Dan Feldman

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Rumor: Clippers called Thunder about Blake Griffin-Paul George trade


The Clippers reportedly offered Blake Griffin to the Timberwolves for Karl-Anthony Towns. That seemed like nothing more than a shot in the dark, but now that L.A. actually traded Griffin to the Pistons, it’s obvious the Clippers serious about exploring the market.

That apparently included asking the Thunder about swapping the Oklahoma native for Paul George.

Royce Young of ESPN:

They made calls to Oklahoma City for Paul George. I’m pretty sure that they made calls to Minnesota for players. So, they tried to get some bigger-name players. That just wasn’t happening.

This doesn’t mean the Clippers offered Griffin for George. In fact, that trade wouldn’t work straight up under salary-cap rules. The additional aspects could have swung a proposal – if discussions even got that far – in either’s teams favor.

Still, it’s interesting the Thunder didn’t trade for Griffin.

George is younger, and his 3-point shooting and defense make him an easy fit on any team, especially one with Russell Westbrook.

But George can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, and though it sounds increasingly likely he’ll stay, he could leave Oklahoma City empty-handed. Griffin is locked up for the next three years then has a player option he’ll probably exercise – because he’s so expensive, another complication.

If George re-signs, the Thunder likely come out ahead. If not, they might revisit this trade discussion with regret.

The Clippers had to settle for a more balanced package (Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a first-round pick and a second-round pick). None of those pieces have the singular ability of Paul, who’s from Southern California and might have been more likely to re-sign with the Clippers. Still, the Clippers found solid return for Griffin from Detroit.

Bulls sitting Nikola Mirotic, Grizzlies sitting Tyreke Evans in advance of trade deadline

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The Bulls nearly traded Nikola Mirotic to the Pelicans. The Grizzlies’ Tyreke Evans is also hot on the trade block.

That’s why neither will likely play again for his current team before the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The primary reason to sit a player in this situation is avoiding injury. The Bulls and Grizzlies don’t want their player’s trade value getting undercut now.

But there’s also another reason to sit them, and it’s the same reason they’ll likely get traded: Mirotic and Evans are too good. Each player has helped his team win during a season it’d be better served losing and improving draft position. It’s too late for Chicago and Memphis to win meaningfully this season. They should build the future.

That starts with dealing Mirotic and Evans in trades that seem increasingly inevitable.

Blake Griffin: ‘I want to play for an organization that wants me’

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Last summer, the Clippers called Blake GriffinClipper royalty.” They courted him in free agency by raising an actual banner to the rafters, staging his future number-retirement ceremony. They then signed him to a five-year near-max contract. Already eight years in with L.A., he said he wanted to spend his entire career with the Clippers.

The union lasted just a few more months.

The Clippers shocked everyone by trading Griffin to the Pistons this week, a move allowable only because Griffin didn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract.

Actual no-trade clauses (as opposed to automatic veto rights based on being on a one-year contract with Bird Rights coming after it, like Nikola Mirotic has) are rare because the eligibility requirements – eight seasons in the NBA, four with the signing team – are so strict. But Griffin qualified.

Does he regret not securing a no-trade clause?

Griffin at his introductory press conference:

No. I want to play for an organization that wants me to play there, and clearly, this was an organization that wanted me to play here. Being stuck in a no-trade clause, it was something that was brought up, but it wasn’t something that we actually went about, obviously. This is where I want to be. This is a place that wants me, and that’s the type of organization I want to play for. I wouldn’t want to be stuck in a place that it wasn’t working.

Griffin is spinning a little to show positivity toward his new team, which definitely wants him.

A no-trade clause wouldn’t have banned the Clippers from trading him. He could have waived it for any trade, including this one with Detroit. Nothing would have stopped Griffin from deciding he was no longer wanted in L.A. and would be better off with the Pistons, as he now says is the case. Or he could have chosen to stay with the Clippers. It would have been his choice, even if the outcome would have been the same as reality.

But contracts are negotiated, and Griffin got plenty:

  • Near-max starting salary
  • Max annual raises
  • Five years guaranteed
  • Player option
  • Max 15% trade kicker

Securing a no-trade clause would have probably meant giving up something else. There’s no harm in having a no-trade clause, but if Griffin didn’t want to stay with the Clippers if they wanted to trade him, he was better off getting more favorable terms in other facets of the contract.

