Tagged in: blazers

Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin agree to contract buyout

Six-time NBA All-Star Blake Griffin has agreed to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons and will become an unrestricted free agent, the team revealed Friday.

The Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers are expected to be among the teams Griffin will be considering for his next stop, sources tell ESPN.

Griffin, 31, is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams, sources said.

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

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“I’m grateful for everything he did for our team and for our community.”

Finding a trade for Griffin — who was owed a remaining $36.6 million this campaign and $39 million in 2021-22 prior to the buyout — was an insurmountable challenge for the Pistons.

Detroit concluded a reduction in his remaining salary to gain free agency with Griffin’s agent, Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports, since the sides mutually agreed he would leave the active roster on Feb. 15 awaiting a trade or buyout.

“I thank the Pistons organization for working together on an outcome that benefits all involved and I wish the franchise success in the future,” Griffin said in a statement released by the team.

Detroit has entered a full-fledged rebuild under first-year general manager Troy Weaver, and the chance to play the franchise’s younger players has taken precedence for the Pistons.

Injuries have dramatically altered Griffin’s game, eliminating the high-flying rim attacks that marked his All-Star career. He’s averaging 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists for Detroit this season.

Griffin was traded less than a season into a five-year, $171 million max deal with the LA Clippers, arriving in Detroit in late January 2018.

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Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard hits two 3s in 8.9 seconds to bury Chicago Bulls late

Down five points to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night with 8.9 seconds left, the Portland Trail Blazers entered what NBA fans have come to know simply as “Dame Time.”

Damian Lillard hit a 37-foot 3-point shot with less than 10 seconds left to put the Blazers within two points. The Blazers then tied up Bulls star Zach LaVine and won the jump ball — which eventually ended up in Lillard’s hands.

Lillard proceeded to drill a buzzer-beating, step-back 3 over the long arms of Lauri Markkanen to defeat Chicago 123-122.

“This one is special because in these situations where we’re down five, I think, with 11 seconds left, those are the moments where the winning team thinks they’ve got the game pretty much wrapped up,” said Lillard, who scored 14 points in the fourth. “And the opposing team is discouraged.”

Not Lillard. Blazers coach Terry Stotts struggled with words to describe Lillard’s clutch gene after the triumph.

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“It’s innate. It’s God-given,” Stotts said. “He’s born with it, and you can’t teach it.”

Lillard finished with a game-high 44 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds and hit his third career game-winning buzzer-beater, including the playoffs. That is the most in Trail Blazers history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

For Lillard, it was also his 35th career 40-point game, more than double of any other player in franchise history. Clyde Drexler has the next-most with 17.

Lillard’s teammates Enes Kanter and Gary Trent Jr. weren’t surprised by his late-game heroics.

Inside the fanless United Center in Chicago, Kanter was among the first of his teammates to greet him with a hug. Kanter stated he’s “used to that shot” but also recognizes that it’s “unbelievable what he can do.”

Chicago trailed by as many as 19 points on the night before, clawing back to make it a close game in the second half. Markkanen ended with a team-high 31 points with six rebounds, and LaVine contributed 26 points with 7 rebounds and 4 assists.

Portland was playing without Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture), CJ McCollum (midfoot sprain), Derrick Jones Jr. (left foot sprain) and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau data, this is the first time a jump ball and a game-winning buzzer-beater occurred on the same possession inside the final 10 seconds since April 30, 2006. On that date, the Los Angeles Lakers won a jump ball against the Suns, and Kobe Bryant hit the game-winning buzzer-beater.

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