Evaluating Troy Weaver’s trade deadline moves as Detroit Pistons GM

Detroit Free Press

Troy Weaver has earned the nickname, “Trader Troy,” since his Detroit Pistons general manager tenure began in June 2020.

Weaver is a man who moves quietly — he signed a secret contract extension last summer that only became public a few days before Christmas — and has quickly earned a reputation for his aggressiveness and fearlessness in making deals.

He has made dozens of trades in less than 3 years on the job, including four during the season.

With the NBA trade deadline looming Thursday at 3 p.m., this is the perfect time to evaluate Weaver’s previous moves. He has made a deal on each of the past two deadline days.

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A look at Weaver’s track record for midseason deals:

(All statistics through Sunday)

Feb. 8, 2021: Goodbye, Rose

Dealt: Derrick Rose to New York Knicks.

Acquired: Dennis Smith Jr. and 2021 second-round draft pick (from Charlotte; Isaiah Livers was selected No. 42 overall).

Buzz: This first in-season deal came more than six weeks before the deadline and reunited Rose — on an expiring contract — with Tom Thibodeau, who coached Rose in Chicago and Minnesota. The move allowed the Pistons, a league-worst 5-18 at the time — sound familiar? — to give their young players more time on the court. After falling out of favor and the rotation in his two previous stops, Smith (the No. 9 overall pick in 2017) played in 20 games (nine starts) with the Pistons, and averaged 7.3 points and 3.7 assists in 19.6 minutes per game. He had a few highlight moments, but ultimately was a non-factor long term, and signed with Portland in the offseason.

The bigger reward was the draft pick, which became Livers, who spent four years at Michigan. He has looked like a competent forward, at times, but has been limited to 51 NBA games due to injuries. The Pistons have a $1.8 million option to bring back Livers, 24, for a third season.

Rose helped the Knicks make the playoffs after the trade, averaging 14.9 points in 35 regular season games, and was productive last season despite injuries limiting him to 26 games. This season, he was overtaken in the Knicks’ rotation in early December, and the 34-year-old is once again a trade candidate.

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March 13, 2021: Hello, Hamidou

Dealt: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and 2027 second-round pick (from Houston) to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Acquired: Hamidou Diallo.

Buzz: Mykhailiuk flourished the previous season, showing his 3-point acumen on volume (40.4%) and some playmaking ability in 56 games in Detroit. But his shooting deserted him (33.3%) in the first half of Weaver’s first season, and combined with his lack of length, he did not seem like a player Weaver would covet long term. That proved true when Weaver dealt Mykhailiuk to his former employer in return for Diallo, who featured an opposite skill set. Mykhailiuk moved onto Toronto last season and played in 56 games as a fringe rotation piece, but shot just 30.6% on 3s, and has played sparingly in 13 games with the Knicks in 2022-23.

Diallo was a former five-star recruit and NBA All-Star dunk champion — a bouncy 6-foot-5 shooting guard with a 7-foot wingspan. He signed a two-year, $10.4 million deal after showing promise in 20 games post-trade (11.2 points, 5.4 rebounds). He has found a role this season as an energetic, slashing two-point scorer, while the 3-point shot has been cut from his diet: He’s shooting 59.8% on 2s this season with just 18 3s attempted (and five makes). He turns 25 this summer, when he will be an unrestricted free agent, and without a reliable jump shot at his height and with defensive deficiencies, it’s fair to wonder about his future.

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March 25, 2021: Guard swap

Dealt: Delon Wright to the Sacramento Kings.

Acquired: Cory Joseph, 2021 second-round pick (from LA Lakers; Luka Garza was later selected No. 52 overall) and 2024 second-round pick.

Buzz: This one came overnight leading into deadline day, with the Pistons and Kings swapping veteran point guards and the Pistons recouping two second-rounders. Both Wright and Joseph had played for Pistons head coach Dwane Casey while in Toronto. Wright was having a nice season with nearly 30 minutes per game, but had a more expensive contract and more guaranteed money than Joseph for the following season. The Pistons ended up re-signing Joseph after the season to a cheaper two-year deal, and he has been a serviceable point guard. He even started 39 of his 65 appearances in 2021-22. Meanwhile, Sacramento traded Wright to Atlanta the following summer, and a year later, he signed as a free agent with Washington.

The Pistons took a shot on Garza, the former Iowa big man, late in the draft and he signed on a two-way contract, but later was converted into a regular NBA contract and played in 32 games as a rookie. He averaged 5.8 points and 3.1 rebounds over 12.2 minutes per appearance while becoming a fan favorite. The Pistons did not bring him back for a second year and he signed a two-way deal with Minnesota, where he has appeared in 19 games and averaged 5.7 points and 2.1 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game. Garza, 24, has provided depth since Karl-Anthony Towns’ injury in late November; he scored a season-high 17 points Friday on 7-for-9 shooting (and 2-for-3 on 3s) with six rebounds in 10 minutes in a 127-120 loss to Orlando.

Feb. 10, 2022: Getting the bag

Dealt: Josh Jackson and Trey Lyles to the Kings, 2023 second-round pick (less favorable of Cleveland/Golden State) and 2024 second-round pick (from Sacramento) to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Acquired: Marvin Bagley III.

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Buzz: Weaver had been rumored to like Bagley, and interest in a deal had been reported for months leading into the deadline. A trade finally came to fruition on deadline day involving four teams and seven players, giving the Pistons a look at Bagley for the final two months of the season before he was scheduled for restricted free agency. The two picks the Pistons gave up in the deal were acquired from other teams, including the Sacramento pick from the Joseph-Wright swap.

The move was pegged as a high-upside, low-downside acquisition, with the nomadic Jackson and Lyles not seen as part of the future, while Bagley was in his fourth season after being drafted No. 2 overall. He gave the Pistons an athletic rim-runner down the stretch, and surprisingly played his way into a fully guaranteed three-year, $37.5 million contract last summer. Bagley turns 24 in March and is currently sidelined with a broken right hand, adding to the already lengthy list of injuries he has suffered in his career.

Jackson was recently released by a G League team, while Lyles this season has proved a valuable bench player in 46 games for the third-in-the-West Kings, averaging 7.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game.

Check out the latest episode of our podcast “The Pistons Pulse.” Episodes drop every Tuesday morning, and we’ll have a special live edition Thursday night after the trade deadline. Listen on AppleSpotify or wherever you load up podcasts.

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