The whirlwinds blowing furiously around the trade deadline have all died down. Some teams are reaping the rewards of daring trades made like the one made by the Philadelphia 76ers for Tobias Harris. Some teams are reeling from trades unmade like the one that got away from the Los Angeles Lakers in their HIGHLY publicized bid for Anthony Davis. Many teams made no moves to make any moves at all.
Our Detroit Pistons found themselves smack dab in the middle. Making two trades but nothing that rocked anyone’s world or boat or anything else really.
We discussed the trades made, the ones that might have been, and the pick up of a highly (?) sought after free agent.
Note: for more in depth coverage of these three topics definitely listen to the podcast where Laz and Ben go deep, very deep.
1. What are your grades for the Svi Mykhailiuk and Thon Maker trades? Thoughts on either/both?
Benjamin Gulker: The return for Bullock was a little underwhelming, but ultimately probably fair. Clearly, the Pistons weren’t willing to approach the tax to retain him, so they got what amounts to two second-round picks. Svi is an interesting prospect and fits a need, and the timing of the future second round pick is interesting. Moving Stanley Johnson for anything is a win, and a change of scenery might be good for Maker.
Justin Lambregtse: I give the Thon trade a B and the Svi trade a B-. I was really high on Thon in the draft, and although he has been a bit disappointing so far, he could be a potential cheap backup big for next season which this team will need. I like the potential of Svi, and I like getting something for Bullock, who I like a lot, but I will miss Bullock and don’t really understand trading him if you are still trying to compete for the playoffs.
Lazarus Jackson: C- for the Svi trade - would have liked a more impact player for Reggie Bullock, even though I understand WHY Ed Stefanski and the front office targeted a guy like Svi. I still feel like you could’ve gotten a low first for Reggie Bullock, though - Oklahoma City wouldn’t have given you their pick this year? Houston wouldn’t have given you a future first for another wing to put around Harden? Svi himself, though, continues to intrigue and I hope he plays well in Detroit.
I’d give a C for the Stanley - Thon trade. Two guys who just needed another team to play for, not much more to say about that. Saving the Pistons money was nice.
Ryan Pravato: I’m not sure of what to make of Thon Maker -- have seen him play a few times and haven’t been turned off, and even remember him having an impactful game or two. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is a guy I was high on in college, so I’m not exactly disappointed in getting a closer look at him. I’d give both moves B grades. Svi could turn out to be starter-caliber
Steve Hinson: Reggie Bullock for Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk: D
Stanley Johnson for Thon Maker: C
I’m glad that the front office decided to flip both players, as neither would be likely to be back next year. I just hope that Ed Stefanski knows something about these guys that we don’t. The return for Bullock is objectively bad. Kyle Korver got back a solid rotation player and two second round picks. Rodney Hood, who isn’t good, brought back two interesting young players and a second round pick. Even the Mavericks got more back from Harrison Barnes, cap space and a recent first round pick. The Pistons got two second round picks from the Lakers. Surely they could have gotten “more,” as it appears on paper. So Mykhailiuk had better actually be good. And Maker seems...strange. Certainly he’s talented. But there’s asking to be traded from a team that’s currently one of the best in the league, the flying kung fu kick, the lack of development, I just worry that he’s not a guy that gets it. And the Pistons aren’t great with centers that don’t get it.
They’re a pair of trades for lottery tickets. Maybe Stefanski has some information about these guys that make their odds of hitting it big look better. But I think the odds are pretty low.
Brady Fredericksen: Neither trade blew me away, but I’ve been a proponent of getting something for what you’ll lose in free agency for some time now, so I’ll give them both a C. Svi I’m-Not-Even-Gonna-Try-To-Spell-It might end up being as good as Reggie Bullock, but he’s far from it right now. This team needed shooting though, so to gain a potentially good shooter while losing your best is fine. The second round pick might help in a trade this summer, but it doesn’t do much for me outside of that. Maker, however, is interesting to me. He could end up being a nice complimentary piece. Maker gives the Pistons much-needed athleticism off the bench and could conceivably play with both Drummond and Blake Griffin, something Jon Leuer and Zaza Pachulia cannot. For all of his faults, he seems like an imperfect player that fits this team better than the imperfect guy he was traded for.
2. Any trades you wished the Pistons had made that were rumored or that other teams pulled off? Or, were there any you were especially happy didn’t happen?
Benjamin Gulker: I’ve been an advocate of patience, so I’m glad the Pistons didn’t undersell a current asset or mortgage a future asset to make a short-term push this season. The Pistons will have a handful of contracts that will expire at the end of the 2019-20 season, all of which will be more appealing a year from now than they are now.
