Ahead of the start of training camp this month, the Pistons had a simmering roster issue, with one guaranteed contract more than the league maximum of 15.
General manager Troy Weaver resolved the issue Friday agreeing to a trade with the Brooklyn Nets. The Pistons will get veteran center DeAndre Jordan, along with four future second-round picks and almost $6 million in cash for center Jahlil Okafor and forward Sekou Doumbouya, a league source with direct knowledge of the deal told The Detroit News. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the trade.
Jordan, 33, has two years and $19.7 million remaining on his contract, and the Pistons plan to buy out the contract, which would make him an unrestricted free agent. By sending out two players, getting one back in return and buying out the contract, the Pistons will net one roster spot ahead of the start of training camp.
The future draft picks the Pistons will receive are the Nets’ second-round selections in 2022 and 2027, along with another from the Memphis Grizzlies or Washington Wizards in 2024 and a fourth from the Wizards or Golden State Warriors in 2025. That infusion of picks will help restock the cupboard of draft capital for the Pistons, who had depleted their cache of future picks in other trades in recent years.
The Pistons had some decisions to make about their roster, including having too many guaranteed contracts, and trying to clear playing time for their young players. They were more likely to make a multi-player trade than simply waiving a player with a minimum contract and eating the salary. Okafor was on a veteran-minimum salary and had just one year remaining on his contract.
Doumbouya is just 20, but he was the longest-tenured Pistons player remaining on the roster, and the only one who predated Weaver’s arrival last year. With his departure, Killian Hayes’ the Pistons’ first-round pick in 2020 (seventh overall) becomes the longest-tenured player.
Doumbouya, a first-round pick in 2019, had struggled to find a foothold in the NBA. He averaged 5.1 points and 2.6 rebounds last season, playing in 56 games, with 11 starts. His best stretch came during his rookie season, when he had a career week on the Pistons’ western trip, with stellar games against the Warriors, Lakers and Clippers, among other teams. He had a career-best 24 points against the Boston Celtics on Jan. 15, 2020.
After two mediocre seasons, Doumbouya was entering a point where the Pistons would have to make a decision about his long-term future. He will be eligible to sign a rookie extension and the Pistons likely didn’t have confidence in keeping him for the duration of their rebuild. Doumbouya is slated to earn $3.6 million this season with a team option for $5.5 million in 2022-23.
Okafor, 25, is entering the final year of his contract after signing as a free agent last year. He posted 5.4 points and 2.4 rebounds last season.
By opening a roster spot, the Pistons can adjust accordingly. By dealing Okafor, they only have two centers remaining: Kelly Olynyk and Isaiah Stewart. One option could be to elevate rookie Luka Garza, a second-round pick, from a two-way contract to a standard contract.
Garza was impressive in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas last month, as he was named to the All-Summer League second team with 15 points and 9.6 rebounds and shot 40% on 3-pointers in five games.
If the Pistons decide to move Garza up to the main roster, that would open the two-way spot — potentially for another Summer League standout, Jamorko Pickett — who could be a target for other teams if he doesn’t have a guaranteed deal with the Pistons.
Current Pistons roster
►Guards: Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Frank Jackson, Cory Joseph, Saben Lee, Rodney McGruder
►Forwards: Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Josh Jackson, Isaiah Livers, Trey Lyles
►Centers: Kelly Olynyk, Isaiah Stewart
►Two-way contracts: Luka Garza, Chris Smith