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Blake Griffin has no time for minutes restrictions, trade rumors

Detroit Pistons veteran forward Blake Griffin doesn’t expect to be on a minutes restriction when he returns to NBA action later this month.

“I had lunch with Blake a few weeks ago,” Pistons head coach Dwayne Casey said, via James Edwards III of The Athletic. “He didn’t want to hear about the minute restrictions. He’s full-go. … We’re a different team with him.”

The 31-year old underwent knee surgery on Jan. 7 that ended his 2019-20 season. Griffin was noticeably hobbled by the knee injury he suffered at the end of the 2018-19 season. In 18 games in 2019-20, he averaged 15.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in 28.4 minutes per game.

Nearly a year later, the six-time All-Star is hungry to get back on the floor.

“I’ve had a lot of time gather motivation. I’ll say that,” Griffin said. “I’m very excited. It’s been a long year of chatter.”

Before the knee injury — a repeated issue over the course of Griffin’s career — the former no. 1 overall pick put together a surprisingly productive season for Detroit in 2018-19, averaging a career-best 24.5 PPG in 75 games and leading the Pistons to the playoffs.

Griffin’s role in Detroit this season will be rendered moot if the team finds a trade partner for him. Recently-hired Pistons GM Troy Weaver has acquired multiple big-men this offseason, including overpaying two ex-Denver Nuggets — Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee — rather than re-signing Christian Wood. Detroit also drafted Isaiah Stewart in the first round of the draft, signed Jahlil Okafor, and traded for center Dewayne Dedmon.

Griffin has been a fixture in trade speculation since his days with the Los Angeles Clippers. At this point in his career, the veteran says he isn’t bothered him by the rumor mill.

“Trade talk doesn’t really bother me. I’ve been doing this for too long. I have a great relationship with the front office. When it came to trades, I didn’t spend a lot of time paying attention to.”

Because Griffin is owed $36 million and has a $38 million player-option for 2021-22, only a handful of teams can match his contract in a trade (say, like the Washington Wizards).