themselves into a bit of a corner this summer with an unnecessary Langston Galloway deal on top of an already tight cap sheet, and while Griffin is a far bigger piece than they were likely to be able to add, how the Pistons get better in the years to come is a tough question to answer.