Blake Griffin could be set to swap the team sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings for a potential title contender after agreeing a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons. 

Stories on Friday of a parting of the ways between the Pistons and Griffin hardly came as a surprise, considering he had not featured for the team in their previous 10 games prior to the All-Star break. 

Both parties agreed for the 31-year-old to be held off the active roster as the franchise worked towards a solution over his playing future.

With no trade able to be worked out, a settlement has instead been reached with Griffin – whose contract was due to run until the end of the 2021-22 season – that will see him become a much-coveted free agent. 

"Blake has been a great representative for our franchise and for the city of Detroit," Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement.

"His work ethic and his approach to the game contributed a lot to our culture. He has been a consummate pro and we wish him continued success. I'm grateful for everything he did for our team and for our community."

Now the six-time All-Star waits to see what offers come his way. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers are among those interested.

Griffin had averaged 12.3 points per game while shooting 36.5 per cent in his 20 outings for Detroit, who have found wins hard to come by in the 2020-21 campaign. 

Those figures are well down on his career numbers, though. After 642 games, he averages 21.4ppg, as well as 8.7 rebounds and a field goal percentage of 49.5 per cent. The only area of improvement this season has been free-throw success, landing 71 per cent compared to 69.5 per cent overall.

Selected with the first overall pick in the 2009 draft, Griffin spent his first eight seasons in the league with the Los Angeles Clippers, though his debut campaign was a write-off due to injury. 

However, he was named Rookie of the Year in 2011 after playing in all 82 games, making his first All-Star appearance and also winning the dunk contest. Further injury issues hampered his progress, yet the Clippers still gave him a five-year, $173million contract in July 2017. 

Just six months later, he was traded to the Pistons. Griffin was the leading piece in a six-player deal that also saw Detroit give up protected draft picks to acquire the power forward. 

Blake Griffin could be set to swap the team sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings for a potential title contender after reportedly agreeing a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons. 

Stories on Friday of a parting of the ways between the Pistons and Griffin hardly came as a surprise, considering he had not featured for the team in their previous 10 games prior to the All-Star break. 

Both parties had agreed for the 31-year-old to be held off the active roster as the franchise worked towards a solution over his playing future.

With no trade able to be worked out, a settlement has instead been reached with Griffin – whose contract was due to run until the end of the 2021-22 season – that will see him become a much-coveted free agent. 

Now the six-time All-Star waits to see what offers come his way. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers are among those interested.

Griffin had averaged 12.3 points per game while shooting 36.5 per cent in his 20 outings for Detroit, who have found wins hard to come by in the 2020-21 campaign. 

Those figures are well down on his career numbers, though. After 642 games, he averages 21.4ppg, as well as 8.7 rebounds and a field goal percentage of 49.5 per cent. The only area of improvement this season has been free-throw success, landing 71 per cent compared to 69.5 per cent overall.

Selected with the first overall pick in the 2009 draft, Griffin spent his first eight seasons in the league with the Los Angeles Clippers, though his debut campaign was a write-off due to injury. 

However, he was named Rookie of the Year in 2011 after playing in all 82 games, making his first All-Star appearance and also winning the dunk contest. Further injury issues hampered his progress, yet the Clippers still gave him a five-year, $173million contract in July 2017. 

Just six months later, he was traded to the Pistons. Griffin was the leading piece in a six-player deal that also saw Detroit give up protected draft picks to acquire the power forward. 

Blake Griffin's tenure with the Detroit Pistons appears to be over. 

The Pistons have agreed to hold Griffin out of the lineup while the franchise considers either trading the six-time All-Star or possibly buying out his contract, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. 

"After extensive conversation with Blake's representatives, it has been determined that we will begin working to facilitate a resolution regarding his future with the team that maximizes the interests of both parties," Pistons general manager Troy Weaver told ESPN on Monday.

"We respect all the effort Blake has put forth in Detroit and his career and will work to achieve a positive outcome for all involved." 

The trade deadline is March 25 but finding a team willing to take on Griffin's hefty contract could be tricky, considering he is owed a remaining $36.6million this season, in addition to $39m in 2021-22. 

"I am grateful to the Pistons for understanding what I want to accomplish in my career and for working together on the best path forward," Griffin told ESPN in a statement. 

The Pistons have the NBA's fourth-youngest roster age at 24 years, 342 days. The team is looking to rebuild and give more minutes to its younger players, including 21-year-old rookie Saddiq Bey – the 19th pick of the 2020 draft.  

Griffin was the first overall selection in the 2009 draft by the Los Angeles Clippers, and was named the 2010-11 NBA Rookie of the Year, while averaging 22.5 points and a career-high 12.1 rebounds. His 63 double-doubles as a rookie trail only the 68 amassed by Shaquille O'Neal for the Orlando Magic in 1992-93 for the most by a first-year player in the last 35 seasons. 

Traded to Detroit during the 2017-18 season – just 33 games after signing a five-year, $171m max deal with Los Angeles – Griffin's Pistons career got off to a promising start.  

He averaged a career-high 24.5 points and was named an All-Star in his first full season in Detroit in 2018-19 while helping the Pistons reach the playoffs. Injuries, however, have plagued him in the past few seasons and his production has declined dramatically. 

He appeared in just 18 games in 2019-20, averaging 15.5 points and a career-low 4.7 rebounds, while averaging a personal-low 12.3 points and 5.2 boards in 20 games this season. 

In his last game for the Pistons on Friday, Griffin finished with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting with six assists and four rebounds in 35 minutes in a 108-102 win over the Boston Celtics. 

