Stargazing: What could the Pistons package to grab an established star this offseason? 

Detroit Bad Boys

A frustrated fan base seemingly wants big changes for the Detroit Pistons. They wanted big changes at the deadline — either a big swing for an established player or selling off quality vets for future draft capital to package in future deals. Neither happened. Rumors swirled around some of Detroit’s veteran players like Bojan Bogdanovic, Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, but ultimately all three stayed put (Noel has since been bought out and is now with Brooklyn). Bogdanovic, in particular, holds the most value he’s had in his career has flourished in a larger role — similar to Jerami Grant last season. At age 33, the forward leads the team in scoring at 21.6 points per game, and his recent stint on the injury list likely has more to do with lottery balls and long-term health than any immediate injury concerns.

Instead of trading away some of their higher value veterans, the team came away with former No. 2 overall pick, James Wiseman from Golden State and shipped out former first round pick, Saddiq Bey to Atlanta.

Reaction to the deal largely centered, pun intended, on Weaver’s infatuation with big men. He had another young big to add to last year’s deadline deal for Marvin Bagley and two recent draft picks on Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren. Question is, how many bigs will be on the roster heading into next season?

The front office is in an interesting position come this offseason, as the team has already made it clear they want to make moves to start competing. Now, whether that means trying to bring in a star talent or building the team out in the aggregate with it’s young core, we will see.

Detroit Pistons Introduce Draft Picks -Presser

Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

The issue is, this season was supposed to be a developmental year for the young players to grow and take a step toward having more of a winning culture, but the leg injury to Cade Cunningham in November stalled that process before it could even get started.

While some internal development and better health can be expected next season, the simple truth is for the Pistons to take a big step forward, they will need to acquire a big-time talent one way or another. Teams can get better “over night,” but it requires some foundational young talent, attractive assets a team is willing to move, and a not insignificant amount of luck that the right kind of player becomes available.

Let’s take the test case of the Cleveland Cavaliers – they were bottom dweller for years after their championship run, slowly acquired players in the draft who have panned out and ultimately took a home run swing in a blockbuster trade (Donavon Mitchell) that has escalated them back to become a top team in the conference.

It’s not clear if Detroit is taking that blueprint from Cleveland, but there seems to be some parallels. They will have an abundance of cap space this summer with almost all their first-round picks available for the foreseeable future (The New York Knicks own a protected first). Cleveland, like Detroit, is not exactly a free agent destination so the acquisition of premiere talent usually comes via the draft or a trade.

This year’s free agent class isn’t stellar, but if we’ve learned anything from the modern NBA over the last decade, any player can become available at any time. The prospect of a star becoming available in the summer really isn’t a matter of if, but when. And if the Pistons do look to make a push towards contention this offseason, what are they willing to give up in a package?

What would a future trade need to include?

You’re probably wondering what level of star we’re talking here — for this hypothetical situation, we’ll stay away from the Lukas and Giannis of the world and engage more in the next tier of stars. Could a tier one guy become available that the Pistons pursue? Maybe. But outside of Brooklyn, those players don’t always just emerge. So for this exercise, think fringe level All-Stars (Bradley Beal, Pascal Siakam).

To bring that player in, the Pistons would likely have to include Bogdanovic in a deal. The veteran forward has been the team’s best and most consistent player this season with Cunningham out — not to mention the most expensive. Bogdanovic is set to make $20 million next season and in order for contract numbers to work, a deal that includes him is likely. Other contract fillers may be needed as well.

Detroit Pistons v Toronto Raptors

Photo by Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images

The Croatian will be 34 next year in just his ninth NBA season after spending a chunk of his professional career overseas. As previously mentioned, he currently holds the most value he’s ever had and is on a team-friendly contract for what he’s produced. Prior to the trade deadline, Bogdanovic told HoopsHype he was assured by the Pistons that the team will “be great” next season. Of course, if the right trade doesn’t come together for Detroit, keeping Bogdanovic for the foreseeable future makes sense. His veteran presence has been much needed for a team that is filled with youngsters needing that consistent shot maker, but you’d have to think he would want to be placed into a winning situation sooner than later.

Last offseason, Weaver traded Jerami Grant away in a deal that would eventually net them an additional first round pick in the 2022 draft — that turned into Jalen Duren. Weaver has been able to make slick moves; that’s what got Detroit Bogdanovic in the first place. But is he willing to make the home run swing? And is Bogdanovic going to be able to sustain his level of play while staying healthy the remainder of this year?

But Bogdanovic is just your starting point.

This trade would also likely include one of Detroit’s budding young players, and the team is stacked with them. If you look at recent similar trades, the team giving up a star usually ends up with a high-ceiling, young talent or draft compensation – often times both.

We can make one thing clear: Cade Cunningham is off the table. Even with the season-ending injury, he projects to be the player with the most super-star level upside on the roster. The next question of Detroit would decide to part ways with may depend on the position of star they would pursue. If they were to pursue a guard/wing, I can see a deal including Jaden Ivey being a possibility. While Ivey has had a good start to his rookie season, he’d be more expendable if it were a choice between him and Cunningham. Ivey still has star potential, and any team would be happy to take him on.

Detroit Pistons v Toronto Raptors

Photo by Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images

Aside from Ivey, it’s possible Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren or James Wiseman would be available for the right deal for a star-level player. Both Stewart and Duren hold good value on rookie contracts and have shown they can be at the very least serviceable bigs in the league for a long time. Wiseman, on the other hand, is looking to play himself into that mold. If things break right for him over the next few months, his value could rise.

The last part of the deal would likely include some draft capital. Almost every move that involves a star-level talent will likely return some first round picks.

Now let’s address the elephant in the room: Detroit in all likelihood will be getting another top-five pick in the 2023 NBA draft, which looks to be a good crop. I don’t believe the team should think about moving off this pick unless it’s for a tier-one guy; in the case where they’re able to draft Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson, the star search ends there. Done, over. But you can’t bank on that.

The amount of picks could depend on many factors: the level of talent of “player X”, the reason for them becoming available and even the stubbornness of the team. In the summer, the asking price for Kevin Durant was too high for any team to consider. But once Kyrie Irving was shipped to Dallas and the Nets saw itself falling out of contention, the price went down.

At the end of the day, this is all hypothetical — but it’s always fun to think about the possibilities. Especially for a team that has lacked star power for some time.

Articles You May Like

6 candidates to replace Monty Williams if Pistons move on
NBA Finals Game 2 GameThread: Celtics vs. Mavericks
The Pindown: The Highest Upside Player at 5
Report: Pistons want Dennis Lindsey to join new front office

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *