Okay folks, this is where it gets complicated. In Part 1 we examined what this trade may look like for the players now we will take a look at what impact the teams in the current and in the near future. As with most trades that involve so much player movement the impact isn’t as obvious as it seems.
So after a few days (and an opportunity to see one of the new look teams) I think I’m ready to unwrap this from the organizations’ perspective. I get that it’s not as hot takey as some may prefer but I’m glad I put some thought into this one.
Winner: Los Angeles Clippers
Yes, I get it. The Clippers just dealt their franchise player and that’s definitely not a great look right now as I expressed in the previous installment. However, what they have done here is what all teams who share their precarious predicament want to do, maintain maximum flexibility in plotting their next steps.
Let me explain, by nabbing Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley’s expiring deals the Clippers will have possibly around $27 million to play with this off-season if they choose to denounce both. This can go a long way in working towards luring a top free agent (Paul George?, Lebron?) or use some of it to re-sign Lou Williams (which I seriously doubt). But either way the combination of getting off of Blake’s monster contract (definitely more on that later) and having contracts that can fall off of their books in a few months is a definite win.
We’re used to seeing teams play the long game in trades. Honestly most of the trades done around the deadline have minimal immediate impact. But what the Clippers were able to do here is maintain somewhat competitive in the interim while the decide what to do with Lou Williams and Deandre Jordan both who are on the trade block. The addition of Harris will help ease some of the loss of ills created by the departure of Blake and having Gallo come back should help transition him into his new role. And Bradley will provide some stability to a backcourt that has had a revolving door of guards see time (although it has worked out quite well for them thus far).
Sitting at 25-25 and one game behind the Denver Nuggets for the 8 spot the Clips can very well make a run for the postseason as they essentially rebuild on the fly. They won’t play again until tomorrow when they have a matinee date with the Chicago Bulls but I think this team will continue to fight until the have a clear indication of the direction of the organization. Part of me wants to see them fight it out because they have been so fun to watch and we are witnessing Doc’s finest coaching job since he’s arrived in Hollywood. But the Jerry “The Logo” West may have other plans and given his track record I can’t be mad at that.
Loser: Detroit Pistons
This one was a bit harder to call. Simply because you never know what set of events a trade like this can set off. Also, this would be a great time for me to disclose my unwavering love for head coach and President of Basketball Operations Stan Van Gundy. But on it’s face, this looks like a pretty bad deal for the Pistons in the VERY near future. Plain and simple, this was the move of a man desperate to save his job.
On the court the thought of a Griffin – Drummond front is a pretty tantalizing one. And as a team that is fighting for a spot in the postseason (also sitting 1 game behind the final spot at 24-26) an addition like Blake can go a long way in making this happen. But there are still issues with the backcourt (which is more apparent with the loss of Bradley) so even with Blake making an immediate impact their playoff aspirations are far from a lock.
Even if the Pistons can keep playing come late April the summers will look pretty grim in terms of flexibility and spending by obtaining Blake they picked up a guy on year one of a 5 year contract worth $173 million. Now if Detroit was a team that wasn’t spending money elsewhere this wouldn’t be too terrible. But this is far from the case. His new frontcourt mate Andre Drummond is due little over $100 million over the next four years and while not as pricey it can definitely be argued that Reggie Jackson’s $51 million over the next 3 years is less than appealing given his body of work since signing the deal.
And while they did get off of some pretty hefty expiring contracts they failed to make the Clips buyer for the deal they wished to get off of the most in Jon Leuer. With Blake, Drummond and Jackson taking up $71 million in space this summer it’s going to be hard to maneuver around to get other notable free agents to the D. And that’s what is going to hurt most about this, both BG and AD deals increase yearly with Blake yielding a $39 million player option the summer of 2021 and Andre’s option coming up the year before for $28.7 million. There are obviously more moves to be made but given their win now mentality time and most definitely finances are not on their side.
Blake had a very impressive debut with the Pistons putting up 24 and 10 in a close win over a depleted Memphis Grizzlies team. And while there was some much expected awkwardness his chemistry with Andre looked okay. Definitely something that will improve in time. Which is good because Detroit seems to be best suited to bask in any successes they have now because it will take one hell of an effort to sustain very soon.