Most of the NBA world was caught by surprise when the Detroit Pistons acquired Clippers forward Blake Griffin on Monday.
Griffin just signed a five-year, $173-million deal to stay with the Clippers last summer. In return, the Pistons gave up their top two scorers in Tobias Harris and free-agent-to-be Avery Bradley, along with first- and second-round draft picks.
Detroit has lost eight in a row, its second extended slump this season.
“Yeah, obviously a great player, all-star caliber guy that is very versatile guy that can play multiple positions,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said of Griffin. “He’s shooting the heck out of the ball this year. He’s really added that 3-point element to his game. So yeah, really good pickup for Detroit, but I thought it was good for the Clippers as well.”
The Bulls still have three games left with the Pistons. By adding Griffin, Detroit now has an expensive, but formidable, front line with center Andre Drummond.
Griffin is averaging 22.6 points this season, but has missed at least 15 games in each of the past four seasons. He’s also a guy whose best talent was elite athleticism, which doesn’t last forever. Griffin will turn 29 next month.
“They’re going to be a dynamic duo in the Eastern Conference,” Denzel Valentine said, “kind of like the New Orleans deal with Boogie (Cousins and Anthony Davis). We’ll see, I guess. I’m anxious to see how it’ll work.”
Valentine grew up in Lansing, Mich., but said he was not a Pistons fan.
“I wanted to be different.,” he said. “All my friends at school were Pistons fan. I was a LeBron (James) fan. I liked the Cavs.”
Slump gets road test:
With their losing streak at four in a row, the Bulls will head out West for three games, beginning Wednesday in Portland. The other two contests are against the Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento.
“I think it’s good for us,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I think any time you needed to find yourselves, you go out on the road, ‘We’re all we’ve got,’ it’s 15 guys in the locker room and that’s got to be what we have. It’s us against the world on the road and we have to find a way to go out and find that confidence.
“That’s the biggest thing with our team right now. When we were playing well, we had the confidence, we had the swagger to play with anybody and right now we don’t have it. So hopefully we’ll rediscover that on the road.”
Summer league expands:
The NBA announced Tuesday all 30 teams would compete in the Las Vegas summer league this year. The event will run from July 6-17 at both UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion, and include 82 total games. The Orlando Summer League will no longer be held.
Each team will play three scheduled games, then advance to a double-elimination tournament. The Bulls won the Las Vegas summer championship in 2016.