Though the Pistons aren’t in playoff contention this season, they’re still one of the teams to watch during the trade deadline.
It’s not likely that they’ll be involved in a major deal, but general manager Troy Weaver could look to make some smaller trades to help them acquire more assets such as draft picks and younger players. Weaver already got the ball rolling early Thursday morning, sending Delon Wright to the Sacramento Kings for Cory Joseph and two second-round picks.
The Pistons could make another deal involving Wayne Ellington, who is having a good season and is on a one-year, veteran-minimum contract. Ellington, 33, was out for four games because of an adductor injury, but he returned Wednesday night with 16 points, including 4-of-5 on 3-pointers, in a loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Ellington’s performance could make a nice final impression to show a contending team that he is healthy and ready to contribute. With Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline looming, and judging by Weaver’s track record, some type of deal could be in the works.
“I would be lying to you if I said it wasn’t in the back of my mind and I think it’s in a lot of guys’ minds,” Ellington said after Wednesday’s game. “This is my 12th year in the league and I’ve seen a lot and I’ve been traded before. It’s part of the game and part of the NBA business.
“Guys get traded and go to different teams. Once you can cope with that and accept it, you’re able to go out and play the game and let whatever happens happen. You control what you can control — there’s things you can’t control, and that’s one of them.”
Getting any type of assets for Ellington — potentially a second-round pick — would be excellent value for the Pistons, who added Ellington toward the end of free agency to augment the roster with veteran leadership.
Ellington has become a huge contributor, jumping into the rotation as a key starter and posting one of the best statistical seasons, averaging 10.7 points and shooting 43% from beyond the arc. There weren’t high expectations for him when the season started, but he’s exceeded the bar of just being a role player.
“That’s what everybody else expected. I knew the type of work that I was putting in all summer. I knew that when I got my crack at it and, once I got my opportunity, I was going to take advantage of it,” Ellington said. “That’s part of this league — once you get your opportunity, you’ve got to be prepared and work, obviously.
“It’s showing on the floor. I had a great summer and I had a lot of time off, and I try to take full advantage of it and it’s paying off for me.”
Coach Dwane Casey has said he wanted Ellington to be a mentor for their young wings, including rookie Saddiq Bey and Frank Jackson, who was signed as a free agent during the season. It’s worked out well so far, and Bey has emerged as the next-best 3-point shooter on the roster.
It’s been a process, but Ellington has imparted some of his wisdom in the short time they’ve had to practice and to work with the young players.
“Just little things, little details that really help you. Every day, Saddiq and I have been shooting all season. I’ve watched him continue to get better and better with his footwork, just understanding how he can get open in little gaps and little seams where he can get to where guys can see him,” Ellington said. “Frank and I haven’t worked as much, but watching him, he’s got some very great footwork already. I asked him about it the other day and I forgot that he actually played with J.J. Redick (with the New Orleans Pelicans) last year.
“He was able to already watch a really great shooter and emulate a lot of that stuff. He’s already ahead of the curve.”