Before knee tendinitis sidelined him, Luke Kennard was averaging a career-high 15.8 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 39.9 percent from 3 on a decent number of attempts. He has been considered part of the Pistons’ future. Yet a source said Kennard, who is guaranteed $5.2 million next season, has been made available in trade discussions.
Well, THAT’s interesting.
Luke Kennard has missed the last month of games with bilateral knee tendinitis, and there’s been a good deal of concern about why the third-year guard hasn’t been able to play since Christmas. Initially, he was supposed to be re-evaluated two weeks after Christmas, and we just haven’t heard much about his health status since. The latest report is that he could return after the All-Star break, which would be closer to eight weeks missed.
The Pistons, of course, have struggled without Luke’s scoring punch this season, so placing him in trade talks seems like it would help the tank. However, Luke’s considered a part of this team’s core moving forward, so why would the Pistons be willing to move him?
Well... there are a couple reasons:
Luke’s about to get paid
Kennard will be extension-eligible this offseason, just as the Pistons remove the big-money contracts of Reggie Jackson, Langston Galloway, and Andre Drummond (?). Kennard could command as much as $20 million in restricted free agency (that would be on the high side, but it’s not insane). Do the Pistons, in the midst of a (presumably) long-term rebuilding project, want to commit that kind of money to Luke?
Luke hasn’t played as much
Last year, Luke missed 20 games with a shoulder injury and other various ailments. Knee soreness kept him out of playing in Las Vegas Summer League in his second offseason. He’s clearly missed a lot of time already this season. It’s tough to say Luke’s been “injury-prone,” but he hasn’t been as available as you’d like, either.
Pistons have other options
Svi Mykhailiuk has played his way into the rotation this year as a less versatile offensive (but better defensive) version of Luke. I personally stand atop Bruce Brown Is A Point Guard mountain, but the Pistons might not. Louis King has played well in Grand Rapids and hasn’t looked completely lost in extended NBA minutes. Svi, Bruce, and Louis may not be a talented or as established as Luke Kennard, but they also will remain cheaper for longer.
I don’t think that Luke has a “For Sale” sign stuck on him like Andre Drummond does, but it sounds like the Pistons are exploring all their options, which they should. This rebuild is gonna be long and arduous, and there are many avenues to take along the way.