With big deal, Grif­fin not a likely trade chip

The Detroit News - - Sports - BY ROD BEARD The Detroit News

For most of the sum­mer, the Pis­tons play­ers have been scat­tered around the coun­try, get­ting in their last va­ca­tion time be­fore the pre­sea­son be­gins in a cou­ple weeks. The Pis­tons will get started with their me­dia day Sept. 24 and have train­ing camp that week in Ann Arbor be­fore start­ing the slate of five pre­sea­son games, be­gin­ning Oct. 3.

The sea­son sure snuck up quickly, but the Pis­tons should have one of the more in­trigu­ing out­looks of the teams in the East­ern Con­fer­ence.

This week’s Pis­tons mail­bag takes a look at some of the press­ing ques­tions, in­clud­ing Blake Grif­fin’s im­pact, coach Dwane Casey’s style and Stan­ley John­son’s fu­ture.

Ques­tion. How soon does Blake (Grif­fin) get traded for a mid­dling player and pro­tected 1st rounder? — @Zachmo7022

An­swer. It’s way too soon to start draw­ing con­clu­sions about Blake Grif­fin. He played 25 games with the Pis­tons last sea­son and had some de­cent num­bers, in­clud­ing shoot­ing 35 per­cent on 3point­ers. There’s not enough of a sam­ple size to make a fair de­ter­mi­na­tion on his value.

There have been flashes of his ver­sa­til­ity, but not the ex­plo­sive­ness that be­came a hall­mark of his early ca­reer.

That said, I don’t get the in­di­ca­tion that Pis­tons owner Tom Gores is go­ing to part with Grif­fin easily. I just don’t see it be­ing in the cards. If any­one is traded, it likely wouldn’t be Grif­fin first — mainly be­cause of the size of his con­tract. Even if an­other team were will­ing to take on that deal, they might not be so quick to give up a mid­dling player and a firstround pick.

Q. What is your opin­ion on hav­ing @blakegrif­fin23 for a full sea­son? — @Cap­sSlick

A. I’m a bit op­ti­mistic about what Grif­fin can bring, with a full sum­mer of health and an off­sea­son to work on chem­istry with An­dre Drum­mond, Reg­gie Jack­son and oth­ers in the lineup. The in­jury sto­ry­line has been beaten into the ground, but if it’s a healthy full sea­son, Grif­fin can pay sig­nif­i­cant div­i­dends.

The big­ger story will be a full sea­son of health for Reg­gie Jack­son, but that’s a dif­fer­ent case.

Q. In Toronto Casey played the young play­ers, rook­ies in some cases — I gotta be­lieve he does the same in Detroit, in­clud­ing the 2nd rounders from the 2018 draft. Is that fair? — @Agridome

A. I’m in­clined to agree with you on that. The Pis­tons have a lot of depth and can play sev­eral dif­fer­ent types of line­ups, based on the tal­ent they have. The caveat al­ways is whether the key play­ers are healthy. I can see go­ing to a ro­ta­tion of 10 play­ers maybe, with some cameo ap­pear­ances by the rook­ies, but it’s go­ing to be hard for Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown to break in and get sig­nif­i­cant play­ing time with­out other in­juries creep­ing into the pic­ture.

The Pis­tons have a lot of bod­ies they can put in dif­fer­ent po­si­tions and al­though Thomas and Brown didn’t light up Sum­mer League, they showed that they could have some value.

Q. If Stan­ley (John­son) has a good year. Can the Pis­tons sign him? Enough cap space? — @Dan­the­man­car­nah

A. This is a tough one. It’s all depen­dent on Stan­ley John­son hav­ing a break­out type of sea­son and the Pis­tons wanted to move for­ward with him. It looks like the Glenn Robin­son III ac­qui­si­tion is pro­tec­tion against John­son maybe get­ting a sig­nif­i­cant of­fer sheet as a re­stricted free agent and the Pis­tons not be­ing able to match it.

I’d say there’s a good chance of that, but with the Pis­tons’ dire fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion, they may be painted into a cor­ner with try­ing to find an­other big salary slot for John­son, if it comes to that. They could al­ways make a trade to free up some space, but that’s the way this ros­ter is con­structed: they are what they are and they have what they have un­less some­thing gives in a trade.

Q. Do you think Stan­ley is in like to start at the 3? — @DW33zyy

A. Pic­ture it: LeBron James or Jimmy But­ler is fac­ing the Pis­tons. Who would you rather have guard­ing ei­ther of them to start the game? Prob­a­bly Stan­ley John­son over Glenn Robin­son III. If all other things are equal, Robin­son could have an edge on the of­fen­sive end, but I could see him fit­ting in much bet­ter with the sec­ond group, with Ish Smith pow­er­ing a run­ning squad.

It’s not that Stan­ley John­son wouldn’t fit there as well, but his de­fense is a bet­ter as­set in the start­ing group and he doesn’t have to score as much there.

Gre­gory Shamus/Getty Im­ages

Given the large amounts of money owed to Blake Grif­fin, left, the Pis­tons aren’t likely to break up their Big Two of Grif­fin and An­dre Drum­mond.

Clarence Tabb Jr. /Detroit News

A big year could price Stan­ley John­son out of the Pis­tons’ com­fort zone for a long con­tact.

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