It’s official: Blake Griffin bought out by Detroit, will become free agent

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The expected has become official: Blake Griffin has reached a buyout deal with the Detroit Pistons and will be a free agent when he clears waivers Sunday at 5 p.m. Eastern.

He is expected to sign a deal with the Brooklyn Nets over the All-Star break.

The big question was just how much money Griffin would give up in a buyout. He’s contractually owed the rest of this season and $39 million for next season, a total around $53y owed would he give up to move on. The answer is $13.3 million, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic — a considerable financial gift to the Pistons.

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

“Blake’s NBA resume speaks for itself,” said Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said in the same statement.  “He’s a player I’ve respected for many years from afar and it was great to have the opportunity to coach him here in Detroit.  Contending teams will love to have a guy like him in their program, which is an opportunity he deserves at this point of his career, and we wish him the best.”

Griffin could sign with any contending team after he clears waivers, except for the Bucks and Clippers (due to the hard cap both teams face, they would have to make a trade to clear out the cap space needed, even if he signs for the minimum). Brooklyn can offer more than the minimum, either offering the taxpayer midlevel exception ($5.7 million, prorated for the rest of the season) or a slightly larger disabled-player exception from losing Spencer Dinwiddie likely for the season.

More than money, the Nets can offer a meaningful role off the bench on a title contender. Brooklyn starts Kevin Durant at the four (when he’s healthy), but behind him there are minutes available on a second unit with Jeff Green (Brooklyn’s small-ball five and part of an effective lineup with the starters). Griffin also could get some run next to former Clippers’ teammate DeAndre Jordan.

Griffin isn’t the player he was in the Lob City days, he turns 32 this month and father time is winning the race. Griffin is not the same athlete. Griffin struggled with his jumper in Detroit this season — 31.5% on threes and less than 20% from 10 feet out to the arc — but with the Nets firepower, he will get more open looks. If Griffin can knock those shots down and keep the ball moving on offense, he would provide meaningful depth.

We’re going to find out how much Griffin can help after the All-Star break.