The Los Angeles Clippers shocked the NBA world back in January by sending All-Star forward Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons in a blockbuster trade. This came mere months after Los Angeles had handed Griffin the largest contract in franchise history.

The change of philosophy from the team’s front office led many to believe the Clippers were intent on going with a full-scale rebuild. But once the trade deadline passed without Lou Williams or DeAndre Jordan being moved, it became apparent that the Griffin trade didn’t necessarily change the core philosophy. Instead, it was a standalone move to rid the Clippers of a pricey and injury-plagued star.

Speaking out about the trade for the first time, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer didn’t necessarily hold back. In fact, he was pretty open about what he believes led to the trade.

“(Griffin is obviously a superstar player. But if you look at what happened injury-wise, if you look at the kind of chemistry we were getting on our team, the thing you can see at the high level with the numbers when I started — one guy got all the assists, one guy got all the points and one guy got all the rebounds,” Ballmer told ESPN. “It’s not all quite that way, but I think in the modern NBA, we were seeing it more and more — there’s a greater distribution of responsibility.”

Griffin’s injury history is by now well known. He missed a total of 108 games in the three seasons prior to the 2017-18 campaign and was sidelined earlier this year to another injury. It’s Ballmer’s reference to chemistry issues that should be considered alarming.

Had some type of rift grown between Griffin and other members of the Clippers following the trade of Chris Paul to Houston this past summer? Did new members of the team not fit in with Griffin? Ballmer wouldn’t get into further details, but obviously something was happening behind the scenes prior to Griffin being dealt to the Pistons.

Vincent Frank
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