| Detroit Free Press
The 2020 NBA draft, scheduled to take place Nov. 18, is exactly a month away. The longest offseason in Detroit Pistons history is finally nearing its end, and the month following the draft could see a ton of movement, with the organization leveraging its lottery pick and cap space to potentially put a competitive team on the floor in 2021.
Detroit has two players who appear likely to bring back assets in a trade — Derrick Rose, and Luke Kennard.
Rose is entering the final season of a two-year, $15 million contract. After averaging 18.1 points and 5.6 assists off of the bench last season, he should be appealing to a number of teams looking to compete for a championship.
Kennard is entering the final season of his rookie deal, and demonstrated last season that he’s good enough to be a starter. He averaged 15.8 points and 4.1 assists and made 39.9% of his 3s in 28 games due to bilateral knee tendinitis, but has been healthy since March. He’ll be eligible for an extension before the season starts, and will hit restricted free agency next offseason if a deal isn’t reached. The Pistons took calls on him leading up to last season’s trade deadline. With a new general manager in charge, it’s fair to wonder if Detroit is willing to pay Kennard when they’re a ways away from contending in the Eastern Conference.
In September, we looked at three draft night trades the Pistons should consider. Here are three more potential draft night trades that could aid the rebuild under GM Troy Weaver.
Pistons receive: Mike Scott, Norvel Pelle, two second-round picks in 2020 (No. 34, 36).
Philadelphia 76ers receive: Derrick Rose.
The Sixers entered last season with title aspirations, and were a popular pick to reach the East finals. They underwhelmed, losing to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, and enter the offseason with one of the worst cap sheets in the NBA. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Al Horford will make a combined $122 million next season, leaving the Sixers in the luxury tax and limited in their avenues to improve.
Among their many needs — a veteran point guard, and additional scoring off the bench. Rose could be their best-case scenario, considering his cheap contract relative to his production. In return, the Pistons would get a reliable veteran forward in Mike Scott who’s on an expiring deal worth $5 million, a young center in Norvel Pelle whose $1.7 million contract is non-guaranteed next season, and two high second-round picks in this year’s draft.
While Scott’s contract could be repackaged and flipped ahead of the 2021 trade deadline, the two picks are the main part of the deal for the Pistons. Getting two seconds for one of the best bench guards in the league may feel underwhelming, but it could give Detroit an opportunity to follow their own playbook and move up in the draft.
On draft night last year, the Pistons traded the 30th pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for four second-round picks and $5 million in cash. Detroit could pursue a similar deal with the Boston Celtics, who own the 30th pick in this year’s draft. That pick is the lowest of three first-rounders for Boston — more than they can realistically use considering their roster crunch. The Pistons could offer the Celtics a package of second-rounders, including the two from the Sixers, along with cash for the pick.
Pistons receive: Nickeil Alexander-Walker and three second-round picks in 2020 (No. 39, 42, 60).
New Orleans Pelicans receive: Luke Kennard.
As one of the best-positioned young teams in the NBA from both a cap and asset standpoint, the Pelicans don’t need to make any trades this offseason. Retaining Brandon Ingram appears to be their biggest priority, and they have a lottery pick (13th) to fortify their depth.
They could benefit from improving their wing depth, however. And with nine first-round picks in the next seven years (thanks to their trade of Anthony Davis to the Lakers), including a few second-rounders for a young player like Kennard makes sense.
If the Pistons’ new front office has reservations about handing him a long-term deal, this trade works for both sides. Kennard is an upgrade over Alexander-Walker, the 17th pick of the 2019 NBA draft. Alexander-Walker appeared in 47 games last season and averaged 5.7 points on 36.8% shooting in about 13 minutes per game.
But he was seen as a potential lottery pick last year, following a two-year career at Virginia Tech that saw him average 16.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and four assists as a sophomore. He also shot an average of 38.3% from 3 during both seasons. Even though his rookie season in the NBA underwhelmed, he’s 6-foot-6 with a 6-10 wingspan with the tools to become a good combo guard.
After acquiring three second-round picks, the Pistons could try packaging them to move up — similar to the Celtics trade pitched after the Sixers deal. The Pistons could also attempt to poach one of the Pelicans’ future firsts instead. The Lakers owe New Orleans a No. 8-30 protected first in 2021 that becomes unprotected in 2022. Since the Lakers will almost certainly not be a lottery team next season or the season after, barring any unexpected injuries, New Orleans could offer Detroit the pick knowing it’ll likely be a late first in 2022. But getting one of New Orleans’ 2019 first-round picks and a future first could be a tough ask.
Pistons receive: Delon Wright, Justin Jackson, 2020 first-round pick (No. 18).
Dallas Mavericks receive: Luke Kennard.
Similar to the Pelicans, the Mavs don’t necessarily need to make a trade this offseason. Their offense, led by rising superstar Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, scored 116.7 points per 100 possessions last season, the best mark in NBA history. Depending on their priorities, keeping their trade chips could be the smartest plan.
Yet, they’re ahead of schedule in their rebuild timeline. They were one of the NBA’s bigger surprises last year, qualifying for a seventh seed in a deep, competitive Western Conference playoff race. By trading for Kennard, they would add another shooter and secondary ball-handler that could become a long-term piece. With Tim Hardaway Jr. potentially entering unrestricted free agency next summer — assuming he picks up his $19 million player option for 2021 — Kennard fills a present and future need.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo, the Mavs have made the 18th pick of the draft available in search of immediate help. Acquiring an additional first-round pick would help jumpstart Detroit’s rebuild. The Pistons could also look to acquire Jalen Brunson, who was the 33rd pick of the 2018 draft. Brunson has established himself as an up-and-coming backup point guard and averaged 18 minutes a game last season.
Wright is a big, veteran point guard who would fill a need. Jackson, the 15th pick in 2017 , has yet to establish himself in the league. But it wouldn’t hurt the Pistons to take a flyer on him. Dallas also has the 31st pick of the 2020 draft, which could produce a good player considering the lack of separation in talent after the middle of the first round. If Dallas is unwilling to part with the 18th pick for Kennard, there are other options it could offer to get a deal done.
Contact Omari Sankofa II at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.