There are a number of mock drafts out there that have the Pistons picking anyone from Terrence Williams to B.J. Mullens, but what mock drafts do not "mock" are potential trades involving draft picks. About a week ago, Draft Express reported that the "word on the street" is that Detroit is talking trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The rumor is that the Pistons would send their 1st round pick (No. 15) and Amir Johnson to the Thunder for cash.
Right now, the Pistons have just under $20 million to spend come July 1 when the free agency period starts. By giving up Amir and the first round pick, the Pistons would have close to $25 million and would presumably pursue both Carlos Boozer and Ben Gordon (more) aggressively.
The question is whether or not it's worth it to have more money to spend (or waste, depending on your opinion) on an injury prone Boozer and another guard in Ben Gordon. Is the only way to get these two really by freeing up more cap space? I think not. Dan Feldman of Piston Powered believes the rumor's untrue and won't happen because:
$5 million in cap room is not as valuable as a young, athletic forward who has a low-paying expiring contract and the 15th pick. You don’t just give away two positive assets and get nothing in return.
I'd like to think the Pistons can utilize their draft position and make a productive pick. They drafted the No. 15 pick just fine in 2007 when they took Rodney Stuckey, but other than Stuckey and Mateen Cleaves in 2000 at No. 14, the middle of the draft is, for the most part, unfamiliar territory for the Pistons. They are usually near the top of the lottery or near the butt of the first round. By trading their current first round draft pick for an already proven NBA player, they would know exactly, or at least have a better idea, of what they are getting as opposed to gambling on a player based off of college numbers and, say, how many times the player could bench 185 lbs at the pre-draft combine in Chicago.
The only problem with selling the draft pick is as I already mentioned. It also gives the Pistons a little more money to spend on a fairly weak free agent class this summer. Unless the Pistons are willing to wait for the summer of 2010, which Dumars has said he is not, gaining more money at this point might just be feeding guys like Boozer, Gordon, Millsap, and Okur lucrative offers that they may not necessarily deserve.
SB Nation's own, Tom Martin from the Houston Rockets blog, The Dream Shake, reached out to me asking if I thought the Pistons were willing to sell the 15th pick because he heard something of the sort from ESPN's Chad Ford and claimed his Rockets are a team looking to buy a pick. All I had heard was the rumor I received from the aforementioned Draft Express report (that was subsequently discussed on Detroit Bad Boys) from the week before. I didn't have a drawn out response for Tom, but it definitely made me think a little outside the box, though.
Could selling the pick to the Rockets set up some sort of sign-and-trade deal involving Ron Artest, too? I know a lot of Pistons fans would love to have Artest despite the 2004 brawl. What about bringing Shane Battier, who I coincidentally went to high school with, home to Detroit? Do the Rockets have enough money to not give up a player of their own as part of the deal? Is that something the Rockets and/or Pistons would be interested in anyway? Honestly, I don't think so, but I've seen crazier things happen.
Then another similar rumor surfaced yesterday. Dime Magazine reports that the Pistons are interested in trading for New York Knicks' PF David Lee. Dime Mag presumes Lee is the Pistons third option, behind Paul Milsap and Carlos Boozer, but a trade involving Amir Johnson and the No. 15 pick could be in the works if New York were to agree. While I've heard the David Lee talks before, this particular rumor doesn't exactly make much sense to me. If Lee is indeed the Pistons' third choice, behind free agents like Boozer and Milsap, then a pre-draft trade would mean Detroit either has a pretty good idea that Boozer or Milsap would not sign with them after July 1 (which they can't since rules forbid negotiations to take place before then) or they're not willing to wait and make offers to their top two choices. I would think with a GM as smart and savvy as Dumars, they'll likely wait until Free Agency starts after the draft to see if they are able to land Boozer or Milsap rather than make a potentially impulsive pre-draft trade for their lesser option.
Obviously these are just a few teams the Pistons could work with and aren't the only options out there. I'm merely touching on the few rumors that have been brought to my attention in the last week. I'm interested to hear what you think could happen between now and the draft, or now and the beginning of the season even. Do you see the Pistons moving their No. 15 pick? If so, for who/how much? If not, who do the Pistons draft?
Do you think they could trade their pick immediately following the selection or the draft? For example, let's say the Oklahoma City rumor has some truth to it, but the Thunder do not want to risk someone else selecting B.J. Mullens before No. 15 and lose out on the player that enticed them to make a deal with Detroit in the first place. Therefore, they tell the Pistons to pick Mullens at No. 15 if he's there and then they have a deal. Otherwise, the Pistons go on with their normal selection and there is no deal. Really, anything could happen.
Use the comments and let's hear what you all think.