The Detroit Pistons are a bad team and no deal at the NBA Trade Deadline is going to change its season. The Pistons are also in year three of a rebuild, and I don’t think any deal would appreciably change their long-term outlook. They’re going to have a high pick in a seemingly loaded 2023 NBA Draft, and they can’t afford to screw it up.
I mention this because I need people to be prepared for the likelihood that the Detroit Pistons not only fail to make a seismic deal at the deadline, they might not make any deals at all.
Now, if I had to put my chips on the table, I say they will more likely than not do something, but I also take them at their word when it is reported that the Pistons front office has a stance of needing to be blown away by an offer in order to move players like Bojan Bogdanovic, Alec Burks or Saddiq Bey.
In his latest trade rumor roundup for Hoops Hype, Michael Scotto had this to say about the stance of the Pistons front office:
While some rival executives believe it could be a posturing tactic, others are taking the Pistons at face value that they want to compete next season with a high lottery pick alongside the backcourt trio of Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Killian Hayes and veteran presences of Bogdanovic and Burks.
Bogdanovic, who’s averaging a career-high 21.3 points, could force a desperate playoff team looking to get over the hump to offer a lightly protected first-round pick and a good young player. He turns 34 in April and is owed $39 million over the next two seasons, which includes a partially guaranteed $2 million for the 2024-25 season.
Some rival executives believed Detroit could get two second-round picks for reserve swingman Alec Burks, but the current stance from Detroit is that won’t be enough.
There has been talk about what it would take to pry away Bojan — the Lakers’ two potential future first-rounders at the top end of the supposed market and an unprotected future first at minimum.
The premise has been that it is all posturing and Detroit will lower its demands. Could be.
But it’s also clear that the Pistons are sick of being a 20-win team, and that the franchise doesn’t want to rely on internal growth from its young players to do all the heavy lifting of climbing back toward .500.
We can litigate the logic of relying on two players currently healthy and playing big minutes for one of the worst teams in the league as being indispensable to a not-too-distant version of the team to be much more competitive, but we’ll save that argument for a different date.
What does it mean if the Pistons don’t deal Bogdanovic and Burks? It means the Pistons have a starter and a sixth man penciled into the lineup for next season. Or it could mean that they have two attractive assets to use in the offseason in case a big trade is possible. Or they have two players who could be on the market next trade deadline as the dust has settled and the franchise has added a future star (lets call him Victor W. for short), a healthy Cade Cunningham, further development from other young players, and whatever the hell they decided to do with $40 million in cap space this offseason.
I’ve always been 99% certain Burks is back on Detroit’s roster next season. He’s too good a shooter, has a team-friendly contract, a team-option that provides flexibility, and would represent too little a return in a deal to bother sacrificing all that I mentioned before. Bojan is a bit more complicated. His defense on an already bad defensive team is problematic, and he’s old enough I’d rather he get shipped out for a pick and a player with potential as a wing defender. But he’s also one of the few adults in the room on a very young team. I understand the reluctance to part with that. But Detroit needs so much, I hope that some team provides a Weaver a deal that is too good to refuse.
Otherwise, Detroit really doesn’t have the assets. I’d rather Saddiq spend an offseason shooting 100,000 threes and seeing if he can rebuild his value as a perimeter option off the bench than the paltry return he’d probably fetch if dealt now. And while Nerlens Noel might get you a second-rounder in the 40s, Cory Joseph and Rodney McGruder aren’t going anywhere unless its via buyout.
So start preparing for a quiet deadline, Pistons fans. And figure out how you’re going to make it through these final 30-plus games with your fandom in tact.