Remember Marvin Bagley III?
The former Duke star and No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft has had some highs and lows in his career with the Sacramento Kings. He’s flashed the physical skills that made him such a coveted prospect, and he’s produced when he’s been on the floor.
But things have gone south for him in Sacramento. His father demanded a trade this offseason, while Bagley refused to enter a game earlier this week. That’s especially not a good look, but the Kings are, well, the Kings.
I know Troy Weaver wants all of the good apples in the NBA, but you gotta break some eggs to make an omelet. This basketball team needs talent. Buying low on Bagley is the kind of gamble the team should consider, if the price is right.
While in Detroit, I was advised to put the Pistons down as a team to watch as a trade suitor for the Kings’ disgruntled Marvin Bagley III.
No trade anywhere is considered likely, sources stressed, until after Dec. 15 arrives and the league’s pool of players eligible to be dealt grows considerably. That’s the date that trade restrictions on numerous players who signed new contracts in free agency in August gets lifted.
The Pistons, though, have been tracking Bagley since last season, league sources said — long before the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 fell completely out of favor in Sacramento.
The Pistons reportedly turned down a Bagley for Saddiq Bey deal last season — which, duh. However, they’re now in need of front court help with Kelly Olynyk’s recent sprained MCL putting him on the shelf for at least six weeks.
Taking a flier on a talent like Bagley could be a good start. He hasn’t taken a big step in 3+ seasons, but he’s consistent in averaging at least 14 points and 7 rebounds per game. He’s shown can be a capable shooter from downtown and has the natural scoring ability to help a Pistons team that seems incapable of it.
Here’s an interesting nugget on his contract status from ESPN’s Bobby Marks:
One thing to keep in mind with Marvin Bagley III is the starter criteria in his contract.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) October 19, 2021
If Bagley does not start 41 games or plays 2000 minutes this season, his Qualifying Offer for next offseason will drop from $14.8M to $7.3M.
I don’t see him starting 50% of any teams games, for what it’s worth.
All of that said, there are some on-court warts here.
Bagley really needs to improve defensively, and he’s very much a tunnel-vision scorer. Once the ball goes in to him, it ain’t coming out. He reminds me of a few other big, scoring tweeners in Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams. The latter never found his footing despite immense physical talent, while Beasley eventually settled in as a scoring specialist. Neither could ever defend a lick.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Bagley ended up in that boat, but he’s also only 22 years old. We shouldn’t bury him just because he was drafted in the same cluster of stars Dendre Ayton, Luka Doncic and Trae Young.
Finding talent in a rebuild means taking shots on guys like Bagley. Josh Jackson is the perfect example of a top pick in need of a change of scenery.
Ironically, Jackson or Hamidou Diallo and, say, Trey Lyles may be the cost to acquire Bagley, speculates James L. Edwards and Jason Jones of The Athletic. It’s worth noting that Diallo and Lyles cannot be traded until Dec. 15 as they were signed this offseason.
The Pistons need talent, we can all agree there. The question is whether Bagley, at the right cost, is the king of worthwhile gamble Detroit needs in its never-ending search for more potentially high-level talent.