The Los Angeles Clippers shocked the NBA on Monday when they traded star Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons in a blockbuster deal. The Pistons received 5-time All Star Blake Griffin, Willie Reed and Brice Johnson in exchange for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovich, a first-round draft pick and a second-round draft pick. Griffin had previously signed a five-year, $171 million contract to stay with the Clippers in the offseason.
The trade came while the Pistons were in the midst of an 8-game losing streak, dropping to ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Griffin will be paired with Center Andre Drummond, creating one of the premiere front courts in the NBA. The 24-year old Drummond will be a first-time All Star this season. He is averaging career highs in rebounds, assists and free throw percentage. The addition of Griffin implies the Pistons will be making a playoff push. Meanwhile, the Clippers seem to be entering rocky waters. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the Clippers will be entertaining offers for DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 29, 2018
However, the Clippers may not be tanking for a better draft position. They are currently in 9th place in the West and trail the Nuggets by a half of a game. The Clippers picked up two starters in Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris, who have both had solid seasons in Detroit. There is certainly enough talent to compete for a playoff position, but it is unlikely they can compete for a championship.
So how does this trade pertain to the Bucks? The direct effect of the trade is another All-Star will be joining the Central Division. Griffin has eight wins and two losses in ten career match-ups with the Bucks. He has averaged 21.5 points and 10.7 rebounds in those games (stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com). The Bucks have two wins and one loss against the Pistons this season, with only one matchup remaining in the regular season. Griffin brings a unique mixture of physicality and athleticism. He recently added the three point shot to his arsenal of offensive weapons. Milwaukee will most likely use a heavy mixture of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker on Griffin. The two players match well with Griffin’s strength and physicality, without giving up size or speed.
The Griffin trade also reignites possible trade rumors to bring Clippers center DeAndre Jordan to Milwaukee, if the Clippers choose to rebuild. The Bucks have won four in a row since the firing of Jason Kidd, and a trade may disrupt a team that looks to be catching its stride (See Milwaukee Bucks: New head coach Prunty adjusting quickly). However, Jordan was an All Star in 2017 and has reached All-NBA status twice. He is a force in the middle and a sure upgrade over John Henson. The other wildcard is shooting guard Lou Williams. Williams is having a career season, averaging 23.5 points per game and shooting 39% from three point range. He is a scoring threat who would improve Milwaukee’s lack of bench scoring, which ranks last in the NBA. Here are some potential trade options for the Bucks, calculated using ESPN’s Trade Machine. It is important to note that the trade machine only works out the salary cap issues, leaving out each team’s desire and actual player value.
DeAndre Jordan for John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, and D.J. Wilson
The Bucks would receive their big man in DeAndre Jordan and drop Dellavedova’s contract. The Clippers would receive the formidable Henson, a gritty defender in Dellavedova, and a young first round pick in DJ Wilson. It is likely that the Clippers would ask for more in the form of a draft pick or another young player, such as Malcolm Brogdon.
DeAndre Jordan for John Henson, Jabari Parker, and Malcolm Brogdon
Trading Jabari would relieve the Bucks worries over his future. He’s only 22 years old, but he’s already had two major knee surgeries. The second overall draft pick in 2014 is also entering the 2018 free agency as a restricted free agent. He will likely be receiving high offers that will strain Milwaukee’s salary cap if matched. The Bucks will also forfeit one of the league’s best contracts in Malcolm Brogdon. The Clippers may try to obtain a draft pick in this deal as well.
DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams for John Henson and Khris Middleton
This trade provides the Bucks with their Center and bench scoring, while keeping most of its young core together. However, they will be giving up Khris Middleton. Middleton has been a cornerstone of the Bucks’ rise and has performed at an all star level this season. Trading Middleton would be a drastic move for Milwaukee.
Lou Williams and Jawun Evans for Matthew Dellavedova
Jawun Evans was thrown in the trade to balance the salaries. The Clippers would be likely to ask for a draft pick along with Malcolm Brogdon or DJ Wilson. This trade would relieve the Bucks of Dellavedova’s contract while adding bench scoring.
It’s hard to determine the asking price the Clippers will have for DeAndre Jordan. However, they have made their intentions clear: young players and draft picks. A franchise risks it’s future when trading picks and young players. Jordan also brings his own risks as well. With a player option for 2018, Jordan can opt out of his contract for next season and enter free agency. He also adds a $22 million cap hit to the receiving team’s salary. A trade involving him is risky without any long term commitment. It could result in losing young players and picks along with Jordan leaving in free agency. Yet, this move has the potential to propel the Bucks from just an Eastern Conference contender to one of the favorites to reach the NBA Finals.