News & Views: Any deal for Pistons’ No. 1 pick should come at a steep price

Detroit News

In a perfect world, the Pistons’ front office, led by general manager Troy Weaver, already has decided to take Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft on July 29.

It’s the sensible thing to do, after all.

The goal of every lottery team is to defy the odds and rise up to the top pick to take the best player available. In this case, it has been — and has been all college season — Cunningham. Second-guessing it at this point is tricky, and although there’s no issue with looking at the other options, the question comes back to the starting point: Cunningham.

Certainly, there’s room for Weaver to sniff around and see if there’s a deal that makes sense. Getting the first pick means more value, and if the Pistons do their due diligence and conclude that either Southern California big man Evan Mobley or G League guard Jalen Green is a better option, then they should make a trade.

That’s where things get tricky. It’s not about making a trade for the sake of making a trade. There are certain things that have to be in any proposed deal — namely the No. 2 (held by the Houston Rockets) or No. 3 pick (Cleveland Cavaliers) this year. Passing on Cunningham would have to include getting one of the other players the Pistons like, and all signs point to them having more interest in Green or Mobley than Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs.

That’s not all.

There would need to be at least one more top-10 pick, either from a recent draft, this year or one in the next two years. It’s a steep cost, but if another team covets Cunningham more than the Pistons, they already should know that moving up is going to be costly. It’s the price of doing business at the top of the draft.

Add one more thing: another young player or pick.

Again, it’s a tough business in dealing for the No. 1 pick. Cunningham has had star potential written all over him since he arrived in Stillwater, Oklahoma, so this isn’t some unknown prospect who had a good season and skyrocketed up draft board. If another team wants Cunningham, they’d have to come and get him — and they’d have to come with a handsome offer.

That’s just the starting point. If there are other pieces involved, there might be some additional considerations, such as taking on a veteran to make the salaries work and to balance out the scales.

If it seems like a lot, it is — and it should be. After all, the easy thing for the Pistons to do is to let all the trade calls go to voicemail and stay focused on Cunningham themselves.

It is, after all, the sensible thing to do.

In this week’s News & Views, the focus is on the rising Phoenix Suns and some G League developments:

► News: The Suns cruisedin Game 1 of the NBA Finals behind Chris Paul, who had 32 points and nine assists.

► Views: It’s funny how these things come together. The Suns weren’t supposed to be this good this soon, and the Milwaukee Bucks never were supposed to get to the Finals in the rugged East. Still, here we are, talking about overachieving teams in a championship matchup that few predicted. Paul is heading toward a Finals MVP if the Suns can prevail, and Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton can jump out of anonymity if they continue as they have.

Giannis Antetokounmpo looked good in his first game after sustaining a scary knee injury, but the Bucks defense looked suspect, at best. The Bucks looked to be more the experienced team on paper, but they came out somewhat tentative while the young Suns appeared to be the more veteran team that was undaunted by the big stage.

► News: The Grand Rapids Drive announced Wednesday that they were becoming the Gold and aligning with the Denver Nuggets.

► Views: The Pistons bought a new G League affiliate and named it the Motor City Cruise, which will begin play this fall. The Nuggets didn’t have a G League team, so although the distance is an issue, having a development squad is good for their franchise. It’s also good for Grand Rapids, which has supported the Drive well through the years.

The Pistons wanted better proximity than having their prospects travel two hours to Grand Rapids and they achieved that with the Cruise, who will play in midtown Detroit. There’s synergy there with pairing with their parent squad and having a good fan base in the city, also aligned with the Pistons.

Many of the younger players, including Sekou Doumbouya, Saben Lee and Frank Jackson, could have benefited from having a G League season. However, that was scuttled because of the pandemic and the logistics of having to get players in and out of the Orlando bubble and cleared in time to play for the Pistons. Things should be more normal this year.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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