LeBron James revealed the Los Angeles Lakers are having to learn on the fly during the regular season after the defending NBA champions slipped to a second successive defeat.

Without Anthony Davis, who did not play due to injury, and off the back of a narrow loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Lakers made a strong start but faded badly at the Detroit Pistons on Thursday.

James made his first seven shots but had just two points in the second half, the Pistons running out comfortable winners by a 107-92 scoreline for just their fifth victory of the campaign.

For the four-time NBA MVP, however, it is all about the bigger picture, rather than one-off results. With limited practice time available to teams due to the altered schedule amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and a number of new faces having joined during the offseason, the Lakers are having to experiment during games.

"We are all learning on the fly due to the lack of practice time," James said.

"You know with this season it's very difficult to get those practice minutes on the floor and know what does and doesn't work. It's very strange with that.

"We are definitely all adjusting to playing with different line-ups and logging minutes with line-ups that in one game you may not have played with, then it could be [the case] for a few games in a row.

"A lot of our games are also big practices for us too, we have to learn on the fly and coach is still learning different line-ups, which combinations work.

"Myself, I'm out here with certain line-ups I do play with, certain ones I don't. It's all a learning experience and trying to figure things out."

James, who finished with 22 points and 10 assists, insisted his second-half output was not due to tiredness. Far from it, in fact.

"I don't feel tired. I get my sleep, I get my rest. I have a lot of energy, I don't get tired," said the 36-year-old, who revealed during his post-game press conference that he likes to watch shows and drink a glass of wine to relax.

"My mindset never gets to the point where it's a long road trip and I'm exhausted and tired, I don't even think about that. When we have our games, I'm ready to go.

"When we're not playing, I have an opportunity to rest, get my body back right and my mind refreshed. I don't get tired."

Kyle Kuzma also had 22 points for the Lakers, while Blake Griffin led the way for Detroit with 23.

These are uncertain times for the NBA as it continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 protocols have left rosters lighter in number and, with contract tracing having a major impact, it is far from surprising to see games being postponed.

The absences have offered some players greater opportunities to impress in the embryonic stages of a shortened season that will require adaptability from all involved.

After an eventful week, Stats Perform assesses those performers who have stood out - for good and bad reasons - in games from January 4-10.

 

RUNNING HOT...

Bradley Beal 

It has been a tough start for the Wizards, who are stuck in the basement of the Eastern Conference. Beal, however, has excelled amid the defeats. He is averaging 35 points per game for the season but has been particularly spectacular in recent outings, including dropping 60 against the Philadelphia 76ers. While it set a new career best for points - and tied a franchise record too - Beal made clear he is not interested in personal milestones: "I just want to win. Sometimes you might be able to score 40, 50, 60, whatever the case may be, but I just want to win".

Tyrese Maxey 

The 21st pick in the 2020 draft had scored a combined tally of 52 points through his first nine NBA appearances. Then, amid injuries, positive COVID tests and coronavirus-enforced isolations, Maxey was thrust into a leading role as one of just seven players available against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. His response to the situation was to score 39 points in just under 44 minutes of action, having taken 33 shots but no free throw attempts. In doing so, he became the first 76ers rookie with at least 35 points in a game since franchise legend Allen Iverson in 1997. 

Jimmy Butler 

Butler has begun to heat up after a cold start to the new campaign for Miami. The five-time All-Star had been hampered by injury issues but has looked back to somewhere near his best of late, managing 18, 26 and 26 points in his past three games. Surprisingly, though, Butler is still yet to manage a successful three-point attempt, missing on his seven shots from deep so far. It is a different story from the free-throw line, though, going 28 of 29 from the charity stripe.

LaMelo Ball 

The rise and rise of the youngest Ball brother continues. The point guard became the youngest player in NBA history to score a triple-double as Charlotte Hornets beat the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. At 19 years and 140 days old, Ball had 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He had narrowly missed out on achieving the feat in his team's previous outing, against a New Orleans Pelicans team that included older sibling Lonzo. His rebounding average has gone from 4.33 a game to 9.25 across the past week. 

GOING COLD...

James Harden  

The NBA's scoring champion for the previous three seasons, Harden is still averaging 26 points per game despite continued doubts over his long-term future in Houston. However, it has not been a particularly productive week for the guard, who has not reached double digits in terms of field goals made in four straight outings. There were 15-point displays against both the Pacers and the Magic, then 20 points in a defeat to the Lakers. Across that stretch, Harden was six for 22 from three-point range. Astonishingly, he did not attempt a solitary free throw against Orlando. 

Trae Young 

To say Young has gone cold from deep recently is an understatement. The Atlanta Hawk landed five of six attempts in the season-opener against the Bulls, but since then has managed just nine successful long-range shots, including going a combined one for 14 in his most recent three appearances. Understandably, then, his average for points per game has dipped from 28.17 on January 3 to 17.67 for the past week.

Russell Westbrook 

A quadriceps injury will keep Westbrook sidelined for at least a week. His early form with the Wizards has been steady, including reaching double digits for points in all of his seven games for the franchise. Where there has been a dip for the former NBA MVP is in rebounding. He was up at 11.20 per game for the season by January 3, but he has averaged 6.00 for the past week following reduced contributions in defeats to the 76ers and the Celtics.

Blake Griffin  

Griffin hit with eight of 16 three-point shots for Detroit against the Cavaliers on December 26, but his output from long range since suggests that number could prove to be a post-Christmas outlier when compared to the rest of the season. In the past week, the 31-year-old has landed two from deep out of 18 tries for the struggling Pistons. His overall field goal percentage is down on his career mark too (37.6 per cent from 49.7 per cent), explaining why he is averaging 13.9 points per game. 

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