LOS ANGELES: Blake Griffin bid farewell to the only NBA team he has ever known on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) and readied himself to lead the sagging Detroit Pistons into the playoffs.
The five-time NBA All-Star power forward was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Pistons on Monday night in a deal that also sent Willie Reed and Brice Johnson to Detroit for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Serbian big man Boban Marjanovic and future first- and second-round NBA Draft choices.
“Needed a night to digest and reflect on what happened,” The 28-year-old said on Twitter on Tuesday. “I am so proud to have been part of the success of the Clippers organization.
“Now I’m ready for the next chapter, getting to work and helping the Detroit Pistons make a run in the Eastern Conference.”
Griffin was the 2011 NBA Rookie of the Year and spent eight seasons in all with the Clippers, where he averaged 21.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 35.1 minutes in 504 games, and made the playoffs for six straight years between 2011-2017.
Injury-plagued Griffin was the 2009 first overall draft pick but missed the 2009-10 season with a broken left kneecap, and he has also suffered back spasms, a torn left quad, a broken hand, a staph infection, knee surgery, a broken toe, a sprained left MCL and a concussion.
“A guy became available who is a great player and we took the opportunity to get him,” said Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons’ coach and president of basketball operations.
Griffin, in the first year of a five-year contract worth $173 million, was averaging 22.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists a game for the Clippers this season.
He will unite with center Andre Drummond on a formidable Detroit front-line, but the Pistons’ key might be point guard Reggie Jackson, expected to be sidelined with a right ankle sprain for as long as another three weeks.
The Pistons were 19-14 before Jackson’s injury but have been 3-12 since then with the third-worst offensive input in the NBA over the same span.
The Clippers are ninth in the Western Conference at 25-24, one win behind Denver for the final playoff position, while the Pistons, who have dropped eight consecutive games, are 22-26 and ninth in the Eastern Conference, 2 1/2 games behind Philadelphia for the final East playoff berth.