The Detroit Pistons kicked off NBA trade deadline day just after midnight Thursday morning, dealing Delon Wright to the Sacramento Kings for Cory Joseph and two second-round picks (Lakers’ in 2021, Kings’ in 2024).
Wright is the consensus better player, and is under contract for $8.5 million next season; Joseph is due $12.6 million next season, but only $2.4 is guaranteed. The Pistons will have a decision to make in the summer whether to keep Joseph around, or create a little more cap space by moving on. Note his contract would be the second-highest on the team behind Jerami Grant and could be useful in a bigger trade to match salary.
This season, Wright, who turns 29 in a month, is averaging 10.4 points, five assists, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals and shooting 34.8% from 3-point range in 36 games (31 starts).
Joseph, 29, is averaging 6.6 points, 2.5 assists, 2.3 rebounds in 44 games (two starts). He played under Pistons coach Dwane Casey for two seasons in Toronto (2015-17).
So, what are NBA writers saying about the swap?
Here’s a sampling from around the web:
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton
He gave the Kings a B-plus and the Pistons a B-minus, writing Joseph was likely to be waived in the summer, so adding Wright for an extra $6 million is worth the price.
As for this season, “Wright should help Sacramento’s playoff push,” Pelton wrote (the Kings are three games behind Golden State for 10th in the West and the play-in game). “Although Joseph is a solid on-ball defender, his lack of outside shooting (33% on 3s this season, right on his career mark) has limited the threat he can pose offensively. This season’s .536 true shooting percentage is Joseph’s best since 2014-15 yet still comes up short of Wright’s average .565 mark. Wright is a slightly stronger 3-point shooter (36% this season, 34% career) who provides many of the same pluses defensively as Joseph with more size.
“From Detroit’s perspective, the real trade is having Wright under contract for next season versus having the choice between paying Joseph $12.6 million or simply eating his $2.4 million guarantee. I’d rather have Wright, but I can understand if the Pistons preferred the second-round picks. There’s some upside to the Lakers’ second-round pick with both Anthony Davis and LeBron James sidelined and having a second-round pick from the Kings has worked out pretty well historically.”
For The Win’s Charles Curtis
He gave both teams a B.
“With the Pistons rebuilding, they’d rather have the future picks and Joseph’s contract next season isn’t fully guaranteed. So they could buy him out for a low price if they choose next year … or they could hold on to the vet also known for his defense and deal him next year.
“It’s sort of a lateral move that gains them some picks, so as you’ll see in a second, I think it’s sort of a win-win for both sides.”
On the Kings side, he likes Wright’s addition as a defender off the bench joining Sacramento’s trio of offensive-minded guards in De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield.
“Was that really worth giving up a couple of future picks — even if they’re relatively low ones — if the Kings continue to be inconsistent and miss the postseason? I get the idea of upgrading a bit with Wright, but I don’t see it making that much of a difference,” Curtis wrote.
Hoops Habit’s Duncan Smith
He marked the Pistons an A, appreciative of the cap space created and the picks. Remember, the Pistons dealt four second-rounders in the Luke Kennard trade on draft night, and don’t control their own second-round pick again until 2027. Now, they own three second-round picks in the 2021 draft (Toronto’s, Charlotte’s and the Lakers’).
“Joseph will likely play for the Pistons, but that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things,” Smith wrote. “Essentially they traded Delon Wright for $6 million worth of cap relief and two second-round picks. It’s yet another win for general manager Troy Weaver.”
Smith gave the Kings a C-plus, saying though Wright is “certainly an upgrade” over Joseph, “it doesn’t make much sense to pay a premium to get him” and “won’t move the postseason needle much.”
Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale
Gave the Pistons a B-minus and Kings a B-plus.
“Nabbing the Kings’ 2024 second-rounder could end up being a shrewd move. These don’t appear to be the Kangz anymore, but the Western Conference is brutal. Non-crappy teams can convey seconds in the top half of the second round.
“Neither of the seconds the Pistons return profiles as attractive enough to complete this move now. Wright wasn’t hurting the organic tank, and they could’ve feasibly shipped him into another team’s cap space over the offseason without taking back money.”