We’re inching up on the 2020 NBA Draft, something I feel like I’ve been saying for 18 months now. But it’s actually going to happen Nov. 18 so we have to get ready for it. I thought it best to drop some stuff I’ve heard, some threads I’m connecting, and some flat-out baseless speculation. Consider this an NBA Draft grab-bag. Let’s go.
I am no longer a quote-unquote “reporter,” and I have not been one in quite some time, but I still talk to people and hear some stuff. So, none of this is “reporting,” but it is good information.
I have heard, from various people that would know, that the Pistons do not like LaMelo Ball. “Wouldn’t take him at 7” levels of dislike. I had already inferred that (See: this month-old tweet), but it was nice to hear from others who know instead of infer. So, even as LaMelo interviews poorly (See: his Media Day interview, which is ... not great) and works out poorly (although 1-on-air workouts PROBABLY aren’t the best display of LaMelo’s singular elite skill, passing), extinguish any hope flickering in your hearts that he could be a Detroit Piston.
Speaking of Draft Media Day things, remember when Isaac Okoro cancelled his Zoom call?
Isaac Okoro, who was scheduled yesterday and was later moved to Wednesday, will no longer do a Draft Combine Zoom call with the media.— alder almo (@alderalmo) September 29, 2020
And that cancellation led people to the conclusion that he got a promise from some team in the draft? I heard that the team that promised him was the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs aren’t 100% on him making it to the 5th pick anyway, and you can read other, better sourced reporting about their interest in other players, but if he’s there, they’re taking him.
The top 3 is, in some order, Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, and James Wiseman. The “next 3” is, in some order, Obi Toppin, Isaac Okoro, and Deni Avdija. If we go off Okoro’s floor being Cleveland, believe the smoke coming from Atlanta that the Hawks would like to win asaptually, and use the “International Scout Drafts International Player” mental shortcut, that means Deni to Chicago at 4, Okoro to Cleveland at 5, and Toppin to Atlanta at 6.
If that’s how the top-6 plays out, Detroit’s preferred choices based upon who they’ve been rumored to take are, in some order, Tyrese Haliburton, Patrick Williams, Killian Hayes, and R.J. Hampton.
(Side note, if you are reading this, work for the Pistons, and would like to tell me I am a giant idiot about the board, you can email me at email@example.com. I would love for you to call me a big dumb stupid head. I will not say a THING until after the draft. And even then, I won’t say it was YOU who emailed me.)
If that’s how things play out, I think, all things equal, the Pistons would take Tyrese Haliburton. The Pistons do not want to miss on this draft pick. They are acutely aware that missing on Stanley Johnson (defensible) and Henry Ellenson (less defensible) is a big reason why Stan Van Gundy is only a coach now. Haliburton also completely embodies the type of person-not-player culture Troy Weaver is trying to establish in Detroit.
I also hear that Tyrese Haliburton would love to play in Detroit. Yes, he is a positive dude who fits anywhere and everywhere, but there ARE teams he would prefer not to play for, and Detroit is not on that list.
Rampant, Baseless Speculation
HOWEVER, I think Haliburton’s agent is trying to steer Tyrese away from the Pistons.
Gonna stop here and say, again, that if you did not read the section header, this is rampant, baseless speculation, not informed by any conversations with any individual.
Ok, with that out of the way, let’s do some game theory:
Who is Tyrese Haliburton’s agent? Aaron Mintz, of Creative Artists Agency.
Who else has Aaron Mintz as an agent? Luke Kennard.
Do you think Aaron Mintz, who is trying to get Luke Kennard a lucrative contract (that Mintz would get some percentage of) would want Luke to be in competition for minutes with someone who does a lot of what Luke does? Do you think Aaron Mintz liked the fact that the Pistons went into Luke’s third season with him coming off the bench - and only went away from that plan because of injury to Reggie Jackson (who is also a Mintz client who was not going to be in Detroit long-term)?
I do not. I think that the silence around Luke Kennard receiving an extension this offseason is pretty noticeable. I think there is frustration - earned frustration - on both sides of the agent-organization relationship. And I think that frustration would cause Mintz to not be a big fan of having his highest-profile prospect end up in Detroit - where he’d have to do this same song and dance in three more years.
Do I think this would prevent the Pistons from taking Haliburton? I don’t. But I wonder if a brand new front office wants to begin building their regime on a fault line.
If you would like to do your own agent-related rampant speculation, Patrick Williams is a Wasserman client, represented by Thaddeus Foucher and Joe Smith; Killian Hayes is an ISE client, represented by Yann Balikouzou, and R.J. Hampton is a Top Set Player Management client, represented by Dan Frank. Go wild.
Your Speculation Is As Good As My Speculation
“Hey Laz, why did the Pistons work out Kira Lewis?”
No clue. Haven’t heard much about him.
“Hey Laz, who else are the Pistons going to work out?”
LESS than no clue. If you see some reports or some agent talking about who’s worked out for whom, you can tell me. Otherwise, the Pistons are playing this close to the vest. From Keith Langlois, the Pistons.com writer, in a mailbag earlier this month:
As for other players, other than the several who said they met with the Pistons during the virtual combine – including Tyrese Haliburton, Killian Hayes, R.J. Hampton and Precious Achuiwa – no, the Pistons likely won’t be sharing that information with the media or public.
Troy Weaver is running a tight ship, which I’m sure is useful for them but boring for you and me.
“Hey Laz, are the Pistons going to trade up / down / out?”
“Hey Laz, are the Pistons going to add another draft pick?”
Ok, on this one, my Spidey-sense is tingling. I do think Detroit gets into the second round on draft night somehow.
“Hey Laz, who are the Pistons gonna take with your Spidey-Sense Second Rounder?”
“This isn’t very helpful.”
There is power in the known unknown - things you know you don’t know. I choose to embrace that power.