Atlanta — It was business as usual. Saddiq Bey was immersed in his usual routine in the days leading up to the trade deadline. Practices were held. Games were played. He was well aware that his name was involved in trade rumors, but he didn’t expect he’d actually be moved to a different team.
Bey, now a member of the Atlanta Hawks after spending his first 2.5 seasons with the Pistons, heard from his agent in the wee hours of the morning of the Feb. 9 deadline that there was a possibility that he would be traded.
The Pistons held a practice in the waning hours of the deadline, a session that Bey participated in and hung around afterward to get extra shots up. Within an hour or so, he was no longer a Piston.
In a prolonged four-team trade that wasn’t official until four days after the deadline, Bey was dealt to the Hawks by way of the Golden State Warriors, a deal that ultimately brought former No. 2 pick overall pick James Wiseman to Detroit.
Bey spoke to The Detroit News on Tuesday about the trade and how he processed being dealt away by the franchise that acquired him from the Brooklyn Nets on draft night in 2020. He cited his faith as his primary method of accepting his new reality.
“It’s tough as a competitor, but you have to remember that once you get traded, somebody wanted you as well,” Bey said. “You could look at it in a negative way, like, ‘Damn, this team didn’t want me? But, this team does want me.’ I think for me, looking at my faith, I just really trusted God. I think this is the place He wants me to be at, so I gotta make the most of it.”
For the first time in his career, Bey was lined up against the Pistons, on Tuesday night. With so many familiar faces inside State Farm Arena, it was bound to be an emotional night.
But, Bey approached the game just as he would with any other opponent. The result yielded one of his best outings since joining the Hawks. He showcased his full array of talent on both sides of the floor and finished with his third double-double of the season: 14 points and 11 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.
The performance also marked a first in the NBA this season, as Bey became the first player in the league to record a double-double in his first game against his former team.
After a brief verbal exchange between the Hawks and Pistons following a layup by Jaden Ivey during the final seconds of the game, each one of Bey’s former teammates embraced him. Killian Hayes — who was a part of the same draft class with Bey, along with Isaiah Stewart — traded for Bey’s jersey.
“I definitely had to get that jersey,” Hayes told The News. “It’s weird. I’ve been with him for like three years. Just seeing him in a different jersey, we were just talking about it. We played in Atlanta before Christmas and we went to the mall together, and now he plays for Atlanta. That’s just crazy. I’m just happy for him.”
Bey averaged 14.5 points and 4.9 rebounds on 35% shooting from the field during his time with the Pistons. General manager Troy Weaver said during his first press conference after the trade that Bey is like family to him. Bey said the two spoke after the trade, but didn’t reveal the content of the conversation.
“Saddiq is a worker,” Weaver said on Feb. 10. “A tremendous young man. He brought a lot to the table, and he’ll continue in his young career to continue to grow as a player. I’m excited for him to get another opportunity. I’m praying for his success. Couldn’t ask Saddiq to do any more than he’s done. The trade wasn’t easy, but to get a chance at this kind of talent to add to the group, it was best for the Pistons.”
Since joining the Hawks, Bey is averaging 10.4 points and 4.3 rebounds, and he’s shooting a scorching 45% from beyond the 3-point arc. His new coach and new teammates have already noticed and appreciated Bey’s work ethic and dedication to improving his game.
“There’s a quiet strength to him and a mental toughness,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said.
“I try to talk to Saddiq as much as I can,” said Hawks forward John Collins, who sits next to Bey on team flights. “Saddiq respects the game, works on his body, works on his craft. Has a total understanding on what it means to be a pro, so I just try to tell him to stay solid mentally and know that his time is coming.”
Bey’s tenure in Detroit made an impression on the front office, coaching staff, his former teammates and Pistons fans. So far, he’s having that same effect in Atlanta, where he has a new opportunity to showcase his talents.
“I think God has a plan for me that I might not understand all the time, but I believe and pray every day for the right situation,” Bey said. “I pray every day to just be the best player (I can be) and I feel like He opened a new door for me (in Atlanta). I have unwavering faith, no matter what happens.”