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Veteran forward Blake Griffin is now a free agent after having his contract bought out by the Detroit Pistons. Duane Burleson/Associated Press

DETROIT — Blake Griffin’s time in Detroit is over, another significant step in a rebuilding process that has the Pistons at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

The veteran forward and the Pistons agreed to a contract buyout.

“I thank the Pistons organization for working together on an outcome that benefits all involved and I wish the franchise success in the future,” Griffin said Friday in a statement released by the team.

The Pistons announced last month that they would keep Griffin out of the lineup while resolving his future, a clear sign that the star forward could be on the way out. The Pistons also traded Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks last month.

Griffin, who turns 32 later this month, came to Detroit in a trade during the 2017-18 season. The question now is how valuable he might be to a contending team. He had a terrific 2018-19 season for the Pistons, helping them to the playoffs, but his health has been a concern in Detroit, just as it had been when he was with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Griffin has averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 20 games this season.

“As we stated from the beginning of our discussions with Blake and his representatives, our goal has been to facilitate a resolution for the future that maximizes the interests of both Blake and our team,” Pistons General Manager Troy Weaver said. “We appreciate all of Blake’s efforts on and off the court in Detroit, have great respect for him as a player and a person and we wish him all the best in the future.”

ALL-STAR GAME: Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker won’t play Sunday because of a mild sprain in his left knee, opening up space for Utah’s Mike Conley to make his first All-Star appearance.

HAWKS: Forward De’Andre Hunter has stepped up his rehabilitation from right knee surgery, but it will be another two weeks before the team knows how close he is to returning.

The Hawks announced that Hunter has been cleared to do unrestricted weight room work and progressive on-court drills. His condition will be reviewed again on March 19.

Hunter, who underwent surgery Feb. 8, is among a rash of injuries that have stifled the Hawks’ progress and led to the firing of their head coach, Lloyd Pierce, on Monday.

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