It wasn’t a Jerami Grant trade, but the Detroit Pistons did make an NBA Trade Deadline day deal involving a power forward. The Pistons obtained former No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III in a four-team deal also involving the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, according to multiple media outlets.
The Pistons sent out big man Trey Lyles, who has been a staple of Detroit’s rotation, and wing Josh Jackson who had recently fallen out of the rotation altogether, as well as a pair of second-round picks.
The deal will see the Bucks’ Donte Divincenzo headed to the Kings and LA Clipper Serge Ibaka going to the Bucks. The second-rounders Detroit is surrendering are the lesser of a 2022 pick between Cleveland and Golden State and a pick previously belonging to Sacramento in 2024 and that will go to the Bucks. The Clippers will receive Rodney Hood and Semi Ojele.
Bagley was famously the second selection and was selected ahead of Luka Doncic. But it wasn’t about Doncic. Bagley was also selected in front of Jaren Jackson Jr, Trae Young, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr. Mikal Bridges, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Miles Bridges, DiVincenzo, Anfernee Simons, Robert Williams, Jalen Brunson, Mitchell Robinson and Gary Trent Jr.
So perhaps it is fitting he attempts his career habilitation in Detroit, home of another big man famously selected at No. 2 overall in a stacked draft who didn’t really work out.
Darko. It was Darko.
Anyway … Bagley has struggled to carve out minutes and grow during his four season in Sacramento. I’m sure being saddled with the weight of where he was taken despite having no control over the process, and the fact that he was selected by a now former regime has not done him any favors.
Now he gets a fresh start on a team desperate for athleticism, offense and decent big-man play. Bagley has shot better than 70% within three feet of the basket for his career, but as of now that only makes up 28% of his shot diet.
Hopefully in Detroit with a pick-and-roll partner like Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes that can change a little bit.
He’s currently averaging 9.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in just under 22 minutes per game this season.
He’s also a willing albeit inefficient 3-point shooter at 6-foot-11, and that is a part of his game that could grow if he manages to stick around in Detroit. He will get a 20-plus game audition in Detroit and then enters restricted free agency.
If he performs well, the Pistons could be motivated to either sign him to a qualifying offer or work out a new multi-year deal. His qualifying offer stands at $14 million if he either starts 41 games or plays 2,000 minutes. If he doesn’t reach those thresholds it is halved to $7 million but the cap hold remains the $14 million.
Earlier this season, Bagley’s agent took the rare step of publicly calling out the team when it was clear he was not in their primary rotation and it was unlikely he’d hit those benchmarks.
Weaver and the Pistons including former agent Arn Tellem have seemed to want to cultivate a player- and agent-friendly reputation during their early tenure in Detroit. Assuming Bagley doesn’t suit up until Monday’s game against the Washington Wizards, it would be impossible for him to hit 2,000 minutes and it would require him to start 18 of Detroit’s remaining 25 games. That seems unlikely, though if Detroit also manages to trade Grant before the deadline or sits Grant as they did down the stretch last season, I suppose it is possible.
Either qualifying offer would not amount to chump change so there is no guarantee that he sticks in Detroit, and a multi-year deal would not necessarily have to pay him at that $14 million per season level.