Before the 2018 February NBA trade deadline, the Detroit Pistons traded for Blake Griffin with the belief that he could turn them into a legitimate title contender in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, since acquiring Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers, the Pistons’ only greatest achievement was reaching the playoffs once where they were easily swept by the Milwaukee Bucks. After sending Andre Drummond to the Cleveland Cavaliers, rumors are circulating that the Pistons are planning to trade Griffin in the 2020 NBA offseason and undergo a full-scale rebuild.
One of the NBA teams who could express a strong interest in acquiring Griffin from the Pistons is the New York Knicks. Once he becomes officially available on the trading block, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report believes that the Knicks could “buy low” on Griffin. To get Griffin out of Detroit, Swartz suggested that the Knicks could simply offer a trade package that includes the expiring contracts of Elfrid Payton, Bobby Portis, and Taj Gibson to the Pistons.
“With Detroit already offloading Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, the asking price for Griffin shouldn’t be that high. The two years and $75.8 million remaining on his contract no longer fit a rebuilding Pistons team, and Detroit flipped 26-year-old Drummond for just a pair of expiring contracts and a 2023 second-round pick. New York could likely keep all of its first-round picks and core talent, instead pitching the Pistons on the idea of three expiring contracts, much like they accepted for Drummond. For the Pistons, this would rid them of the team’s biggest contract while adding two players (Portis, 25, and Payton, 26) still technically young enough to fit a rebuild.”
Though he is still recovering from an injury, the successful acquisition of Griffin would fulfill the Knicks’ dream of adding a legitimate NBA superstar on their roster. When healthy, Griffin could make the Knicks a more competitive team in the Eastern Conference next season, giving them a very reliable scoring option, rebounder, facilitator, and floor-spacer.
If the Pistons agree to send Griffin to New York for Payton, Portis, and Gibson, the Knicks would still have enough assets left to trade for another superstar this summer. As Swartz noted, other potential trade targets for the Knicks include Terry Rozier of the Charlotte Hornets, Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kevin Love and Drummond of the Cavaliers, and Zach Lavine of the Chicago Bulls.
Meanwhile, though they wouldn’t be receiving a future draft pick from the Knicks, the potential deal would allow the Pistons to acquire three veterans who could serve as mentors to their young core. If Payton, Portis, and Gibson perform well in the 2020-21 NBA season, the Pistons could use their expiring contract as trade chips to acquire assets that could help them speed up the rebuilding process.