NBA Trade Rumors: ranking the Detroit Pistons' trade assets


The NBA trade deadline is three weeks away, and the Detroit Pistons are one of many teams that could use some changes in the talent department. After a winning month in February, the Pistons should have a good idea of what's working and what isn't. Since trading poor players on bad contracts is rarely an option, the Pistons will have some tough decisions to make if they want to be active by the deadline. The question that fans and staff should be asking themselves is this-- which Pistons players are untouchable, and who can be moved for the right offer?

Key Producers

There are only three players in Detroit who have a net positive impact on the court this season. Greg Monroe, Jonas Jerebko and Rodney Stuckey are all rated above average by common advanced metrics, and they are the only Pistons that produce more points than they allow (ORTG vs. DRTG). Statistically, Vernon Macklin joins this group, but the sample size and garbage-time competition push him out of consideration. The three key producers in Detroit comprise the closest thing this team has to a "core", and for this team to build, that core needs to remain largely intact.

Rodney Stuckey: Since Rodney Stuckey signed at the end of the free agency period, he will be ineligible for trade by the 2012 NBA trade deadline. No matter your opinion on Stuckey, he'll be a Piston throughout the 2012 campaign.

Trade Value: B-

Trade Probability: N/A

Greg Monroe: If there's any untouchable part of Detroit's core, it's Greg Monroe. Monroe is the closest thing Detroit has had to a superstar since Grant Hill was drafted in 1994. A 21-year-old kid with a good heart, a polished low-post offense and the ability to command double-teams is not something you trade away. This is the type of talent and personality that smart GMs build around for the long haul. If Monroe were to be traded, it would likely be Joe Dumars' last move as GM in Detroit.

Trade Value: A+

Trade Probability: 0/10

Jonas Jerebko: Despite the lack of development since Jerebko's rookie season, the NBA's only Swede has plenty of value as is. He's efficient, energetic, skilled and capable of playing a role at either forward position. Despite his non-stop motor, Jonas has more skill than your average energy big. Any team would love to have a player like Jonas on their roster not only for what he does now, but the potential that his skill represents for the future. The $4 million annual price tag doesn't complicate matters, since affordable contracts are rare even for middle-of-the-road talent.

Trade Value: B

Trade Probability: 2/10

Dead Weight

Beyond Detroit's key producers, the rest of the roster is split between dead weight salaries and low-cost players on rookie-level or vet-minimum contracts. In the dead weight department, Detroit has four players who are under-producing and overpaid, all of which may be as close to untradeable as it gets.

Charlie Villanueva: Villanueva has only played six minutes this season due to a mystery injury on his right ankle. If this alone doesn't make him immovable, his performance in the last two seasons doesn't help. Villanueva has $24M on the books, including an $8.5M player option for 2013/14. If he had been healthy this season and had played like he did in 2009, he might be moveable if Detroit was willing to give up a pick, a young player or take on a salary that is equally miserable. Since that didn't happen, fans might as well get used to seeing him on the bench in street clothes.

Trade Value: F

Trade Probability: 1/10

Ben Gordon: Detroit's other "big" 2009 free agent is buried under another massive contract. Gordon has $37M due if he exercises his $13.2M option in 2013/14, and he's currently not worth even a third of that. Is he untradeable? No, not in the sense that Charlie Villanueva is. Statistically, Gordon is producing on par with his sophomore season, and it's likely that some GMs have wondered how much his usage in Detroit has effected his production. If there's a team out there that can offer Gordon 16 or more attempts per game, an increase in efficiency could be expected. If he can be paired with a big point guard who can switch off on defense, a team could take a risk on Gordon but only if he's packaged with better value-- or that team can send out an equally bloated contract.

Trade Value: D+

Trade Probability: 2/10

Jason Maxiell: Like Ben Gordon, Jason Maxiell can be a predictable player to coach. If you yank his minutes around, don't expect him to produce. If you give him a role and regular burn, he can be an effective player. If Maxiell were to be given 36 minutes a night in February, he'd be averaging 9 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks while shooting 50% from the floor. If the Pistons want to move Maxiell, they might consider giving him an even larger role from now until the trade deadline. The only problem is that one positive month of play doesn't make that $5M player option any easier to swallow. On his own, Maxiell likely won't bring back value in a trade, but he could be involved in a package that ultimately puts Detroit in a better position.

Trade Value: C

Trade Probability: 3.5/10

Tayshaun Prince: Tayshaun's free agent trade restriction ends on March 1st, making him eligible for trades prior to the deadline on the 15th. But Joe Dumars didn't just extend Tayshaun to trade him a few months later. If he did, this is a failing strategy that Joe has failed at before-- and miserably so. The likelihood that Tayshaun Prince can be traded for more value than the cap space used to extend him is close to impossible. The 31-year-old Prince's production has fallen off a cliff in 2011-12, and his trade value followed him off the edge.

Trade Value: D

Trade Probability: 2/10

Rookie Contracts

Excluding Greg Monroe, Detroit has four players on rookie contracts plus the rights to Kyle Singler. In addition to Singler, who is currently playing for Spain's Real Madrid, the Pistons feature rookies Brandon Knight, Walker Russell Jr. and Vernon Macklin, plus third-year veteran Austin Daye. Of the five, only Knight has any value on the trade market beyond contract filler to make larger trades legal.

