LaMelo Ball held an individual workout in front of top brass from the Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Hornets, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Until this private workout, Ball had only worked out for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who own the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.
The two primary being: 1. Does Detroit think Ball will really last until Detroit’s pick at No. 7? 2. Assuming the answer is no, how do they plan on trading up to secure his services?
I’m confident they are under no illusion that Ball would be available and would require the Pistons to trade up. Detroit has all its own future draft picks, and the only way it makes sense for a rebuilding team like Detroit to forfeit a future asset is if they think doing so would help them secure a franchise-altering talent.
If the interest for Ball is legit, they must assume he is a future franchise cornerstone.
As previously reported on Detroit Bad Boys, people familiar with Detroit’s draft preparation were clear that the Pistons were not interested in Ball, including being willing to pass on him if he tumbled and was available at No. 7. Is this new information a smokescreen? Is it simply due diligence?
Whatever it is, it’s worth considering what it would take to actually put the team in position to take Ball. Surely another pick, and I’m not sure what veterans Detroit has that would entice a team like the Warriors or the playoff-thirsty Hornets or Wolves to slide down to No. 7.
There is a chance a Tony Snell and/or Derrick Rose, both on expiring deals and useful in a rotation, could be traded if one of the teams is looking to get off some bad long-term deal. Luke Kennard seemingly is readily available as he is about to be up for a big contract after the upcoming season.
There’s also the specter of the long-bandied about Warriors-Pistons trade. If both organizations are confident the Wolves are staying at No. 1 and not taking Ball then they could be colluding to make a move on draft night.
That deal would be centered on a swap of the monster deals of Andrew Wiggins and Blake Griffin and trading the No. 2 and No. 7 picks. Blake, when healthy, is the superior player and the Warriors want to compete for one last title run with its core. Wiggins is also on the books for one extra year, so it would greatly limit Detroit’s financial flexibility in a couple years.
Because the Warriors are so deep in the luxury tax, they might ask the Pistons to take on Kevon Looney and his nearly $5 million salary. If Detroit could avoid that, it’d actually open up $7 million in flexibility this offseason as the team looks to take on bad contracts for assets and have enough room to re-sign Christian Wood.
I have no interest in having Wiggins on the Pistons, but I will mention a few other small bright spots. It opens up the power forward position for Christian Wood to start, assuming he comes back, and, being a huge fan of Blake, it’d be nice to see him join the vets in Golden State and competing at a high level again.
Griffin deserves better than a rebuild in Detroit.
But back to Ball. Would it be a wise move? Most draft watchers consider Ball the No. 1 prospect in the draft, and one of the few with elite level skills — in his case his passing.
He is not without risks, however. He was a certified tire fire on defense in spite of seemingly having the tools to be an adequate defender, he has not interviewed well, allegedly, and his shooting is so poor it could hamper his effectiveness longterm.
Weaver, seemingly, is unphased by those concerns, and the first-year GM might just take a big swing as he looks to steer the Pistons off the treadmill of sub-mediocrity and into a competitive, growing franchise.
We will have more if this story develops.