Pistons Lead

The Pistons Need a New Direction

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To say this season is failing to meet expectations would be a huge understatement for the Detroit Pistons.  To date, the projected starting five for the team has yet to play one game together.  With the announcement of Blake Griffin’s knee surgery, it is unlikely that will change this year.  Andre Drummond is available on the trade market, and if he moves, any of the other veterans on the roster could follow.

 

While we have previously laid out the reasons not to blow it up, the Pistons seem intent on trading players before the deadline.  Drummond is the biggest trade chip on the roster, but he is far from the only one.  Some media types outside of Detroit have speculated on Derrick Rose’s availability, given his success this season. As the only healthy point guard on the roster, however, it’s unlikely he leaves Detroit this season.  Let’s start with Drummond and go from there.

 

The Most Reported

The Drummond speculation really picked up steam once Woj dropped the bomb that Detroit was engaged in trade talks for the big man. Atlanta was the early front runner for the former All-Star’s services.  The most likely return would be the expiring contract of Chandler Parsons, sweetened by the lottery-protected, first-round pick owed to the Hawks by the Nets.

If this leaves fans wanting, they’re going to be disappointed; it only gets worse from here.  Reports are that most teams will not give up valuable assets because they see Drummond as a rental without commitment beyond the end of the season. That would make attaching any prospects to the trade silly, so they won’t do it.  Pistons fans hoping to bring back John Collins, De’Andre Hunter or Cam Reddish will have to accept a mid-teens pick in the upcoming draft instead.  While this is better than losing Drummond for nothing this summer, it’s not by much.

The Contenders

Atlanta is not the only team in the running for Drummond’s services.  Boston, Toronto and Dallas are currently looking to bolster their title odds, and adding Drummond could be what tips the scale.  Unfortunately, the trade fit with the Celtics is nigh impossible.  The money does not work without Gordon Hayward included.  Hayward fits their team much better than Drummond would and does not represent the type of return Detroit is pursuing.

Dallas cannot send back any picks given the outstanding assets owed to the Knicks.  A package built around Tim Hardaway, Jr. (a former Michigan star) and young center Dwight Powell could be sweetened with a younger player or second round-pick.  This would bolster the front lines around Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, the latter of which struggles to stay healthy and could benefit from a permanent switch to power forward.

The Raptors present the most heartwarming fit if you care about Drummond the person.  He would fit perfectly and would have a legitimate chance to show what he could do on a winning team.  Marc Gasol’s expiring contract provides the perfect matching salary and adding one of the plethora of young players at the back of the roster could appease the Detroit front office looking to take a swing on another young player– especially one who may have played under head coach Dwane Casey prior to his arrival in Detroit.

The Wild Card

If nothing else, the New York Knicks know how to keep things interesting.  Following reports that they have placed themselves into the Andre Drummond sweepstakes, fans were left with more questions than answers.  Why look to Drummond when they have so many bigs already, including promising second-year player Mitchell Robinson?  Do they think they are closer to competing than they actually are?

Gauging the Pistons’ interest in working with the Knicks comes down to how they feel about available young players like Dennis Smith Jr. or Frank Ntilikina.  Both guards have shown flashes and are worth a swing for a rebuilding team.  Ntilikina has connections to Doumbouya, as they played on the French National Team together. He’s also proven himself to be a strong defender on occasion, but there’s yet to be solid consistency.

Smith seems to be an untapped offensive weapon, so seeing him work with Coach Casey could be a lot of fun.  The Pistons would have to bring back one of the many power forwards on the Knicks to make the money work.  This would most likely be Bobby Portis.  However, if the Pistons could bring back Julius Randle instead, that could prove to be a big move for a team looking to add explosive young talent.

What This Means for Everyone Else

Blake Griffin is off the table, especially with his surgery.  Derrick Rose will also likely stay put to bridge the gap to the next young point guard.  Reggie Jackson, the most trade-mocked Piston of the last decade, is unlikely to be considered with the health issues he has had this season.  Luke Kennard was connected to Philadelphia, but the front office is unlikely to move any of the younger impact players.  Given that most of the young core is likely off the table, there are still a few names to consider.

Langston Galloway should be in a similar position that Reggie Bullock in was last year.  He is a sharpshooter that a team like Philadelphia should look to add.  The Sixers are pushing for a title this year and lack perimeter shooting.  Galloway provides that in spades and has shown grit this season that Philadelphia fans would fall in love with.  Markieff Morris has shown for years that contenders like adding him to their bench for depth when he’s healthy.  Tony Snell comes with the expense of a player option next season for $12 million.  However, shooting and versatility on defense may prove worth the price for the right team.

As the Market Churns

Everything about this trade market has remained fluid, so it is impossible to project exactly what will happen.  Just in the last week Detroit has been connected to Atlanta, New York, Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia and more.  None of the possibilities seem imminent, but the fact that rumors continue to circulate can only improve the market.  The coming month will help to set the direction for the future of the Detroit Pistons.  These will be the first steps to build around young sensation Sekou Doumbouya alongside Bruce Brown and Luke Kennard.  Ed Stefanski has his work cut out for him.

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