Detroit Pistons: 3 reasons to trade into first round

The Detroit Pistons lost their lottery pick in the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft.  The Cleveland Cavaliers and a 2012 trade blunder can be thanked for that. And now the Pistons find themselves sitting not-so-pretty without a pick until the 38th overall in what many believe is the deepest draft in some time.

No, Detroit could not hope to land the likes of headliners Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, or Jabari Parker at pick No. 8, but Stan Van Gundy could have had his pick of the draft’s second tier of players; a pool that happens to be rather deep this year.

arizona basketball

Aaron Gordon

Found a way to sign-and-trade Greg Monroe? A replacement big man can be found: Vonleh, Randle, Payne, Gordon. Found a way to trade away Josh Smith? His wing position can easily be replaced with better shooters: Stauskas, McDermott, Young, Harris. Able to trade Brandon Jennings? Try a point guard who will actually hustle and play defense: Smart, Ennis, Anderson, Napier, Payton.

You get it.

If your team needs it, the first round’s got it. So shouldn’t the Pistons, who have obvious roster concerns, be looking to get into the first round mix? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a lottery pick even. I think a strong argument can be made that shows Detroit needs to be a part of this first round. Here’s three reasons in support of that argument:

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1. Pending free agents

Greg Monroe is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1, while Rodney Stuckey joins that pool unrestricted.  It’s unlikely that both of them will be back. The void their departures will create — being Monroe’s glass-eating and Stuckey’s ability to put up points off the bench — will need to be filled if the Pistons want to bring it together and be a playoff contender. Plenty of the aforementioned draft prospects (Randle, Gordon, Stauskas, McDermott, etc.) would be able fill the void.

2. Cheap

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Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was selected eighth overall in last year’s draft. He will cost close to $2.8 million in cap space for this coming season. Stuckey’s final year of his contract with the Pistons cost $8.5 million. The latter is 28 and entering his eighth year in the league. The former is 6-foot-5, 21 years old, and started half of the games last season. KCP has already proven to be a quality defender, and if he can translate his three-point shooting into the NBA then the Pistons have got themselves a more-than-capable wing that will cost under $9.5 million for the next three seasons. The NBA rookie scale locks these young guys into four-year deals for a fraction of what they are worth. Having young talent from the draft really frees up cap space to operate in free agency.

3. Desperate times call for…

Desperate measures. Detroit just finished their fifth-straight “rebuilding” year. The team that once made it to six straight Eastern Conference Finals has taken too long to bounce back. Head coach Stan Van Gundy knows that. New GM Jeff Bower knows that. Tom Gores, who is entering his fourth year as owner, knows that. Detroit fans are tired of waiting for this team to return to relevancy when they clearly have the talent to do so. A pick in the first round of this year’s draft will expedite, possibly even finish, this rebuilding project.

Know that Van Gundy, Bower and Gores are going to do their research and weigh all possible options in these three weeks before the draft. The phones are going to be active and Detroit should be looking to find their way into the first round. The draft takes place on Thursday, June 26.

  • Otis

    I agree with the premise, but you’ve got some real problems here. For one thing, it’s kind of a silly exercise to boil it down to these three points. Obviously the Pistons have tremendous roster problems, and obviously first round rookie contracts have excellent value. There’s probably a better way to structure your argument.

    Also there are some details where you hurt your authority as a writer, such as incorrectly describing Stuckey as a restricted free agent (He is unrestricted.) and saying the team’s overhaul “concluded” with the Chauncey Billups trade. That was the very start of this dreadful, ill-fated overhaul, not the conclusion of it.

    Lastly, while in theory it’s clear that this team would greatly benefit from trading into the first round, you haven’t outlined any potential trade scenarios. This team has very, very little in the way of trade chips, and it’s difficult to imagine any way they could manage to wrestle away anyone’s first rounder. The way I see it, they just don’t have the assets to get anything done. If they had the brains to trade Monroe before he hit free agency, that would have gotten it done, but they had no brains at all.

    • David Topham

      Hello Otis, thanks for reading! Yes, I know there are many more than 3 reasons, but I am just trying to shed some light on how potentially costly this Ben Gordon trade can become in hindsight. No, I didn’t outline any specific trade scenarios and I am aware that we have few assets to trade. I did, however, mention Monroe, Smith and Jennings, who are our most tradable assets, as guys the Pistons would most likely be shopping if they are trying to find their way into the first round.

      • Otis

        Believe me I wanted to throw up the second I read about the Ben Gordon trade. There was never much upside to the deal, and the potential for disaster looked tremendous from the jump.

        As for potential trades, Monroe can’t be traded because he isn’t under contract. Hence my earlier remark about what a nightmare it was that this organization was foolish enough to let him hit free agency. After the February trade deadline passed, the next time anyone can discuss a contract with him is July 1st, five days after the draft. And Monroe needs to consent to any sign-and-trade, so we’re absolutely crippled in terms of options for making a trade work. It is a total nightmare.

        Also, Jennings and Smith are liabilities, not assets. Maybe we can trade one of them for an even worse contract attached to a draft pick, but the value for both of those guys is about as low as it’s ever been, and absolutely nobody is going to be knocking down our door to take them off our hands. It’s possible that SVG can rehabilitate their value after coaching them for a while, but just like Monroe, that doesn’t do us any good in terms of trading into the first round. Unless we take on a very bad contract, I just don’t see this happening.

        I hope this is taken as helpful, constructive criticism.