Blake Griffin is having an MVP-caliber year, averaging a career-high of 26.1 points per game while shooting 36 percent from the 3-point line. Could the Minnesota Timberwolves make a splash?
The Timberwolves are still on the cusp of the playoffs. At 25-28, they sit 3.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the competitive Western Conference. After squeaking into the playoffs last year on the last day of the season, this year has been a little more challenging —mainly due to the dysfunction of Jimmy Butler and then the firing of former coach Tom Thibodeau.
Missing out on playoffs is not only a step back for the Wolves, but they aren’t going to win the Zion Williamson lottery, so a draft pick does not really help. With the trade deadline swiftly approaching, the Wolves need to be buyers and make a splash by trading for Detroit’s Blake Griffin.
The Andre Drummond and Griffin experiment just has not yielded the results the Pistons had hoped for. The Pistons have been toiling around .500 for much of the season and likely won’t make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. They too are in a similar situation like the T-Wolves in that if they miss out on the playoffs, it won’t be by much and also will not net them a draft pick.
However, the Pistons would be motivated to get out of the remaining $141 million owed on Griffin’s contract.
Here’s how the Wolves can make this happen: trade Taj Gibson, Jerryd Bayless, Jeff Teague, and Dario Saric for Griffin. This makes sense because the Pistons receive Gibson and Bayless, who are both on expiring contracts. Teague has a $19 million player option for next year and at 30 years old, he could opt out in hopes of securing a long-term deal.
Saric is really the key player here for the Pistons. He finished last year averaging 14.6 points while shooting nearly 40 percent from the 3-point line. Saric is still on his rookie contract so he’ll be a restricted free agent heading into the 2020 season. He’s owed only about $6 million over the next two seasons, making him much more affordable with a strong upside.
The Wolves get a perennial All-Star in Griffin who, if the Pistons were winning, would be in the conversation for MVP. Griffin is averaging a career-high 26.1 points per game (ranked 10th in the league) to go with 8 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting 36 percent from long range. He’s also played many minutes as the lead ball-handler, which would work well in Minnesota as Josh Okogie is eased into the starting lineup.
Griffin truly brings a unique skill-set. He can operate on the perimeter as a catch-and-shoot deep threat, play in the post with his back towards the basket and run some point and find open shots for Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. He will also alleviate a lot of the pressure on Wiggins and KAT by drawing double teams and forcing opposing power forwards to guard out on the perimeter.
With a starting five comprised from some combination of KAT, Wiggins, Griffin, Josh Okogie, Robert Covington, and Rose, the Wolves would have a stacked lineup that could surprise teams in the West and go deep into the playoffs.
And remember, Griffin is signed through the 2021-2022 season, so the Wolves would essentially have three cornerstone players (Wiggins, KAT, and Griffin) all locked in for the long haul.