The hottest name on the NBA trade market with the trade deadline a week away is OG Anunoby. There are rumors the 25-year-old forward currently playing for the struggling Toronto Raptors could fetch as many as three first-round picks.
The strongest named suitors have been the New York Knicks and the Phoenix Suns. But our good friend Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports that Toronto might be less interested in far-flung picks and more interested in young, cost-controlled players they can put on the floor alongside Scottie Barnes as it looks to create a new nucleus of competitive talent.
You might be asking what any of this has to do with the Detroit Pistons. Well, the Pistons can’t actually offer future draft picks, but they could offer existing young players. Anunoby is also the exact type of young but seasoned, defensive-minded player Detroit needs to get this long-term rebuild over the hump.
To be clear, that doesn’t mean the Raptors are at all interested in what Detroit has to offer, or that Detroit is even entertaining cashing in the amount of young talent it would require to get Toronto to take an offer seriously — namely, Jaden Ivey or Jalen Duren plus all three of Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Killian Hayes.
I just want to put that out there to whet the appetites and get Pistons’ fans gears going because, frankly, back in the real world it’s likely going to be an extremely quiet deadline for the Pistons.
Detroit was supposed to have one of the league’s most attractive trade chips in Bojan Bogdanovic. While the forward is having a career year on offense and generating plenty of interest, Detroit has said for months that they weren’t looking to move him, and that it would take a monster offer to get them to pull the trigger. It seems that teams are finally taking that seriously.
It’s gotten to the point where one league source told NBA reporter Marc Stein:
I was certainly among those who thought it was posturing when Detroit’s reluctance to trade Bogdanović began to surface many weeks ago, but one league source went so far as asserting this week that the Pistons would refuse to surrender Bogdanović even if offered that fully unprotected future first-round pick that everyone says Detroit covets. Only seven days to go before we know for sure if the Pistons’ stance was sincere or a negotiating ploy.
Does that mean holding onto a quality veteran like Bogdonovic it’s a good idea, or is it a dereliction of team rebuild duty? The question has sharply divided Pistons fans. On the one hand, you can’t just recycle competent players for future assets that might or might not pan out. Eventually, you need a solid base of talent and for your young players to keep growing.
The loss of Jerami Grant has been acute, and shipping out Bogdanovic would make the offense about as unwatchable as ... well, the team’s defense, if we’re being honest.
On the other hand, Bogdanovic is on the team, is having a career year, and the Pistons are still statistically the worst team in the NBA. How can a player so integral to this franchise winning in the near future lead to so few wins in the present? Bogdanovic certainly isn’t helping cure this team’s defensive woes, and he’s already 33 years old and if this team isn’t actually competitive next season, what is he sticking around for?
Next season is THE year Troy Weaver has always talked about, though. He seems to have a long-term plan in place, and while it hasn’t quite come into focus to outsiders yet, I have to imagine he knows exactly what he wants to do with that $40 million war chest he’s amassed.
It could be free agent signings or trades, and I think it is a fairly open question what would be more attractive in a potential trade — Bojan and his shooting and $20 million salary, or is it the draft assets you could flip him for now?
We’ll cross that bridge later on, I suppose, but as far as this deadline is concerned, I don’t see Bogdanovic going anywhere.
The Pistons have similarly voiced a desire to keep Alec Burks around past this season, with some reporting indicating they would also entertain extending him beyond his team option next season.
Burks is an attractive asset because he plays good enough defense, is a really good perimeter shooter, and could fit onto just about any team’s playoff rotation. He also makes an extremely reasonable $10 million with a team option for $10.4 next season.
Of any Pistons player reasonably thought to be obtainable, I have the most confidence (>99%) that he’s staying in Detroit.
The bloom is a bit off the rose with third-year forward Bey. However, the progression of young players is not always linear so while he has struggled recently, he’s by no means a finished product. When he was moved to the bench earlier this season trade chatter on Bey picked up steam, but I don’t think he’ll be shipped out by the deadline. There are reports Saddiq has attracted interest from multiple clubs including the Miami Heat and New York Knicks.
Bey is from Troy Weaver’s first draft class, and he seems to fit the kind of player Weaver likes. He hasn’t developed as much as hoped, certainly not on the defensive end, but I don’t think they’re ready to ship Bey out in anything other than a consolidation trade where several young pieces are traded for an established player.
It appears the Pistons and Noel have a mutual understanding on the big man being a part-time player when needed and otherwise not factored into the regular rotation or the plans going forward. That means Noel is the most likely Piston to be traded, but its not like he’s put a bunch of positive film together that make a deal inevitable. A team could decide they’d love to have Noel for the low-low price of a second-round pick, but that same team would also need to have about $9 million in expiring contracts on hand to make it worth Detroit’s time.
Noel has a team option for next season, and that in and of itself is an attractive bit of trade bait. If Noel is not traded at the deadline, he could be bought out to catch on somewhere else—several contenders would be suitors, I’m sure— but there are rumblings Detroit would not be eager to buy him out because he could be used in a future deal.
His guarantee date is 6/29/23, which means Detroit could swing a deal to a team looking to open up salary cap space on the eve of free agency.
The Pistons don’t currently have any hope of making the playoffs, and DraftKings doesn’t appear to have odds aligned with who will be in or win the upcoming NBA Draft Lottery. As of eight days ago, they did have some prop bets surrounding the player most likely to be traded. Bogdanovic was sitting at -200 at the time with Alec Burks at +120, Saddiq Bey at +160, and Marvin Bagley at +250 for some reason.
As we well know and are mentally preparing ourselves for, the Pistons are unlikely to move any of those players. Of course, Troy Weaver is a man who likes to be aggressive when you’re not expecting it, and I’m not sure he’s wedded to any players, including those he drafted himself
I expect a quiet deadline, and we’ll find out in one week whether I will be forced to eat my words.