Well, that was an eventful draft for the Detroit Pistons. Entering the night with just one pick, the Pistons ended the night with four new draft picks, trading away Luke Kennard and adding three players via trade.
Let’s break down what the hell just happened with the Pistons in the draft and shortly before, and what it all might mean going forward regarding future trades, roster decisions and an approach in free agency.
Detroit Pistons Draft Picks
PG — Killian Hayes, Saben Lee
SF/PF — Saddiq Bey
PF/C — Isaiah Stewart
Players Acquired Via Trade
SG — Rodney McGruder
SF — Dzanan Musa, Trevor Ariza
C — Tony Bradley
Players Sent Out Via Trade
SG — Luke Kennard, Bruce Brown
So two players are gone, both young, both big contributors the past couple seasons in Detroit. Eight players have been added through the draft and trade though it’s unclear if all of them will stick in Detroit.
We can be confident all four draft picks will make the squad. Dzanan Musa will definitely make the team as well because he’s 21, he’s a former first-round pick, and the Pistons will want to see if there is any there there.
There have been various reports that the Rockets paid $4.6 million for a future second-round pick of the Lakers Detroit owned in the Reggie Bullock trade to help fund a buyout for Ariza. I find it likely he’ll never suit up with the Pistons. Same for McGruder who was likely sent in the deal simply open up a sliver of financial flexibility for the Clippers, though I’m less confident there.
Let’s further assume, since we’re in rampant speculation mode, that Tony Bradley sticks and that his arrival spells the end of Thon Maker’s time in Detroit.
That means six new players under contract in Detroit, though early reports indicate Saben Lee will be signed to a two-way contract. Joining incumbent players Sekou Doumbouya, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, Tony Snell and Svi Mykhailiuk. That is five for-sure returnees. That leaves us at 10 players (assuming Lee is a two-way deal) with a couple roster decisions to make — Khyri Thomas a 3-point shooting guard and Justin Patton.
The biggest question mark is Christian Wood. With the Pistons in obvious rebuild mode does Wood even want to return to a bad team like Detroit? They won’t win much, and Wood will surely be a hot name on the market.
The problem for Wood might be a financial one. There just aren’t any good teams with major cap space to offer Wood. That means if Detroit wants his payday after struggling on he fringes of the league for years, he has two choices. One, he can accept a fat payday to return to Detroit. Two, he can work with Detroit and facilitate a sign-and-trade to a contending team. Either option is a win for Troy Weaver.
It also begs the question how much patience Detroit’s veterans have for waiting to get shipped out to a competitive team. It’s certainly not the kind of situation Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose want to find themselves in all season. Or, for that matter, Dwane Casey, who was hired by Detroit to make noise in the playoffs.
Those days are long over, and we are in the beginning stages of a full rebuild. Part of that rebuild is figuring out what the rotation is going to look like in the new-look Pistons. We’ll project the future a little bit here and bank on Wood returning.
Detroit Pistons Starters
PG — Derrick Rose
SG — Svi Mykhailiuk
SF — Tony Snell
PF — Blake Griffin
C — Christian Wood
Detroit Pistons Reserves
PG — Killian Hayes, Saben Lee (two way)
SG — Khyri Thomas
SF — Dzanan Musa, Saddiq Bey
PF — Sekou Doumbouya, Isaiah Stewart
C — Tony Bradley
What does that mean for free agency?
Don’t rule out those Detroit vets getting shipped out in that early free agency window, which would dictate the kinds of players Detroit needs to sign to complement whatever garbage contracts head their way in exchange for future picks or young players.
All things being equal, the Pistons are likely keeping an eye out for an additional veteran point guard and probably a veteran center and maybe another power forward.