Justin Lambregtse: I was kind of hoping for a Mike Conley trade, but this team also can’t afford to trade draft picks, which are potential cheap contributors. I wouldn’t have been mad because I like Conley, but it also probably wouldn’t have been the smartest thing.
Lazarus Jackson: Ben and I talked about this on the podcast - I am more pleased that the Pistons did not trade the 2019 first-round pick than anything else this season. Yes, this draft is not great, and yes, the Pistons have a long and sordid history of being terrible at drafting, but the pick remains the primary way this team can add a true difference-maker for the future.
Ryan Pravato: I would have done Drummond for Jeremy Lamb and Nicolas Batum.
Steve Hinson: The Hornets and Grizzlies were talking Marc Gasol for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo, and a lottery protected first round pick. It fell apart about haggling on the protection. First off, that’s dumb. The Hornets pick will probably fall in the 12-17 range. Who cares if it’s 12 or 17 in a draft like this? And if you’re the Grizzlies, you’d hope that it rolls over to a better draft next year. Let the Hornets protect the shit out of it this year, then favor you for future drafts. Ahem. That’s when the Pistons should have swooped in with a player who is younger, a better fit with Kemba, and a better pivot player for the franchise if Kemba leaves. You know who. MKG would give the Pistons an actual real life small forward and the perfect player to fill Johnson’s shoes, Biyombo is fine. And both are expiring contracts that would leave the Pistons with a shit-ton of expiring dollars that they could either use to flip for a somewhat overpaid co-star for Blake (a good idea (so long as it’s not John Wall)) or try their chances on free agency (a bad idea).
The Mike Conley for Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, and a first round pick would have been so, so dumb. I like Mike Conley. But let’s be clear - there was a point in time that Mike Conley’s contract was the largest in NBA history. When you’re a shitty team looking to rebuild, playing hardball about the 31 year old dude who you signed to the largest contract in NBA history is idiotic. Even worse would be to get sucked into that hardball play.
Brady Fredericksen: There was part of me that wanted to see Mike Conley come to town, for the right price. I just think his underrated, gritty style would have fit the Pistons’ mantra really well. He would have been a nice complement to Griffin and Drummond. At the same time, he would have cost an arm and a leg while putting the Pistons in the same payroll hell that Washington was in before it traded Otto Porter. Opening up cap room and allowing yourself the ability to make moves going forward is smart... but thinking you can lure a premium free agent to Detroit thanks to cap space and an (eventually) deteriorating Blake Griffin is not. Hopefully the front office has more up its sleeve than that.
3. While not a trade, what grade do you give the pick up of free agent Wayne Ellington?
Benjamin Gulker: B, with the caveat that I’m hoping there will still be minutes for some of the younger guys so the franchise can determine who figures into the long-term plan, while Ellington almost certainly does not.
Justin Lambregtse: In the context of trading Bullock, I give it an A. They got a young prospect and a 2nd round pick for Bullock and were able to replace him with a very similar player. Ellington is also older so he won’t be as expensive if the Pistons want to re-sign him in the offseason.
Lazarus Jackson: It depends on how Ellington is deployed. If he functionally replaces Langston Galloway in the lineup and shoots 39 percent from three? A+. If Ellington eats into the development time of Khyri Thomas or mysteriously loses his shooting touch as soon as he comes to Detroit, then it’s a C, a worthy gamble that didn’t work. Either way, I doubt Ellington is a big part of the team’s long-term plans.
Ryan Pravato: In the Ellington trade news’ comment thread, I made it known I was pretty against it. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a team that’s going for the 7th or 8th seed. If you can’t squeeze in with the mostly young shooting guards you have now, then you got bigger problems on your hands. If this team was a 6th or 5th seed and wanted extra shooting to improve their position, I can see where a guy like Ellington can serve as a weapon or insurance....so then it makes sense. Ellington is 31 and we know what he is. There’s at least two, maybe three other guys on this team that should be taking ALL the shooting guards minutes.
Steve Hinson: A+. Because having a 15 man roster where 6 members of that roster are shooting guards, 4 of which who were were brought in by this front office, with shooting guard still not being a particularly strong position...that is an accomplishment that deserves some applause.
Brady Fredericksen: Aside from being a few inches shorter, I’m not sure there’s that big of a difference between Reggie Bullock and Wayne Ellington. They’re both one-dimensional players, very good at what they do but flawed in other ways. I think Ellington gives the Pistons a spark but this team has a tiny group of shooting guards and small forwards. He’s also a bad defender, but so was Bullock. I’m not sure they’re much better or worse than they were on the court today than they were five days ago, but if their Zion odds aren’t gonna be great, let’s make the playoffs I guess.
That’s where we’re at with these moves. What about you, especially now that we’ve had a chance to see the three in action?