The Los Angeles Clippers shook up the N.B.A. on Monday night, just over a week before the league’s annual trade deadline, by swinging a blockbuster deal to send the face of their franchise, Blake Griffin, to the Detroit Pistons.
The Clippers have exceeded expectations so far this season with a record of 25-24 in the wake of Chris Paul’s off-season departure, but team officials decided to begin an aggressive roster shake-up with a major trade.
The deal, which was first reported by ESPN, will send Griffin, Willie Reed and Brice Johnson to the Pistons for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a first- and second-round draft pick, according to two people with knowledge of the trade who were not authorized to speak publicly because it had not yet been announced.
The trade came just seven months after Griffin signed a five-year, $171 million contract to stay with the Clippers.
The team referred to Griffin as “a lifelong Clipper” in the free-agent recruiting pitch it made to him last summer, but the club abruptly changed course when it had the opportunity to acquire two starting-caliber players from the Pistons in Harris and Bradley as well as Detroit’s first-round pick in June’s draft.
With eight seasons of service time and four seasons with the same team, Griffin met the N.B.A.’s requirements for a no-trade clause in his contract. But the Clippers were able to keep a no-trade clause out of his new contract because of the high dollar amount and long-term nature of the deal, which naturally appealed to Griffin after a series of injuries that cost him his entire rookie season in 2009-10 and limited him to an average of 67 games over the past seven seasons.