By: Bogart Lipe
*Takes a deep breath.*
*Takes another, longer, deep breath.*
Where do we start? From what has seemed like out of nowhere, Stan Van Gundy just made what feels like another stunning attempt at saving this Pistons team. Earlier this evening, it was announced that the Pistons are trading Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, a protected 2018 first round pick, and a second round pick to acquire Blake Griffin, Brice Johnson, and Willie Reed from the Los Angeles Clippers. Let’s try our best to make sense of it all.
First off, this is what SVG needed to do. He had three (but really only two) options leading up to next Thursday’s trade deadline: 1) sit back and see where this team goes (bad idea, considering the Pistons have lost 8 straight and had no sights on ending the streak anytime soon), 2) blow it all up, or 3) try to make a move for a star. SVG chose the third option, essentially betting it all on Griffin. Blake is a bona fide star when healthy, but has his well-documented health problems. Regardless, Van Gundy has now acquired the brightest league-wide star the Pistons have had in at least a decade and arguably much, much longer.
So what’s it all mean? Avery Bradley seemed more and more of a long shot to resign, and didn’t appear worth it for the Pistons to even extend him a potential max offer at year’s end. Boban, although a fan favorite, was not as effective an experiment as the team had hoped. The loss of Tobias Harris stings the most, as he has given the Pistons as much as they could have asked in the nearly two years that he’s been on the team. All things considered, however, this is a risk that makes sense for the Pistons. Griffin is averaging 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists a game, and now will combine with Andre Drummond to create one of the more potent frontcourts in all of the NBA. The only questions that remain are whether Blake will positively acclimate to Michigan life after spending his last nine years in LA (iffy) and whether he will stay healthy (really iffy).
Best case scenario: Blake and Dre connect, Blake stays healthy and taps into his uber-special 2015 playoffs potential, and the next four plus years he helps finally propel the Pistons into Eastern Conference contention and possibly more. Worst case? Well, it certainly can’t be worse than the recent Pistons performances. The Pistons have their backs against the wall, and a makeover like this one may prove effective. Stanley Johnson will likely once again step into a starting role, joined by Reggie Bullock, and hopefully sooner rather than later a healthy Reggie Jackson. Until Jackson’s return, whenever that may be, Blake can also handle some ball handling duties. He has a history of shining in that role, and Point Guard Blake involved in a two man game with Dre could spell misery for opposing defenses.
Stan Van Gundy the GM deserves the benefit of the doubt, as he has rarely, if ever, lost a trade. It’s difficult to trade for a star, and objectively the Pistons may have acquired Griffin at a reasonable price. Like anything in life, Blake Griffin provides high risk (with his injury concerns and 5 year $170 million contract), but with it comes ultra-high potential rewards. Blake has a potential impact worlds larger than anyone the Pistons gave up, and now provides a go-to scorer that the Pistons have been searching for what seems like years. Tonight marks yet again a new era in Detroit Basketball, regardless of outcome. Tomorrow at 8pm on TNT the Pistons take on the Cavaliers and well, everybody…here we go.