The Detroit Pistons are among the teams most interested in trading for Markelle Fultz as the Philadelphia 76ers look for a new landing spot for their former No. 1 overall draft pick, according to Liberty Ballers, SB Nation’s Sixers website.
Liberty Ballers spoke to sources that indicated both Detroit and the Orlando Magic were the two teams that seemed to have the most interest in trading for Fultz, who has been ineffective this year, can’t seem to shoot at all and was recently diagnosed, according to his agent, with thorasic outlet syndrome.
That condition is caused by blood vessels and nerves are compressed between your collarbone and first rib. It’s important to note that Sixers team doctors did not make this diagnosis, and that anytime you listen to NBA insiders talk about this or Fultz in general, the skepticism seems mighty high.
Whether it’s a physical or mental hurdle Fultz needs to overcome, he certainly is dealing with something that is limiting his effectiveness. Fultz is shooting 41 percent on the year and just 28 percent from deep, and practically refuses to shoot form any sort of distance.
So why would Detroit do this?
Well, if there’s ever a case of buying low, this is it. Fultz, may not have been a consensus No. 1 pick but he was closer than people remember, and even those who favored other prospects didn’t seriously doubt that Fultz could be effective in the NBA.
He’s a dynamic and athletic point guard prospect with high defensive potential. But he’ll never amount to much with his offense at or near its current level. Fultz makes $8.3 million this year and $9.7 million next year, so he’s not exactly cheap.
What the Sixers are asking for to save face (remember, they traded for the No. 1 pick because they were so desperate to draft Fultz. They gave up No. 3 pick and a future first to Boston. The Celtics used that No. 3 pick on Jayson Tatum, who seems like he’s going to be the best player in his draft class.
What would a deal look like?
Detroit could roll the dice and trade the expiring deal of Ish Smith with Fultz as the new backup and, if lightning strikes, a replacement for Reggie Jackson somewhere down the line. The fact that Detroit is so displeased with their point guard play that they would take a giant gamble on Fultz means they are likely hoping a change of scenery and the tutelage of Dwane Casey gets the mercurial guard right soon.
What does Philly actually need in return?
Giving up Ish is all well and good, but certainly the Sixers want more, and they aren’t particularly in need of a point guard with Ben Simmons and TJ McConnell already on the roster. They are a little thin at shooting guard with JJ Redick getting spelled by rookie Landry Shamet.
The Pistons are desperate for 3-point shooting and all their best 3-point shooters are shooting guards. Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway. The Sixers might have a use for Galloway but he’s last on their wanted listed.
They could want Kennard, the player with the best upside, but that’s a big price for Detroit to surrender. They could also want Bullock, the best player with a proven track record. Bullock is injured now but he’s a deadly 3-point shooter and he’s about to enter unrestricted free agency.
Bullock will get a giant pay bump over the $2.5 million he’s making this year. Detroit might feel like they can’t afford to retain Bullock after this season. Kennard is waiting in the wings, and the team already has an expensive roster. Trading your best 3-point shooter is terrible but it’s also better to get something now than nothing later if you’ve determined he’s likely to walk.
Would Detroit rather send a future pick in a deal? That’d be risky because if Fultz doesn’t improve then a bad, struggling team would probably get even worse and that pick would be in the high to mid-lottery. They could try and protect it but the franchise doesn’t have many ways to improve unless they hit 21 on the Fultz gamble.
I dunno, guys and gals, I find this all so confusing. And intriguing. Maybe the only hope Detroit has is this one-in-a-million shot. Would you take it?