The 28-year-old was traded to the Detroit Pistons on Monday, and while the Clippers didn’t get a whole lot in return, they should be happy with the deal. Griffin’s five-year, $171 million contract was an albatross that would have held the franchise back for years, and now it’s off the books for good.
Yes, the Clippers also got a 25-year-old wing having a career year in Tobias Harris, and a excellent defensive guard in Avery Bradley. But in reality, this deal was about removing a terrible contract from their ledger. I wrote this summer that Griffin’s deal was among the worst given out in free agency, and I still believe that.
Griffin’s deal will pay him $32 million next year, $34.4 million in 2019-20, $36.8 million in 2020-21 and he’ll have a player option for a ridiculous $38.96 million in 2021-22. That’s just an insane contract for a 28-year-old with a lengthy injury history who has likely peaked.
Griffin hasn’t been an All-Star or made an All-NBA team since 2015 and his PER has dropped to 20.70 this season, which ranks 34th in the NBA. Griffin’s PER ranks 10th among power forwards this year with guys like John Collins, Bobby Portis and teammate Montrezl Harrell outpacing him.
When the Clippers handed Griffin one of the richest deals in NBA history over the summer, he was coming off a season in which he ranked 25th in PER (22.71). He was playing on about the same level as Enes Kanter (23.74) at the time. That’s not the guy you mortgage your future for.
When you look at how many games Griffin has missed over the years, it’s even more obvious he should never have been signed to that monster contract. In his seven-plus NBA seasons, Griffin has played a full 82-game schedule just once (though he did play all 66 games in the shortened 2011-12 season). In the last six seasons (including 2017-18), Griffin has missed 103 games. That’s an average of more than 17 games a season. Again, he’s not the guy you tie nearly one-third of your team’s salary cap to.
In the end, the Clippers will be better for having traded Blake Griffin. They aren’t a contender now, and would be best served by selling off the rest of their veterans and beginning a rebuild. Once Chris Paul wanted out, things were doomed for the Clips. Now it’s about starting over.