Utah Jazz to bid for NBA All-Star Game

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz plan to submit a proposal to host the NBA All-Star game in either 2022 or 2023.

The decision comes on the heels of a $125 million renovation to Vivint Smart Home Arena that debuted at the beginning of this season. The 2023 game would be 30 years after the Jazz last hosted the All-Star Game in 1993.

“We feel like we’re in a great position to be able to be awarded that All-Star Game,” Jazz President Steve Starks said. “There’s a story to tell about Salt Lake and the Jazz and what we have to offer that we think will be unique.”

The franchise plans to submit a formal proposal in the next two to three weeks. Don Stirling, the executive vice president of the Jazz ownership group, is leading the project and has been working with NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum. A host committee has already been created that includes community leaders and politicians.

Los Angeles will host the 2018 game in February followed by Charlotte (2019), Chicago (2020) and Indianapolis (2021). There is a two-year bidding process and the Jazz would continue to push for the game beyond 2023 if Salt Lake City is not selected.

Starks believes the growth and development of Salt Lake City will play a major factor in the bid. Salt Lake City International Airport is currently undergoing a $3.6 billion renovation. There are sufficient hotel rooms and a public transportation rail system that continues to expand. The Salt Palace Convention Center, which would host a fan-fest type event, is a block away from the arena.

The city also has experience putting on big events, including the Winter Olympics in 2002.

“Compared to 30 years ago, our infrastructure is completely different,” Starks said. “We knew with the renovation of the arena that would be a catalyst to get back in that conversation again. … We just felt now would be the best time to tell our story.”

The team hopes to leverage a partnership with Sundance Film Festival and possibly create a documentary around All-Star weekend and have a sports-related mini film festival. Starks also hopes to capitalize on a growing technology field in the state to put on a unique experience.

Nightlife and entertainment options are always a concern in Salt Lake City, but the organization believes that won’t be an issue.

Stirling noted that All-Star weekend is when the NBA hosts all of its most important guests, from current and former players to owners, business partners and celebrities.

“One of the things that ranks very high in the judging is proximity and convenience,” Stirling said. “When you land in Salt Lake, you’re downtown in 8-10 minutes. The hotels surround the venues that we’ll be using. When all is said and done, you have this great big world-wide event and proximity and convenience is really important. And we have that.”

On the complications of Pistons’ new Blake Griffin-Andre Drummond pairing

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DETROIT – The Pistons acquired major star power in Blake Griffin.

Now, they’re rolling out the red carpet for him.

“We’re not going to ask him, quite honestly, to adapt to us,” Pistons president/coach Van Gundy said. “He’s going to be our best offensive player. So, I think with those guys, you build around them and what they do.”

That could be a tough adjustment for Detroit’s top incumbent player, Andre Drummond.

More than anything, Griffin’s durability will determine whether he justifies the $141,661,920 remaining over the next four years of his contract and the package the Pistons traded the Clippers (Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a lightly protected first-round pick and a second-round pick). But Griffin’s fit with Drummond looms large.

Drummond has been the Pistons’ best player since his rookie year, when Lawrence Frank stubbornly kept him coming off the bench behind Greg Monroe. Frank, now running the Clippers’ front office, has once again undercut Drummond. By trading Griffin to Detroit, Frank dropped Drummond to second in the pecking order.

Griffin brings massive marketing appeal and a track record of success Drummond hasn’t neared. In his sixth season, Drummond has made the playoffs only once and never won a postseason game. Unless something goes horribly wrong, Griffin will be the best-playing teammate Drummond has had.

“I’m looking forward to building this new empire with him,” Drummond said Tuesday after getting named an All-Star then posting 21 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocks in a win over the Cavaliers – maybe his last game as Detroit’s preeminent player.

The Pistons are confident the Griffin-Drummond partnership will work because both are good passers, a skill that lends itself to unselfishness. Griffin’s 5.4 assists per game rank second among power forwards (behind Draymond Green), and Drummond’s 3.9 assists per game rank fifth among centers (behind DeMarcus Cousins, Al Horford, Nikola Jokic and Marc Gasol).

