Detroit Pistons at NBA trade deadline: Which players are most likely to be dealt?

Detroit Free Press

It has been a quiet trade period across the NBA thus far, with less than two weeks before the Feb. 10 trade deadline. Like any year, talks will heat up rapidly as we get closer to the date.

The Detroit Pistons were active before last deadline, dealing Derrick Rose, Delon Wright and Svi Mykhailiuk, and parting ways with Blake Griffin to accelerate their rebuild. They are positioned to make more moves this season, and second-year general manager Troy Weaver will continue to explore avenues to bring back more assets. 

Here’s where the roster stands ahead of the trade deadline. Players who have spent significant time with the G League this season, such as two-way forwards Jamorko Pickett and Chris Smith, second-year guard Saben Lee and rookies Luka Garza and Isaiah Livers were not included in this evaluation.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST: These 3 deals give an idea of what Pistons may get in Jerami Grant trade

Most likely to fetch a big return

Jerami Grant

While it remains to be seen if the Pistons will be offered a deal that meets their asking price, the fact remains Grant’s skill level and reasonable contract ($20 million this year, $21 million next season) has made him one of the NBA’s most intriguing trade targets. The league has had great parity this season, and multiple contenders and playoff hopefuls are searching for avenues to improve their rosters.

Grant checks multiple boxes as a proven playoff performer who can defend multiple positions, space the floor and get to the free-throw line at a high rate.

Why is now potentially the best time for the Pistons to move Grant? Grant, who turns 28 in March, is extension eligible this summer and due for a big pay raise. He’s outplayed his contract thus far, and his production has made him a bargain from Detroit’s standpoint.

But it may not make sense for the Pistons, who have the NBA’s second-worst record at 11-37, to commit an additional $100-plus million in salary to Grant. By next trade deadline, Grant’s value may not be as high since he’ll hit free agency that summer.

That doesn’t mean the Pistons have to get a deal done by Feb. 10. Keeping Grant, a very good player who bet on himself and on the Pistons in 2020, through the deadline would still be a logical outcome. I don’t expect the front office will settle for a deal that doesn’t accomplish their goal of meaningfully moving their rebuild forward. They could wait until the offseason.

But there’s pressure on interested teams to pony up now, rather than wait.

BIG IDEAS: 4 Jerami Grant trades Pistons should pursue ahead of deadline

Veterans on moveable contracts

Cory Joseph

The 30-year-old point guard is having a strong season, averaging 8.4 points, 3.9 assists and shooting a career-high 45.3% from 3-point range. He signed a two-year deal worth around $10 million last offseason, with a player option for the second season. He has been an important member of the team, mentoring the younger players and being an organizer on the floor. But his team-friendly deal and all-around game make him a natural trade candidate.

Trey Lyles

Lyles, because of injuries to others, has become one of the most important rotation players. He has mostly played out of position at center this season, but has settled into a nice offensive groove. Lyles is averaging 10 points and 4.8 rebounds off the bench. His cheap deal (two years, $5.1 million) and the Pistons’ lack of size could make him less likely to be moved, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he is dealt.

Kelly Olynyk

Olynyk is one of the most skilled players on the roster, but he played just 10 games before spraining his left knee, which caused him to miss 33 consecutive games. Olynyk briefly returned during Detroit’s Western Conference road trip two weeks ago, but entered health and safety protocols after two games and hasn’t played since. His contract is reasonable — three years, $37 million with a team option for the final season. Like Lyles, it’s tough to see the Pistons moving Olynyk unless they acquire another big man to replace him.

Rodney McGruder

The Pistons traded McGruder on Jan. 10, but the deal for Denver Nuggets forward Bol Bol was voided due to concerns about Bol’s physical exam. McGruder has been one of Detroit’s best shooters since, hitting 55.6% of his shots and 53.8% of his 3-pointers. The team is willing to move him for the right deal.

Josh Jackson

Jackson is on the back end of a two-year, $10 million deal, which is the Pistons’ biggest expiring contract. He has been toward the end of the rotation this season, and any interested teams could be better off pursuing him in free agency rather than giving up an asset for him now. He could be included in a bigger deal to make the money line up.

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Probably here to stay

• Isaiah Stewart

• Saddiq Bey

• Killian Hayes

• Hamidou Diallo

• Frank Jackson

The first three players are Weaver’s first three draft picks as a GM, while Diallo and Jackson are young players the Pistons took fliers on. Jackson was a two-way player last season and re-signed on a two-year deal, and Diallo was acquired ahead of last year’s trade deadline and re-signed for two years and $10.4 million.

They’ve all been productive rotation players this season, and it’s tough to see the Pistons moving on from any of them right now unless it’s a no-brainer deal.

Diallo has outperformed his contract and has been in the starting lineup since Dec. 12. Bey has taken additional strides toward becoming an offensive focal point after proving to be a reliable spot-up shooter as a rookie.

Stewart, Hayes and Jackson haven’t shown significant improvement compared to last season, but they all fill important roles on the team. Jackson is one of the best shooters on the roster, Hayes is a plus defender and passer who is still finding his comfort level as a scorer and Stewart serves an important role as a screener and rebounder.

How Pistons are helping Isaiah Stewart reach his potential as a perimeter threat ]

Weaver isn’t one to shy away from a deal that makes sense, and I think there’s only one player on the roster who can be classified as untouchable right now (or at least, as close as untouchable as a player can be barring an outrageous offer). None of these five players is untouchable, but the Pistons have strong incentive to stay the course.

Definitely here to stay

Cade Cunningham

This is self-explanatory. Cunningham, 20, was the No. 1 pick in July and has played like it. He has improved every month, and in January is averaging 17.9 points, 5.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 combined blocks and steals on 45.5% overall shooting and 38.2% shooting from 3. He has only played 39 games, but by every definition of the phrase, Cunningham is a franchise player.

Draft picks

The Pistons don’t control their own first-round pick until 2028 due to the 2020 draft night trade with Houston that yielded Stewart. Because of the protections on the pick that Oklahoma City now owns (1-16 in 2022, 1-18 in 2023-24, 1-13 in 2025, 1-11 in 2026 and 1-9 in 2027; if the pick has not conveyed, it will convert to a 2027 second-rounder), the Pistons are currently unable to trade a first-rounder until the 2022 draft. They dealt all of their future second-rounders through 2026, but own six second-round picks from other teams through 2027. In the 2022 draft, they will retain their own first-rounder and will have Brooklyn’s second-round pick.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.

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