As the NBA trade deadline approaches, the first blockbuster deal of the season was made Monday evening – when the Los Angeles Clippers sent All-Star forward Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons for a package including a pair of draft picks, guard Avery Bradley, forward Tobias Harris and center Boban Marjanovic.
Heading to Detroit with Griffin, however, are center Willie Reed and forward Brice Johnson – the latter a former First Team All-American during his senior year at UNC following the 2015-16 campaign.
Johnson was selected in the first round (25th overall) in the 2016 NBA Draft, but has played in just 12 games to this point in his career.
This move to Detroit to play for head coach Stan Van Gundy could ultimately prove as a turning point for Johnson’s NBA future if he’s able to earn playing time alongside Griffin and dynamic center Andre Drummond.
He also joins a former UNC teammate in the Motor City, as wing Reggie Bullock is currently averaging a career-high 8.2 points per game for the Pistons.
Detroit currently boasts a 22-26 record, which has the team in ninth place in the Eastern Conference–just one spot away from playoff contention.
The Pistons’ next game is scheduled for Tuesday night against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, but it’s still unclear whether Griffin, Johnson and Reed will be available right away.
I wanted to give a big thank you to #Clippernation, my teammates and everyone @LAClippers organization for welcoming me to this league! I appreciate all the love but every page has to turn. I couldn’t be more excited about this next chapter! ✌🏽LA. pic.twitter.com/y7ADG7JECV
— Brice Johnson (@bjohnson_23) January 30, 2018
UPDATE: With Brice Johnson officially unveiled as a member of the Detroit Pistons, we got our first look at him and his new teammates in a Detroit uniform.
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) January 31, 2018
Photo via Associated Press