While Troy Weaver and the Detroit Pistons execute their due diligence ahead of the NBA Draft, a new report indicates that if the Pistons did make a trade their target would be a surprise.
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony spoke to several NBA teams and said that if the Pistons do decide to trade the No. 1 overall pick, they would target big man Evan Mobley. Other reports indicate that while Cade Cunningham is the favorite, the Pistons are also intrigued by dynamic G League Ignite guard Jalen Green.
Givony’s reporting suggests the Pistons are comfortable taking Cunningham No. 1 but is active in exploring potential trades down to obtain additional assets. He indicates that the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder are among the teams figuring out what they would need to give up to move to No. 1.
However, it’s important to note that every team is in the early stages of the process and evaluating what is and is not possible. Teams assessing what it would cost to move up doesn’t mean they are likely to do so. And The Pistons exploring trade possibilities doesn’t mean they are anxious to trade down from No. 1.
Givony writes: Cunningham is still the “overwhelming favorite to end up in Detroit at that spot still, which, by the way, I’ve been told [Cunningham] would be very excited about.”
We can chalk this up to a methodical, meticulous GM exploring every potential opportunity. But, yeah, #JustTakeCade.
Now ..... let’s think about what it would actually take for each of these reported teams to move up to No. 1. Because once we actually understand the cost, we will understand why it is incredibly unlikely for the Pistons, the other team or both.
The Cavs would almost surely be looking to unload Colin Sexton and the No. 3 pick as a starting point. What else would it take? The Cavs have all their own first rounders, Isaac Okoro and many incoming second-rounders. But with the addition of Cade Cunningham, a presumptive re-signing of Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland, the Cavs could be moving up in the standings relatively quickly. Okoro certainly seems like a Weaver-type player, but the Pistons are desperate for an alpha scorer and Okoro is certainly not that. And Sexton is about to get awfully expensive.
The Rockets would be moving one spot and have a Christian Wood reunion to offer as well as first rounders from Milwaukee (23) and Portland (24). The Pistons also owe Houston a first-round pick as part of the trade that netted Isaiah Stewart. They have 2023 first-rounders from Milwaukee, Washington (lottery protected) and far-flung picks from Brooklyn.
None of those picks is terrible appealing unless you really want to play the long game on the Nets eventually being terrible and want to select Evan Mobley anyway.
New Orleans Pelicans
This is the most interesting name on the list, and probably the most desperate team. I’m sure literally everything not named Zion Williamson is on the table. Trouble is, not much of value is there. They have the 10th pick, which is a heck of a long way for Detroit to fall in the 2021 draft. They have tons of picks coming from the Lakers and Milwaukee thanks to the Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday trades, respectively. But those will all likely be pretty mediocre picks unless you predict a Giannis exodus and Bucks implosion. I’m sure they’d also be more than willing to part with Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis Jr. Those names are all various levels of intriguing but it would put Detroit into a position similar to the Pelicans. A bunch of interesting pieces but nothing that puts you over the top. If the Pelicans can’t do much with those guys plus Zion what can we expect to Detroit to make from that platter?
Oklahoma City Thunder
I’m sure Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is off the table. That means the Thunder could offer you the majority of their future eleventy billion first-round picks and a grab bag of Lu Dort, Theo Maledon or Alesej Pokusevski. Maybe everyone has their price, I’m just not sure what is feasible and what is silly season when it comes to the assets the Thunder have the ability to part with.