Griffin Prepared For 'A Lot Of Changes' With Pistons -- And Whatever That Brings

It will likely be his final season in Detroit.

Will Burchfield
June 11, 2020 - 4:34 pm
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When Blake Griffin arrived in Detroit midway through the 2017-18 season, the Pistons were aiming for the playoffs. He was the hired gun. It's a long way from where the team is now, trying to reload for the future. 

It leaves Griffin looking a bit like Miguel Cabrera, a big-money star from a different era. And it raises questions as to how much longer he'll be in Detroit. 

"My future, I’m just playing basketball," Griffin told reporters in a video conference Thursday. "I don’t see this as being my last contract, I don’t see this as a decline. So no, I haven’t given that much thought." 

Griffin is signed through next season with a cap hit of $36.5 million, plus a player option for 2021-22 that costs nearly $40 million. It seems clear he'll be with the Pistons when next season begins, with his trade value diminished by his massive salary and uncertain health. 

That would put him smack in the middle of a youth movement, at the age of 31. Asked how he'd feel about being part of a rebuild, Griffin shifted the focus to those in charge.

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"That’s up to the front office and what they want to do and how they want to go about it," Griffin said. "At a certain time, at the right time, I’ll have those conversations. But if I’m on the Detroit Pistons, then I’m doing everything I can to prepare to play for them and win games. That’s just how you’re wired as a player.

"As far as what we do in the offseason, what we want to do next year, that’s going to be up to them. Whenever the time is right, we’ll have those conversations." 

The Pistons entered this season eyeing home court in the first round of the playoffs. But Griffin never seemed fully healthy after ending the season prior on a bad knee, and then injuries to Luke Kennard and Reggie Jackson made a bad start worse. By the trade deadline, the organization made the decision to chart a new course forward.

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Andre Drummond is gone. So is Jackson. Derrick Rose and others could be traded this offseason. When next season begins, there's a good chance Luke Kennard will be the only player left from the team that Griffin joined in 2018. The losses will likely come in bunches. But Griffin is looking forward to the future, either way. 

"Basketball in general always gets me excited," he said. "I’ll be excited even when it’s time to go to training camp. This is a team, a coaching staff and a support staff that I really enjoy being around. When you come to work every day and have great people on your team, it’s just fun to be around that.

"So whatever our team looks like, we have a lot of decisions to make this summer and a lot of changes will probably be made, I look forward to that and look forward to whatever role they ask me to play." 

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Aside from his place in Detroit's long-term plans, the biggest question for Griffin is his health. He played in just 18 games this season after undergoing his second knee surgery in as many years. He says he's not declining, and his numbers from 2018-19 back that up. But it doesn't matter what he says if his body doesn't agree. 

Determined to prove his point, Griffin's been working out frequently during the NBA's shutdown, as often as six times a week. He said he'd by be full-go by now in a normal offseason.

"As far as rehab goes, I feel great," he said. "Just looking to keep that same level of training and be fresh when the season rolls around, whenever that may be."

It will likely be sometime in December. And it may well be Griffin's last in Detroit. Barring an unexpected leap forward by the Pistons, it's hard to see the aging star opting in for another uphill climb in 2021-22 -- even for $40 million. We couldn't blame him. Griffin's been nothing but a soldier since coming here, and he'll be remembered as such on his way out. 

"The support from Pistons fans and the city of Detroit has been great since day one," Griffin said. "I have a lot of respect for the city of Detroit and the Pistons fanbase, just for how much they’ve stuck behind us and been with us. I appreciate playing for an organization and a fanbase that is so top notch."