Now, the theory makes sense. Looking at a guy like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, it's a reminder that it typically takes most NBA players a few years of seasoning before they're really able to help a team contend. With a number of key rotation spots to fill this offseason, using this draft pick to acquire a player who can be a plus player at one of those vacancies would be huge for helping turn around the Pistons' 32-50 record.
Plus, the team already has quite a few young players on its roster. Andre Drummond, Caldwell-Pope, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Quincy Miller all currently have guaranteed contracts and are 22 years old or younger. If you add two draft picks to that mix, a fair percentage of the roster would be dedicated to college-age players.
But on the other hand, you don't often see teams trade lottery picks for established players because it's tough to find a mutually beneficial deal. In 2011, the Spurs gave the Pacers George Hill for their draft pick, which turned out to be Kawhi Leonard. Both teams won in that scenario. But any options the Pistons could look at this year comes with a fair number of warts.
Some realistic options that could make sense:
Nic Batum or Danilo Gallinari
(h/t to KCP for 3 and it's through for also mentioning this suggestion)
The Nuggets are between strategies right now, seemingly having failed to be competitive with their current core but not prospect-rich enough to claim a true youth movement. They started selling off veterans for picks last season with Arron Afflalo and Timofey Mozgov.
Gallinari has been consistently injured since the Nuggets traded for him as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011, and it stands to reason they'd be thrilled to get a lottery pick out of him. Plus, already holding the seventh pick in the upcoming draft, they could conceivably enter next season with a group of prospects that includes Jusif Nurkic from Bosnia, Kristaps Porzingis from Latvia, and Mario Hezonja from Croatia. It'd be the Eastern European All Stars, and that'd just be fun for everyone.
Portland is also entering an offseason of transition with their cornerstone LaMarcus Aldridge contemplating moving on from the franchise where he's spent his entire career. A player like Frank Kaminsky seems like he'd be a great replacement and able to contribute quickly. Batum had a down year last season, and Portland may feel like they could replace him by managing to retain Afflalo and Wesley Matthews.
From the Pistons' perspective, these two would be ideal in the sense that they'd provide a solid starter at small forward - something the team hasn't had in years. The team would look strong at each starting spot other than power forward, which could make Detroit a more viable destination for one of the top tier power forward free agents on the market. If I'm Paul Millsap, if Detroit is offering more money in what might be my last big payday and I look like the missing link for them, well, that might make the difference in my willingness to sign there. I'm certainly not going to be willing to leave the East's best squad to help them go from 32 wins to 40 though.
But the major issue for these two for the Pistons is that they both enter the last deal of their contract this season. One year of team control for a solid player, but one dealing with injuries, is just too little to get back for an eighth pick in a solid draft.
Plus, Gallo and Batum have some pretty sizable salaries, which would make a big dent in the Pistons' ability to spend on the free agency market. Both teams would likely need to be willing to take on Brandon Jennings' $8.3 million expiring contract and toss in some extra compensation - which might be more than either Denver or Portland is willing to do.
Patrick Patterson, P.J. Tucker
These two aren't of the quality of players that Batum or Gallinari, but still have multiple years of team control on very cost-effective salaries. But the catch is that like the Pistons both the Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns are looking to be playoff contenders next year. They probably aren't too interested in trading away key contributors for draft picks.
Plus, if one year of guys like Batum or Gallinari isn't enough to get back for this pick, two years of Patterson or Tucker probably isn't enough either.
Terrence Ross, Terrence Jones
These are the possibilities that most resemble the Hill for Leonard deal.
Terrence Ross will be a restricted free agent next year, but took a step backwards last season. And for the second straight year, he was invisible in the playoffs. Trade rumors popped up about Ross last season around the deadline, but Raptors GM Masai Ujiri positioned Ross as part of their core. But keep in mind that Ross was part of the roster that Ujiri inherited - a roster that is mostly still intact. Moving Ross for the eighth pick could give a great chance to start putting his stamp on the team, and it'd also free up dollars in free agency next summer by not having to give Ross his raise.
Ross may not give the Pistons the level of production next season that Batum or Gallinari would, but it'd be a lot more than what they'd get out of a 19 year old. He's an athletic, floor spacing presence who has put up an average shot distance of 18 feet for his career - by comparison, Caldwell-Pope's number is 16 feet. In the right system, there's plenty of reason to think Ross still has upside remaining and could develop into a guy who offers 14-15 points per game with decent defense as soon as next year.
It'd be a move out of character with Daryl Morey, but so did jettisoning Jones in favor Josh Smith. Last season Jones was sixth in the league at his position in wins produced per 48 minutes, but has only received 24 minutes per game in the playoffs compared to 23 minutes per game for Smith. Jones will also be a restricted free agent next season - and if Morey isn't willing to give Jones the big payday, he may be willing to trade him for the Pistons' pick.
One other possibility along this line could be Jared Sullinger, though the Celtics would really need to sweeten the pot for the Pistons.
Doug McDermott, Nik Stauskas
Since it takes a few years of seasoning for a NBA player to be ready to contribute, targeting a guy who you would have targeted last season may be the way to go. After all, they're another year closer to being able to help their team.
Who the hell knows what Sacramento is doing. Ford also mentions them as one of the teams who could trade their pick, but heck, maybe they'd like having a second top 10 pick in the draft. Ben McLemore's successful sophomore season also might make the team less interested in Stauskas than they were a year ago.
Similarly, Nikola Mirotic's strong rookie year might make Dougie McBuckets seem somewhat redundant. Tony Snell also had a nice season, looking like Mike Dunleavy's heir apparent at small forward. The Bulls might even be interested in widening the trade, as Taj Gibson was placed on the block earlier this season at the trade deadline and would look great in a Pistons uniform.
Brandon Jennings and the eighth pick for Taj Gibson and McDermott could be a win for both teams. It'd give the Bulls an insurance policy for Derrick Rose, who hasn't had a healthy season in five years now, and another young prospect. The Pistons would take turn to pieces they don't expect to get much out next year of into immediately productive assets.
Now your thoughts. Are there any other reasonable trade ideas out there for the eighth pick that I'm missing?