Blake Griffin willing to take 'a different role' for rebuilding Pistons

In the midst of a Detroit Pistons rebuild, six-time All-Star Blake Griffin is embracing the process during his rehabilitation and said he is willing to accept "a different role" if necessary.

Griffin, 31, underwent an arthroscopic debridement of his left knee on Jan. 7 and has been training six days per week in anticipation of the NBA's return for the 2020-21 season, likely happening sometime in December.

Amid the league suspension, Detroit made key changes, including the notable hiring of longtime Oklahoma City Thunder executive Troy Weaver as general manager.

Griffin, who grew up in Oklahoma, has known Weaver for many years.

The team also agreed to purchase the Northern Arizona Suns of the G League from the Phoenix Suns, with the rebranded Detroit team expected to play in a new arena currently being constructed on the campus of Wayne State University beginning in the 2021-22 season.

"I look for our team to be competitive. I know from my conversations with Coach [Dwane Casey] and Troy and the front office, they want to put a competitive team on the floor," Griffin told reporters via Zoom on Thursday. "I've told them, I'm here to do whatever they ask of me. Whether that's sort of taking on a different role, taking on more of a role, whatever it might be.

"Whatever they feel the need for me to do," he continued. "We'll have a lot of young guys so I think spending a lot of time with them and really setting the foundation in making sure that all these guys understand what Pistons basketball is about and the type of basketball we're trying to play. So, as the season gets closer, as free agency comes, as the draft comes, I think we'll be able to feel that out more and more, but right now, I'm just here, I'm working and trying to be a leader in any way I can."

Despite Detroit being one of the eight teams eliminated by the NBA's 22-team proposal for its Orlando, Florida, restart after going 20-46, Weaver said he sees Griffin and veteran guard Derrick Rose as part of the franchise's future.

He made that known during his introductory news conference in June.

"Obviously, being in Oklahoma City for the last 12 years, I remember Blake quite well, playing at OU and his family being around there, being from Oklahoma City. So, I'm very familiar with Blake," Weaver said. "I joked with him when I spoke with him that I finally get to work with him. We didn't get the luck of the draw to get the No. 1 pick when he came out like other home teams get the luck of the draw, we didn't get it, so I tease him about that, but I'm excited to work with Blake."

Griffin played in just 18 games this season but says he feels "a world of difference" in his knee. He is due $36.6 million in 2020-21, and holds a player option for 2021-22 that, if exercised, will pay him $38.9 million, but Detroit will still have options to reshape its roster.

"Troy's been great. I've known him for a while. He just has a great mindset and he also has a very, very good eye for talent in the NBA," Griffin said. "I think he likes guys who are hard-nosed players, guys that'll come in and work, earn their spot. Guys that will compete and that's what I'm about. So, we see eye-to-eye on that and I think he has a great vision for where we want this franchise to go. I feel confident with him leading the charge of drafting and everything else, free agency and all that."