Omari Sankofa II | Detroit Free Press
Trade season officially kicked off (again) for the Detroit Pistons last weekend, when they traded Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks. Less than a year into general manager Troy Weaver’s tenure, it’s become overwhelmingly clear that he isn’t afraid to make a deal when the opportunity presents itself.
And there’s reason to believe more will come before the March 25 trade deadline. Outside of a handful of contracts, the roster skews young and cheap. The Pistons could opportunistically look to add more assets to help the rebuild. Weaver said in January that he intends to stay aggressive.
“You have to have a game plan, you have to be thoughtful, you have to put in the work,” Weaver said. “And if you do those things, it allows you to be aggressive. Sometimes those things may yield a lot of transactions … but you have to have the mindset of being aggressive and trying to improve the team. Sticking with your plan and making your plan work.”
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Here’s a look at Detroit’s assets ahead of the deadline. Rookies and two-way players are excluded:
Expiring veteran with value
Contract: One year, $2.6 million
Buzz: In his second stint in Detroit, the veteran sharpshooter is hitting a career-high 44.5% of his 6.3 3-point attempts per game. It’s tough to see the Pistons receiving a first-round pick for him, considering his age and that he’ll enter unrestricted free agency this summer. But Ellington could help every contending team in the NBA, and the Pistons have incentive to acquire additional second-rounders.
Veteran with trade-friendly contract
Contract: Two years, 10.2 million
Buzz: McGruder’s contract, worth $5.2 million this year and $5 million in 2021-22, is non-guaranteed for next season. It makes him a natural trade candidate, as the Pistons could look to package him in a deal to a team looking to shed salary. He’s provided veteran guidance and leadership in the locker room, but has mostly been out of the rotation.
Recent signings outperforming expectations
Contract: Three years, $60 million
Buzz: Detroit’s decision to shell out big money for the former Denver Nuggets two-way role player was initially met with skepticism. It now looks like a home run, with the forward performing at an All-Star level and emerging as a top contender for the Most Improved Player award. His contract is a steal relative to his production, and the return on the trade market could be big. But it’s tough to see the Pistons parting ways with their No. 1 offseason target. First-round picks are nice, but they’re not guaranteed to produce a player as good as Grant.
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Contract: Two years, $17.5 million
Buzz: The combo guard in the midst of his best stretch this season, averaging 18 points, 7.3 assists, four rebounds, 1.3 steals and shooting 55.6% overall in his last four games — a stretch that includes wins against the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics. Like Grant, he wanted to play for the Pistons this season because of the opportunity he’d receive, and he’s thriving as the starting point guard. Rookie Killian Hayes could return from a hip injury before the trade deadline, and Dennis Smith’s presence on the roster gives the Pistons some flexibility at the point guard position.
Contract: Three years, $25 million
Buzz: Casey said on Tuesday that he’s gotten texts from other coaches around the league praising Plumlee. While he’s occasionally struggled with foul trouble, he’s also given the Pistons stability at center. Plumlee is averaging 13.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and a block since Jan. 25, but he is battling elbow bursitis and plays Detroit’s thinnest position.
Contract: Two years, $9.8 million
Buzz: The fourth-year forward is hitting his stride as a scorer, averaging 17.5 points on 47% overall shooting 38.5% shooting from deep in his last seven games. His contract is inexpensive, and his young age positions him as a potential long-term piece for his hometown team.
Young, sell-high candidates
Dennis Smith Jr.
Contract: One year, $5.7 million
Buzz: The Pistons just acquired the fourth-year former lottery pick, and they intend to give him a chance to revive his career after his fizzled out with the New York Knicks. Smith is in the last year of his rookie deal, and if Detroit isn’t convinced by the deadline that they want to extend him a qualifying offer this offseason, it could be more prudent to move him and receive value rather than lose him for nothing.
Contract: Three years, $10.3 million
Buzz: The second-year forward has been in and out of Dwane Casey’s rotation this season. Doumbouya has shown flashes of being an impactful cutter, transition threat and versatile defender, but he’s still a project. He’s set to enter restricted free agency in 2023, and there’s little haste for the Pistons to rush his development.
Contract: One year, $1.7 million
Buzz: After a breakout sophomore season in which Mykhailiuk drained 40% of his 3-pointers and emerged as a rotation player, the wing has struggled this season. He’s only shooting 31% from 3 more than a third of the way into the season. After averaging 22.6 minutes per game a year ago, he’s only logged more than 20 minutes in four games this season. Mykhailiuk is eligible for restricted free agency this summer. Are the Pistons willing to pay him, or does he have more value as a trade chip? He has more than a month to break his slump before the Pistons have to make a broader decision at the deadline.
Veterans with little value
Contract: Two-years, $75.6 million remaining
Buzz: It hasn’t quite been a comeback season for Griffin, averaging 12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists while shooting 36.5% overall and 31.5% from 3. He has a player option worth $39 million this summer, and it’s unlikely to see him moved this year unless the Pistons are willing to attach assets.
Contract: Two years, $4 million
Buzz: Okafor was conceding minutes in the rotation to rookie Isaiah Stewart before he underwent surgery last week to clean his left meniscus. He won’t return for six to eight weeks, and there’s little incentive for the Pistons to sweeten the pot to move him, or for a team to offer an asset for him.
Contact Omari Sankofa II at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.