A few things have happened in the past 24 hours to shake up the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Most important, the Clippers traded Blake Griffin’s contract to the Pistons for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, a 2018 first-round draft pick and 2019 second-round pick. And… the trade makes little to no sense, for me. While Griffin is in the midst of his statistically-best season since 2013-14, his contract extends until he’s 33 (which is pretty old in the NBA, unless you’re LeBron). I have trouble believing that Griffin’s going to remain healthy for the next five years; I mean, he hasn’t even played 70% of the Clippers’ games this season! What’s more, the Pistons gave up their top two scoring guards for him, which suggests that their plan is to build around Blake, I guess? I mean, the sorry-ass Clippers have struggled with deciding whether to build around Griffin for years: their attempts to get him off the books should be a clear indication that he’s not a franchise player. And I almost forgot to mention, Griffin has a stand-up comedy career in LA. Will he be able to develop his brand in Detroit? Doubt it. There are so many questions left unanswered for both Detroit and Blake. So, because I’m unable to rationalize this move for the Pistons, I’m going to offer a possibility that could bail out the Pistons’ GM, Jeff Bower. The Cavaliers are struggling to beat teams like Indiana and Orlando, yet LeBron is in win-now mode. Dan Gilbert is looking to sell The Cavaliers. Dan Gilbert is from Detroit. Are the pieces adding up? What if before Gilbert sells the team, he makes a quick move to acquire Blake Griffin for a desperate Cleveland team and in doing so, sets up the Pistons with a new guard or two and the Brooklyn draft pick? While it’s not likely, this move could be beneficial for both sides, assuming Griffin can finish the season healthy. But damn, I won’t be able to express enough anguish for Griffin when LeBron bails this off-season (which is happening: his doctors/trainers are already looking for homes in LA) and he’s stuck in Cleveland with Isaiah Thomas for the next five years. I don’t think Cleveland has a good stand-up comedy scene either, unless you count the Browns.
In other news, Jabari Parker is set to make his season debut for the Bucks on Saturday. Coming off a 2016-17 season in which he averaged 20 points, six rebounds and three assists, his return will render a hot Bucks team a legitimate contender in the East. With Parker back, I can see the Bucks making a run to overtake Cleveland for the three seed, which they currently sit two and a half games behind. This Bucks team is young, entertaining, and has had a good couple of weeks! I look for Giannis, Malcolm Brogdon and Jabari Parker to become a big three, of sorts, in the season’s second half.
All-Star point guard John Wall is having a knee procedure which is expected to sideline him for two months. This effectively ends the Wizards season. I’m not saying the team was ever going to make a real difference in the East, but they’re tied with the Bucks and Pacers at eight games back and only two and a half games behind Cleveland for the three seed. I mean, the Wizards took Boston to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season—who really knows what they’re capable of? But Without Wall’s 34 minutes, 20 points and nine rebounds, I foresee this team finishing the season below .500.
-Admin Tam (@tomhall2323)