“Shocked is a good way to put it,” Griffin said during his introductory news conference at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
He is expected to make his debut on Thursday when the Memphis Grizzlies visit Detroit.
Now that Griffin has come to grips with his new basketball reality, he is excited to get the chance to help lay a foundation for his new team. But after signing a max extension with the Clippers over the summer, he acknowledges that it was tough to find out that he was moving on from the only professional organization he ever has known.
“Basketball is a business, the NBA is a business, and they made a decision,” Griffin told ESPN. “The only thing I just wish I had known or had the opportunity to talk to somebody beforehand. Finding out through Twitter, through other people is a tough way to find out when you’ve been with a franchise for so long. But at the end of the day, basketball is a business, and I want to play where a team wants me. And that’s why I’m excited about being here.”
Griffin says he has no regrets about not having a no-trade clause included in the deal he signed with the Clippers.
“At the time [I signed], it was around the time where Melo was going through his whole thing in New York with the no-trade clause,” Griffin said. “I don’t think it was something that was a real option at the time. Like I said, I want to play for a franchise that wants me to be here, and clearly [the Clippers] didn’t, so this is what’s most exciting to me.”
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy believes Griffin will have no problem fitting in to the Pistons’ locker room.
“First of all, guys like that bring instant respect in,” Van Gundy said after Wednesday’s practice. “So everybody in [the locker room] knows what he’s accomplished and how good a player he is, so there’s instant respect, and just from my little bit talking to him, I think he wants to be a guy that gets to know people and comes and plays his game. I don’t think he’s going to on a vocal level try to take over right away. My only point to him is, I don’t want that trying to fit in thing to be what he does on the court, and I’ve seen that happen to guys. They’re a little reluctant to have the ball in their hands or be too aggressive offensively. Everybody in there knows that’s what he was brought here to do, is to just play his game, that’s why we brought him here.”
Griffin is confident that he will be able to work well with Pistons All-Star big man Andre Drummond. The pair has gotten to know each other over the years during offseason workouts in Los Angeles. They are also both represented by agent Jeff Schwartz. Drummond said after Tuesday’s win over the Cleveland Cavaliers that he was looking forward to building an “empire” with Griffin.
“I think we can be very dominant,” Griffin said. “We have to start working together. I’ve been a fan of Andre’s game for a long, long time. When he first came in, you could see just how talented he was, just raw talent. And then watching the maturation over the course of his career has been awesome. Getting to post moves and being able to finish in different ways. He has way more skill than I think he probably gets credit for. I’m not sure what people think of him over here — I know they love him, but I know he’s a better player than I think people even realize, and they know he’s a good player.”
Like Griffin, Pistons owner Tom Gores admitted that he was surprised the deal got done.
“Honestly, it’s shocking that we even have him right now,” Gores said during a conference call Wednesday.
Gores acknowledged that it was crucial for his team to be able to add a player of Griffin’s caliber to the young Pistons core already in place.
“Look, I think we need the level of a Blake,” Gores said. “You see it around the league. And as much as I think Stan and we do a good job piecing things together players and giving their roles, you’re probably going to need a couple folks like [Griffin], is my opinion. Now we didn’t go searching with that philosophy necessarily but it did come to us in that we just couldn’t not look at a guy like Blake who could really change your franchise … you see it in the league. It’s not even my opinion, in the league, the elite teams have a few Blake’s.”
After all the years in Los Angeles, Griffin is also confident that he will be able to manage Detroit’s climate just fine.
“I have a winter coat,” Griffin said with a laugh. “We travel all the time. I’m from Oklahoma, so we have actual seasons and winters, so this is more like home than L.A., so I’m prepared.”
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