The entire NBA is talking about the ongoing situation in Washington - I read no fewer than One Two Three Four FIVE “Wizards Collapsing” pieces this morning alone. With that in mind, the great Christopher Daniels put out the call, and the great staff here at DBB answered it. Is a trade the answer in Detroit?
1. Agree or disagree: The Detroit Pistons need to make a trade in order to move past their current middling status in the Eastern Conference.
Justin Lambregtse: I think the Pistons do need to make a trade, but not a huge one that will sacrifice a ton of assets. If the Pistons could use somebody like Henry Ellenson to acquire a bench shooter from a tanking team who has interest in seeing if they can get something out of Ellenson by playing him a lot, that is something I would pursue.
Michael Snyder: Of course they do, but the real question is: should they? I say no. Let this core develop and play out Blake Griffin’s contract and then recalculate. This team only takes a significant step forward with the addition of an elite player (which is something a majority of teams can say), and there are no current elite talents available that, realistically, could end up in Pistons red, white and blue (and gray). Their current ceiling is the fourth seed, and that’s being generous. Add a good (but not great) player like John Wall and their ceiling is the fourth seed without being generous.
What’s the point?
David Ferndandez: Depends on your definition of middling. As currently constructed, they are not a middling playoff team. I’m a firm believer that by March, they’ll be the 7-10th ranked team in the East. A significant trade should place Detroit as a firm playoff team for the next 3-4 years.
Steve Hinson: I’ve been out of commission for the past few weeks and have only been able to follow along with box scores and Twitter - so noted that this is from the 5,000 foot view and needing to catch up on games. But the Pistons are pretty much where we thought they’d be. Clearly afterthoughts in the East, still the same inefficient shooting as under Stan Van Gundy, still locked in on big, long term salaries.
So what’s the point? Isn’t this still just hanging out on a slightly higher setting of the mediocrity treadmill? The Bucks and Raptors show the value of staying the course - but the Wizards are a case study in the perils of waiting too long to make a necessary change. With the current personnel, it’s tough to see anything playing out differently. So yeah, a change in personnel is probably needed.
Lazarus Jackson: Surprisingly, this is a two-part question: Yes, the Pistons do need a trade (or roster additions) to move past their current middling status in the Eastern Conference. However, I would argue that the Pistons do not need to move past their current status - that their current best long-term bet is to build around soon-to-be three-time All-Star Andre Drummond (still only 25!).
You work and prepare guys like Luke Kennard, Khyri Thomas, and Bruce Brown Jr. to be “ready” by the time the contracts of Reggie Jackson, Langston Galloway, and Jon Leuer expire, and you can fill in the pieces around Andre Drummond (and Blake Griffin, however good he is) then.
Compete now, but no moves that would cause you salary cap pain in 2020.
Ryan Pravato: I really don’t know. I’d like to see this team at full strength before I try to make any judgement.
...Paging Luke Kennard...
2. If you agree, do you think John Wall fits or do you have someone else realistic in mind? If you disagree, which player or players performance(s) do you realistically see rising to the level of boosting this team enough to not need a trade?
Justin Lambregtse: I don’t think John Wall fits. He needs the ball and isn’t great off the ball, so he wouldn’t fit with Blake Griffin. The player I would want from the Wizards is Bradley Beal, which obviously would cost a lot and I doubt the Pistons have enough assets without surrendering multiple first round picks. As I mentioned in the last question, a bench shooter is all I would really like. Somebody like Kyle Korver or Anthony Tolliver?
Michael Snyder: No one on the current roster, by upping their play, is going push this team past Toronto, Boston, or Philadelphia and probably not Milwaukee. I’m OK with that.
David Ferndandez: We’ve played this Kemba Walker game too many times - he’s not available and if he is, Detroit doesn’t have the juice to make the trade. Same goes with Bradley Beal, and I wouldn’t be comfortable with what we’d have to dish out to nab Otto Porter. That leaves us John Wall - pull the trigger if you can get him in a salary dump. Detroit shouldn’t have to dish out multiple first round picks, or Luke Kennard to get him - so if the package is right, make it happen.
I won’t personally be paying this luxury tax, and I’m sick of watching .500 basketball
Steve Hinson: Hell no. Why would the biggest contributor for a team that has chronically underperformed be the solution to the Pistons’ underperformance issues? At the bare minimum, any new player they bring in needs to be a contributor for getting out of the bottom five in the league in true shooting percentage. Wall wouldn’t help there either. I’d rather explore guys like Goran Dragic, George Hill, Patty Mills, Jeremy Lin, or Quinn Cook. Any of those guys would bring more practical value than Wall.
But also, I think this team has bigger questions to explore when it comes to a trade that would be more than just another band-aid on a pile of band-aids. What does this new leadership want this team to look like and how does it get there?
Lazarus Jackson: John Wall is a laughable fit for this team - as an on-the-floor-leader, as a contract, as a declining star. Unlike Blake Griffin, Wall has not adjusted his game to compensate for the (admittedly slower) decline in his athleticism. He’s still a sub-par three point shooter (33 percent this season, 33 percent for his career), his off-ball activity is still non-existent, he still only defends when he feels like it (and he feels like it less and less often), and his assist rate has dipped this season.
Again, build up the kids - Luke Kennard, Khyri Thomas, Bruce Brown - up until they are the players you want to acquire. This is the Raptors model - Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, and Norman Powell (who could be both role players on a playoff team and the young, fun core of a rebuilding team) were all waiting in the wings in case of a Raptors implosion.
Ryan Pravato: Not interested in John Wall. Just don’t like the guy much. Sometimes in my Pistons dreams I see Stanley Johnson putting it all together and I see Reggie Jackson doing just enough to be a consistently decent point guard and to hold the fort down and not do wild, detrimental things at the end of games.
3. In a perfect world, where your trade or your player development angle works flawlessly, where do you see the Pistons’ ceiling this season?
Justin Lambregtse: I could see the Pistons being a top-4 seed, but the rest of the roster has to start making shots. That is the biggest issue right now and the Pistons will not beat very many good teams shooting how they are right now.
Michael Snyder: In my perfect world, I’m on a cruise ship 24/7 and, unfortunately, will have no time for Pistons’ ceiling talk.
David Ferndandez: If a trade goes down, Detroit could be a top-4 team in the East - but I’d pencil them in as the 5 seed if I were to make a prediction now.
Steve Hinson: This team has talent, but obvious flaws. It’s actually rather amazing that they’re 8-6 despite a league-worst 52.7 percent true shooting percentage. If they can find a way to add an efficient, quality player like Otto Porter next to Blake Griffin as a centerpiece, I think they can get to the 48-50 win range this season.
Lazarus Jackson: This season? Absolute ceiling is hard-fought first-round victory over one of the lesser lights in the conference (Indiana, mainly, no offense to all the Pacers analysts who are very fun to chat with). More likely, lose in six games to a Boston or a Toronto - honestly not all that bad considering where the Pistons have been.
The Pistons aren’t going to win a championship anytime soon, and ownership has shown zero desire to put a tanking product on the floor and bring even fewer people downtown than they already get sitting in the stands. Fans need to calibrate their expectations accordingly.
Ryan Pravato: In a perfect world of Pistons basketball this team wins every Eastern Conference playoff series in front of it and makes it to the finals, only to get beat in four games by the... Clippers.
That’s about as perfect as I can imagine.