If you haven’t heard, the NBA trade deadline is coming up on Feb. 10. Every year there is a lot of hype around the trade deadline as fans think their team is going to make the big move to put their team over the top. And most years fans are underwhelmed as a few role players change addresses and none of the big-name players are moved.
But where is the fun in talking about a boring, realistic trade deadline? That is why I am going to make some bold predictions about the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are a young team and don’t really need to make any moves at this point in time, but I don’t foresee Troy Weaver standing pat. He’s a man who empties his clip and has the nickname Troy Reaper, after all.
Prediction 1: At least one of the “core four” is traded
During a rebuild, there are very few players that should be considered “untouchable.” The only player on the Pistons’ roster that should get that label is Cade Cunningham because getting players like him is the whole premise behind tanking in the first place.
In Troy Weaver’s first draft as GM of the Pistons, he made four picks including three in the first round. Those four picks — Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey, and Saben Lee — were deemed the “core four” and were supposed to be the main pieces of this rebuild. However, having three of the four players being non-lottery picks and being the center of what you hope to be the next great Pistons team is setting your team up to remain near the middle of the pack at best.
Draft position isn’t the end all be all for a player’s career. Many non-lottery picks have become star players. But at this point in time, do you really see a path to stardom from any of the “core four?” They all very well could be high-end role players and even approach the territory of being solid third or fourth options on a contending team, but championship teams are built around stars, and the early stages of the rebuild should be focused on acquiring potential stars on rookie-scale contracts.
I think Troy Weaver realizes this and he will not hesitate to move one of them if it results in sweetening a deal enough to take a big swing or simply taking a shot on a different prospect.
Who gets moved is another question. I think the only one of the “core four” who is safe is Bey. He has performed the best out of all of them and provides a skill set that is very much needed. I don’t think Bey is “untouchable,” but he is definitely the most untouchable of the core four.
My pick for the player most likely to be moved is Hayes. The rest of the league probably isn’t that high on Hayes at this point due to how much he has struggled in his young NBA career. And while the Pistons are trying to make a Hayes-Cunningham backcourt work, I don’t think a partnership between the two of them will ever be what is best for the long-term outlook of the Pistons — or either player.
Maybe moving Hayes to a team in need of a point guard and didn’t just draft a primary ball-handler as a No. 1 pick would be best for both teams. What a deal looks like and what team that is remains to be seen, but I just have a feeling it could happen, we are talking about Trader Troy after all.
Prediction 2: The return on a Jerami Grant trade will be underwhelming
Everybody has their ideas for a Jerami Grant trade. They dream of the Patrick Williams-centered package from the Chicago Bulls or a John Collins-centered package from the Atlanta Hawks. However, Jerami Grant chose to sign with Detroit, and he has a very close relationship with Weaver.
I think this means that the team will do everything it can to move Grant to a team he absolutely wants to be on and where he will be comfortable with his role. This means that it might limit the number of viable suitors even if a large majority of the league supposedly wants him. This will result in the return in a Grant trade being underwhelming.
Troy Weaver isn’t going to move Grant for the sake of moving him, but I just feel like both a first-round pick and a very promising young player won’t be involved in a potential trade. It probably won’t even be a “top-tier” prospect.
Now it is true that the Pistons don’t have to move Grant, and forcing a trade for an underwhelming return would be a bad look. I just think both parties see the writing on the wall and will work together to do what is best for each party.
Grant knew what he was signing up for when he decided to sign with the Pistons. But situations in the NBA change quickly. There is no guarantee the Pistons are ready to “compete” next season, which means an extension is probably off the table for Grant. Why spend three years of your prime on a rebuilding team when there is a robust market for your services?
Grant is the Pistons' best asset outside of Cunningham, but I think the relationship with Troy Weaver and trying to do good by the player will cause the return to underwhelm a bit.
Prediction 3: The Pistons will end the deadline with more draft picks than they started with
This one isn’t really that bold or specific, but I have a feeling the Pistons will move some players to acquire more draft picks.
That will likely mean more second-round picks, but the cupboard for second-round picks is still pretty bare for the Pistons with how many they have traded away over the years.
But maybe the Pistons manage to grab a first in a potential Grant trade. Or they flip one of the “core four” for a future first. Whatever ultimately happens, whether it is a big trade or a minor trade, the Pistons will end the day with more draft picks than they started with.
They will also clear some spots on the roster in the process to give more playing time to some younger players down the stretch.
The team is still in the asset acquisition stage of the rebuild. What better way to potentially add more assets than to flip players currently under contract for some extra throws at the dart board in the draft?
What are some of your predictions for the trade deadline? They can be scolding hot or very tame like my last one. Let us know in the comments below