Austin Daye: If you're a fan of advanced metrics, you're not a fan of Austin Daye. Hell, if you've watched a Pistons game this season, you're probably not a fan of Austin Daye. Statistically, he's almost as bad as DaJuan Summers was last year, and if it weren't for DaJuan, Daye would be the worst Piston since Walter Sharpe. If any team looks to acquire Austin Daye from the Pistons, it'll be as part of a larger trade or not until his contract expires next season. I'd be shocked if any GM in this league could be sold on Austin Daye with any word remotely related to "potential".

Trade Value: D

Trade Probability: 3/10

Vernon Macklin: This late second round draft pick shouldn't be on any GM's radar. Like the other rookies on this list, Macklin's only hope for a trade is as part of a larger deal.

Trade Value: D

Trade Probability: 3/10

Kyle Singler: Since Singler isn't even on contract with the Pistons, he doesn't have any cap value in a trade. His draft rights don't have much value either, since he was picked in the second round and he isn't making big waves in the ACB. The only time Singler's name might be brought up in a trade is if a multi-player deal is in the works, and Dumars tosses in Singler's rights as a "bonus that won't cost you a dime and it could very well pan out" scenario.

Trade Value: D-

Trade Probability: 1/10

Walker Russell Jr.: Walker Russell Jr. was brought in as a stop gap when Detroit was dealing with a largely injured backcourt. This 29-year-old rookie performed admirably, enough to be signed for the remainder of the season. Despite a few solid early games, Russell has been underwhelming at best, downright bad at worst. It's possible his name won't even be involved in trades where salary/players need to be involved to make things happen. If he goes anywhere, it'll be to the waivers.

Trade Value: F

Trade Probability: 1/10

Brandon Knight: Few people inside and out of the Pistons organization would consider Brandon Knight touchable. His performance in Kentucky, his draft position and all the talking points about him will lead very few to actually consider moving the young fella. Would other GMs listen if Detroit offered Knight as the main piece of a multi-player deal? Absolutely. Knight has plenty of potential, and other GMs would certainly want to invest. The question isn't "can" the Pistons trade Knight, the question is "should" they. I'll explore that in another article coming tomorrow.

Trade Value: B+

Trade Probability: 1/10

Low Cost Veterans

Like the rookies above, the Pistons do have a small collection of veteran players on low-cost contracts that might wind up included in larger trades. None of these players will fetch a trade on their own, but they might be named if trades are stalling and Detroit's partners need salaries or heads to close a deal.

Will Bynum: There's little MF left in WB's game. Bynum is playing as poorly as he did during his rookie season before heading to Europe, and it's looking like he may head back there if he can't pick things up. There's little to no trade value here, especially since Bynum is due another $3.5M next season.

Trade Value: D-

Trade Probability: 1/10

Ben Wallace: It would be criminal to trade Ben Wallace in what is to be his final season in the NBA. It would be criminal, unless a trade was far too great to pass up and it would send Ben to a title contender. His name might come up as part of a larger package, but the right thing to do would be to give him the decision. There are some things more valuable than a quick fix to this team, and Ben Wallace's legend is one of them.

Trade Value: C-

Trade Probability: 1/10

Damien Wilkins: There's nothing exciting about Damien Wilkins, but for the money, he's about as valuable to this team as Tayshaun Prince. He's likely got another year or two left in the league, and he should join another team in training camp next season. He's useful at the end of the bench, but not useful enough to get the call as part of a trade.

Trade Value: D

Trade Probability: 2/10

Draft Picks

The Pistons currently have two picks in the 2012 NBA draft, and they have future picks available that they can send out in protected or unprotected fashion. A team in this position, however, shouldn't ever consider moving a first round pick unless it brings back all-star caliber talent with at least five years left in the tank.

2012 First Round Draft Pick: The Pistons had it easy in February, but the rest of the season won't be pretty. It's quite possible that New Jersey (+ Lopez) and Toronto pass Detroit in the standings, giving Detroit a shot at the 4th pick in the coming draft. Given the talent at the top of this draft, this pick could fetch a lot of value on the trade market. Unless it brings back an all star, the Pistons should stand pat.

Trade Value: A

Trade Probability: 1/10

2012 Second Round Draft Pick: Second round picks can present value between a few million and cash and as much as... Arron Afflalo. The Pistons aren't likely to get spellcheck-lucky with this pick, nor does the Gores-owned franchise need a few million in cash. This pick is probably staying put, barring a package with a player or two.

Trade Value: C

Trade Probability: 2/10

Summary

Trade Assets: Greg Monroe, Jonas Jerebko, Brandon Knight, Detroit's 2012 first round draft pick.

Trade Filler: Jason Maxiell, Vernon Macklin, Ben Wallace, Damien Wilkins, Detroit's 2012 second round draft pick.

Tough Sale Players: Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, Will Bynum.

Untradeable Players: Charlie Villanueva, Walker Russell Jr., Rodney Stuckey (trade restricted)

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Next up, we'll take a closer look at Brandon Knight's trade value and status as an untouchable Piston, then dive into individual trade options between teams in the league. For now, share your thoughts on the realistic trade value of our roster and whether or not you think a trade is likely by the March 15th deadline.

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