2012 NBA Draft: could the Pistons and Warriors be talking deals tonight?

Somebody could use a change of scenery...


With the 2012 pre-draft combine underway in Chicago, the league's lottery teams are busy interviewing draft talent and potentially talking deals for the upcoming NBA draft. Of these teams, there is one in particular that could be a trade partner with Detroit. A San Francisco Gate news report suggests that the Warriors' front office may trade out of the lottery for a veteran small foward. While Detroit's Tayshaun Prince may not be on their short list, Pistons GM Joe Dumars might want to dust off his sales technique.

The Golden State Warriors are reportedly looking to trade their #7 pick (or more) and Dorell Wright for a veteran small forward. The team is also interested in a backup point guard and a backup big man. Detroit's Tayshaun Prince has not been mentioned as an option for the Warriors, and his age and 2011-12 season may have kept him off of Oakland's radar. However, Detroit's #9 pick might interest the Warriors as a way to stay in the lottery and add a veteran small forward at the same time.

Financially, a trade of Tayshaun Prince and the #9 pick for Dorell Wright and the #7 pick don't work under the new CBA. Detroit would need to take on more salary to get it done, and doing so limits the pieces the two teams can play with. One potential situation, in addition to the pick swap, would see Detroit shipping both Tayshaun Prince and Will Bynum to Golden State in exchange of Wright and center Andris Biedrins. Golden State soured on Biedrins long ago, and his $9M annual salary is one of the team's more frustrating contracts.

Such a trade wouldn't excite many fans of either team, as Tayshaun Prince and Will Bynum would be consolation prizes when compared to the lustier SF veteran options. Supposedly, Golden State is targeting Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Rudy Gay, Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith. For backup point guards, the Warriors covet Jason Kidd, Kirk Hinrich, Andre Miller or Raymond Felton. By comparison, Tayshaun Prince and Will Bynum don't even rate.

The problem is that Golden State may want to temper its expectations a bit. All of their veteran forward targets played for playoff teams in 2012. Chicago likely has no interest in moving (or trying to replace) Luol Deng, Indiana and Philadelphia fought deep into the playoffs with Granger and Iguodala, respectively, and Josh Smith is the only one in Atlanta that is posing some badly needed salary relief in the near future. That leaves Rudy Gay, whose max contract presents the least value-per-dollar of any of these players. On the point guard side of things, all of these targets are free agents, and it's tough to imagine why any of them would want to spend their twilight years playing backup guard for a lottery team.

If Golden State can temper those expectations, they might want to take a night and think on what Detroit could offer. The two teams could move to balance their rosters while staying in the lottery. Golden State gets to address its pressing needs while picking 9th in the 2012 NBA draft. Detroit moves up to #7 while finding a backup big man, albeit an expensive one. The traded salaries constitute a wash. Beyond the addition of Andris Biedrins and Dorell Wright, Detroit does this for one reason only-- to make sure that Jared Sullinger is still on the board when their number is called. Taking on a less-than-perfect fit for Greg Monroe is a bit easier to swallow when you have a new 7-footer in tow who can actually rebound and block shots.

The other important benefit for Detroit is financial. If Detroit were to move Prince and take on Biedrins, the Pistons would have four big expiring contracts in the summer of 2014. That year, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Rodney Stuckey and Andris Biedrins will all expire for a combined $39.3 million. That would leave the team with about $11.4M in contracts as of today (assuming Austin Daye is not re-upped).

The key players to consider here, Tayshaun Prince and Andris Biedrins, are both coming off career-worst seasons. Biedrins is due $9M next season and he barely played in 2011-12. Prince had a bad year as well, despite getting a lot of burn in Detroit. If used properly, both teams could find new value in these mismanaged players. Prince could return to the role he was famous for-- a 4th option on offense, a defensive specialist and an all-around glue guy. If he can be used properly, his value certainly can return. On the other hand, Biedrins could use a change of scenery and a team that is willing to give him carte blanche and a shot at 25 minutes a night.

It ain't a pretty trade, but it could be a win/win for these unbalanced teams who hope to hang on to their lottery picks.

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