Griffin and Drummond are good passers, yes. But they don’t specialize in the quick keep-the-ball-moving dishes that would allow them to thrive as passers simultaneously. They each like to hold the ball and survey the defense as teammates cut around them. Griffin adds superior ball-handling ability, which twists defenses even more. That’s why he’s getting lead duty in Detroit. But both look most comfortable as offensive hubs.

Griffin ranks No. 1 and Drummond ranks No. 8 among bigs in average seconds per touch (minimum: five games), per NBA.com:


Pistons backup center Eric Moreland also cracks the leaderboard, but that seem to be less about his unique skills and more about Detroit trying to maintain continuity in its offensive system when Drummond rests. That suggests an opening for the Pistons to stagger Drummond and Griffin, maybe even enough to remove Moreland from the rotation. Drummond could keep his current role while Griffin sits.

But that still leaves plenty of time where Griffin and Drummond share the court.

“We have played through Andre on virtually every possession all year long,” Van Gundy said. “And now we’ll play through Blake a lot. And so Andre will have to adjust a little bit. But I think the adjustment will be relatively easy and painless.”

It sounds as if Drummond will no longer have carte blanche to operate from the high post/elbows, where he could look for teammates cutting to the basket:

Flip the ball to a teammate behind him while effectively serving as screener:

Dish to an open teammate spotting up away from the attention Drummond draws:

Or just drive to the basket himself if everything else is overplayed:

Instead, the ball will go through Griffin – who can do all those things and more. Griffin can also bring the ball up court himself, run pick-and-rolls as the ball-handler, isolate and post up. But where does that leave Drummond other than mucking up spacing? A non-shooter, Drummond isn’t pulling a defender out of the paint off the ball.

That’s why leaving Drummond as the primary big-man playmaker would be the easier adjustment. Griffin has grown into a competent 3-point shooter (34.2% on 5.7 attempts per game). He can spread the floor and cut off the ball as Drummond controls it.

But the Pistons’ didn’t trade for Griffin to keep the ball out of his hands.

Van Gundy drew comfort in Griffin’s fit with DeAndre Jordan in L.A. Drummond has the ability to replicate Jordan’s lob finishing and could become an even more effective offensive rebounder thanks to the attention Griffin draws. Griffin-Drummond pick-and-rolls should be a weapon, just as Griffin-Jordan ones were. In that play and others, Griffin is adept at setting up his high-jumping, non-shooting center.

But Drummond isn’t yet accustomed to playing with Griffin. Even with Jordan, who developed his comfort with Griffin over nine years, it worked far better with Chris Paul orchestrating. Reggie Jackson is not Chris Paul.

Still, Griffin, Drummond and Jackson (once he gets healthy) will learn the intricacies of playing with two more traditional bigs. For the Pistons, two games out of playoff position, it’s probably still more about next season than this season.

There’s another potential long-term snag, though.

“I think I’ve got a little more to my game than DeAndre does offensively,” Drummond said.

In the NBA, there’s a near-constant give-and-take between bigs who want to be heavily involved offensively and their coaches who want them to focus on setting screens, rolling hard and rebounding. Van Gundy went through it with Dwight Howard in Orlando, and Drummond carries similar complications. For years, Detroit practically wasted possessions on Drummond post-ups, seemingly just to have him feel involved.

Using Drummond as a passer from the elbows was a genius adjustment this season. He was no longer sabotaging the offense with low-efficiency shots, and the ball was in his hands more than ever. Drummond clearly worked hard to become a better passer and make good on his new responsibilities.

Now, they’re being reduced for Griffin.

Jordan is exceptional in his contentment with his limited role. Is Drummond cool with the ball going through him less often?

“You’ve got to make adjustments to win basketball games,” Drummond said. “So, if that’s what I’ve got to do to win games, then it is what it is.”

Drummond is saying all the right things. He added he already spoke to Griffin, with whom he shares an agent, Jeff Schwartz.

But Griffin shakes Drummond off his perch, and that leads to major questions.

Is this town big enough for the both of them? Will Drummond subvert his ego and play Robin to Griffin’s Batman? Could Detroit, which has explored trading Drummond before, deal the center for someone who better complements its new star?

For now, the Pistons are just basking in the glow of landing Griffin. But they’re also going from one franchise player to another, keeping both on the roster. That’s never simple.