As the calendar shifts from December to January and with the Feb. 8 trade deadline just over a month away, we have officially entered slop season. The rumors, reports, and multi-sourced primers will be coming in a deluge for the next 30 days.
Today, there are a bevy of reports on some familiar names and teams, including the Detroit Pistons and a connection to impending free agent forward Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors. That comes via Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer.
The Raptors, it seems, are thought to be exploring the trade market for the veteran after already dealing OG Anunoby and yet again being mired in a disappointing season. The Pistons, meanwhile, have perhaps the league’s biggest need at power forward, and its been reported a number of times by The Athletic’s James Edwards and others that Siakam is viewed as a potential candidate to fill that hole this offseason wth the Pistons having a huge chunk of salary cap space to spend.
The report comes from Yahoo’s Jake Fischer, who specializes in aggregating and synthesizing what he is hearing from a multitude of league sources and sending it through the rumor mill.
But the chatter among NBA executives surrounding Siakam’s potential landing spots has now centered on Indiana, Sacramento and Detroit. Yes, the Pistons keep signaling to opposing executives an interest in buying, sources said, instead of selling off veterans from the league’s lowest team. Other teams mentioned, such as Dallas and Philadelphia, don’t appear as viable destinations at this juncture, although Toronto officials have suggested to inquiring front offices as many as 10 teams hold legitimate interest in Siakam, sources said.
As always, it is crucially important to pay attention to the wording of these rumors, because while I believe Fischer has sources throughout the NBA, I also think you can always gauge the viability of that reporting based on the attribution. He is also careful to only say what he has heard and doesn’t take any speculative leaps — though it doesn’t hurt that readers and aggregators are all too happy to connect their own dots, get angry/excited and drive up traffic.
OK. In this instance, the sources connecting Siakam to Detroit is “chatter among NBA executives.” That is nearly the lowest on the totem pole of sourced reports. Look, the folks who work for teams and chat with reporters are people just like the rest of us. They look at Detroit’s roster, they look at Tom Gores’ comment that change is coming, and they have heard of the previous Siakam interest. There is a certain logic to the Pistons pursuing Pascal, and it only becomes more likely the more desperate you think the Pistons are.
None of it means it is true nor that it is likely to happen.
Second, Fischer writes that the Pistons are “signaling to opposing executives an interest in buying ... instead of selling off veterans.” That is likely entirely true ... or at least half true. I think that it is perfectly appropriate to deem Detroit buyers at the deadline in the sense that they are more interested in adding players than they are in trading for draft picks.
I wonder if “instead of selling off veterans” goes a bit too far, though. Everything we’ve heard from Gores and Weaver indicates a remaining commitment to the Pistons core players of Cade Cunningham, Jalen Duren, Ausar Thopmson, and Jaden Ivey.
The Pistons could sell off veterans — both talented and expiring salary fodder — to other teams in exchange for players on long-term deals or unused pieces that fit better.
Lastly, I think it makes sense to logically examine if the Pistons would even be a good trade partner for Toronto. The Anunoby trade indicates they are ready to retool around Scottie Barnes, but that they are also a team interested in established players and not draft picks.
The Raps traded for the right to soon pay Immanuel Quickley a very large contract, and the already large contract of the young RJ Barrett, who I’m sure they are hoping can rebound with a fresh start.
The Pistons don’t have those kind of players. Detroit’s young core is either not on the table or not nearly as established as reliable contributors, and Detroit’s veterans don’t seem to fit the Raptors’ timeline at all. So how would a deal even come together?
The Fischer trade slop piece, incidentally, also mentions that the Knicks could be interested in “Tom Thibodeau favorite” Alec Burks as they look for some back-court depth after dealing Quickley and Barrett.
The Knicks surely wouldn’t return Detroit’s first-round pick to Detroit for Burks, but there’s a chance to get some real value from the Knicks if they truly covet his services.
Other players Fischer indicates are available or that teams are at least testing the market on include Dejounte Murray in Atlanta, Harrison Barnes and Kevin Huerter in Sacramento, and Kyle Kuzma of the Washington Wizards.