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Should the Pistons have paid the price to trade for OG Anunoby?

Anunoby would have filled Detroit’s biggest holes, but he wouldn’t have come cheap

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Toronto Raptors v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

We finally know roughly what it cost to trade for OG Anunoby because the frequently mentioned trade candidate finally got moved by the Toronto Raptors to the New York Knicks. The terms of the deal: Anunoby, Precious Achuwa, and Malachi Flynn go to the Knicks, RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and a 2024 second-round pick from Detroit (aka, very high!) go to Toronto.

I actually think Quickley is likely viewed as the key return piece here, with Barrett a nice 1B who is young, cost-controlled, and a native of Canada but also not likely to be a star. The second-rounder that is more like a low, low first-rounder doesn’t hurt. But it’s certainly not a bonanza of assets for Anunoby that I’m sure many Raptors fans thought was inevitable.

The question, then, for Detroit Pistons fans is whether they should have attempted to trump this offer and trade for Anunoby.

Anunoby was a well-known Pistons trade target at the team’s biggest position of need as a power forward who could score a little and defend a lot. As recently as Dec. 16, James Edwards reported in The Athletic: “One player I’m hearing that the Pistons are interested in, as is the rest of the league, is Toronto’s OG Anunoby. However, it’s possible Detroit will wait to see if it can land Anunoby in the open market next summer ...”

Well, next summer is almost certainly not on the table, as the Knicks wouldn’t have made this deal if they weren’t going to do everything it took to get Anunoby to agree to an extension after the season.

So what is the slightly superior deal the Pistons could have offered? I think the deal starts with Jaden Ivey. He’s not a clear Day 1 contributor like either Quickley or Barrett, but he’s on the right timeline, would be cost-controlled through his next deal, and has a higher upside than either player. Those all seemed to be the touchstones for getting a deal done with the Raptors.

Barrett is under contract, but not on an insignificant number, and I’m not sure that deal will look great in a year or two, even as the cap continues to rise. Quickley is also about to get extremely expensive, and it was clear both franchises felt more comfortable investing in the long-term future of the other team’s players.

What else would the Pistons have needed to include? The Raptors could have maybe viewed Marcus Sasser as a poor man’s unseasoned Quickley, a dangerous scoring guard worth adding to the core around Scottie Barnes. After that, the Pistons could have offered a veteran with some resale value — Bojan Bogdanovic if Toronto wanted to send out Chris Boucher (and maybe be the team sending out second-round compensation for the trouble) or Alec Burks if they wanted to put him in a better scoring environment and flip him for a lesser haul at the deadline.

Would you have said yes to a Bogdanovic-Ivey deal for an Anunoby-Boucher return? Would Toronto have said yes?

We will never know, of course, because Troy Weaver did not swing the trade, and those promised changes have not yet arrived in Detroit.

Would it have been worth it for Anunoby, who is nobody’s idea of a primary scoring option? He’s a premier defensive win who can shoot capably from 3 (37% for his career), and can play either guard spot. He could have been a good veteran to tether to the burgeoning development of Ausar Thompson, and whose perimeter defense would have greatly helped Cade Cunningham. He’s also likely going to cost north of $200 million on his next deal, and that’s a lot to pay for a relatively low-usage player who can’t really create for himself or others.

What do you think, Pistons fans? Should Weaver have swung a deal? Does this mean it is inevitable that the Pistons sign Pascal Siakim in free agency since he will be the only difference-making wing on the open market? Will Detroit panic trade for him first, giving up assets to assure they could offer the 30-year-old an extra year? How horrified are you of the future?