Griffin: Pistons ‘made me realize what a franchise looks like’

Blake Griffin returns to Los Angeles in January.

The Los Angeles Clippers shocked the NBA world on Jan. 29 when they traded star forward Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons, just six months after the franchise re-signed the high-flyer to a five-year, $171 million deal in free agency.

During their July free-agent meeting, the Clippers sold Griffin on the “Clipper for life” theme and a No. 32 jersey retired in the rafters at Staples Center. Griffin didn’t take any meetings with other teams because he wanted to remain in Los Angeles and finish what he started.

Griffin, however, understands that basketball is a business first. The Clippers reportedly decided it was best from a financial standpoint to move Griffin to acquire future salary-cap space and the All-Star says he hasn’t looked back since arriving to Detroit.

“If I wasn’t happy with where I was at or excited to be here, it would take a little bit longer,” Griffin told ESPN’s The Undefeated. “But as soon as I got here to Detroit, the franchise, the way they go about taking care of the players, the way they do everything, is first-class. So, that makes the transition much easier. [Coach] Stan [Van Gundy] and the whole staff has been awesome. I’m not looking back. I haven’t put much thought into it. I’ve been so focused on making this transition. I never want to be in a place where I’m not wanted. Coming here made me realize what a franchise looks like.”

Griffin has now played in 21 games with the Pistons. The former No. 1 overall pick is averaging 20.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists, but the team is just 7-14 and currently six games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The seven-year veteran understands this summer will be vital for Detroit and the future of the club.

“This summer, we will have a chance to really jell and figure stuff out,” Griffin said. “I think the ceiling of this team is very, very high. We have a lot of different guys who can do a lot of different things who can affect the game in a lot of different ways. Getting Reggie [Jackson] back will be huge. But the thing that I really like about Detroit is this city embraces the hardnose, gritty, hardworking teams and hardworking players. Not a lot of cities embrace that type of mentality. That is exciting to me.”