The NBA world was rocked by the surprising news that the Los Angeles Clippers had traded Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons on Monday. The trade had reportedly been discussed for six days prior to the agreement, meaning that Griffin’s availability was no secret in the NBA.
The Los Angeles Lakers, who were briefly linked to Griffin this summer during his free agency period, could have been in the market for the big man, given their desire to add two star free agents this summer. Acquiring one via trade could theoretically help the Lakers in their quest to clear cap space for the other.
However, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Lakers never showed any interest in making that happen with Griffin:
The Lakers loom as a possible exception, only because they have clear and immediate free agency ambitions. We all know they need cap space to sign two max-level free agents, and Griffin would obviously cannibalize that. But there has long been another avenue: Get one star in the door now, and use him as bait for the second.
The Lakers even have Brook Lopez’s $22 million expiring contract to help match salaries. But they don’t appear to have taken a serious look at Griffin, per league sources. Maybe it wouldn’t have been workable; the Lakers already traded their 2018 first-round pick.
There are perhaps several reasons why the Lakers did not seriously consider making a move for Griffin. Their sights may already be set on even bigger names, namely LeBron James and Paul George and trading for Griffin without attaching longterm money (such as Jordan Clarkson or Luol Deng) would make it difficult to create cap space for even one of those players. Furthermore, the Lakers have a duo of high-potential power forwards in Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma who could provide similar combined production to Griffin at a fraction of the cost if Randle is re-signed.
The NBA trade deadline is fast approaching and the Lakers may still be an active team despite sitting out of this potential trade.