Detroit Pistons: 5 Potential Trade Targets
The Detroit Pistons are a pretty easy team to figure out.
They have a very good big man who is capable of a double-double, a very explosive young guard in Brandon Knight and a high-energy guy in Jonas Jerebko.
They don't have a lot of athleticism amongst their swing men, a strong interior defense, or depth up front.
Their perimeter defense does not lack for effort, just for talent. This makes defending aggressive, and attacking guards a daily challenge.
If I were an opposing coach, I would do two things to prepare my team for Detroit.
First, I would attack Greg Monroe on the offensive end every time down the court and force him into foul trouble. Without Monroe, this team appears lost.
Second, I would encourage my guards to run in transition and attack the lane. The Pistons don't appear to be able to stop penetration, and their lack of athleticism makes their transition defense laughable.
As I have said on many occasions, this is an incomplete roster. They have some talent, but they are still a few players away from being playoff contenders.
So what is to be done?
There are two conflicting theories on this team.
The first theory is that this team is built purposely to fail, ensuring that the team gets a high lottery pick in what is sure to be an incredibly deep draft this summer.
The second theory is that team president Joe Dumars really thinks his team in on the right path, and is currently exploring deals to make his team more competitive.
The argument against the first theory can be seen in how hard this team is playing. Sure, they are routinely getting their butts kicked, but it is not for a lack of effort.
Dumars needs to be applauded for bringing in some players that exude professionalism after last year's disaster.
Dumars deserves a ton of blame, and I will get to that. But bringing in guys like Jonas Jerebko, Monroe, Knight and Damien Wilkins points to a renewed commitment to professional, hard-working basketball of which Detroit can be proud.
This leads to the second theory. Dumars moves this off-season poke a few holes in this notion, but a recent three-team trade involving Marresse Speights points to this theory having some legs to it.
Sure, the Pistons did not land the big man, but according to Detroit Free Press reporter Vince Ellis, Detroit had discussions involving Speights.
According to Ellis, the Pistons did not want to include draft picks and Philadelphia didn't want players back.
This points to both theories being somewhat sound. Dumars wants to stockpile draft picks for this year's draft, but he also wants to add to his current team.
With that being said, here are a few players that Detroit should target before the trade deadline.
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Three things are clear.
One, DeMarcus Cousins wants out of Sacramento.
Two, Dumars loves Cousins.
Three, Sacramento does not want to deal Cousins, according to the Washington Post.
Something has to give, and I am betting that Cousins will be dealt before the end of the year.
True, they just sacked the coach that Cousins was feuding with, for the moment appeasing their troubled big man.
It is also true that Cousins could still change his mind depending on his relationship with the new coach. But it appears that Cousins needs a franchise to stop appeasing him, and start to help him grow up.
The proposition of this player coming to Detroit is what Dumars lives for. He loves to get the mercurial talents that are supposed to be team killers.
Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't. But don't think for a minute that Dumars is done looking at Cousins.
Sacramento would no doubt want draft picks and talent, two things the Pistons won't want to deal. They could offer a lottery protected pick or two for Cousins, or they could include future picks in order to avoid losing out on this summer's bonanza.
But it would likely cost them at least one of their young talented players, although Monroe and Brandon Knight are likely off limits.
Since Stuckey, Jerebko and Prince all signed deals this season, they would not be able to be included into a deal until March. Since this would coincide with the trade deadline, they could be included down the road.
Cousins, if he behaves himself, would immediately make the Pistons a better team. He is physical, athletic, and would be a perfect fit with Monroe on both the defensive and offensive ends.
This is still a long shot, but not ridiculously so. I would put the odds of Cousins landing in Detroit at about 25 percent.
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Tyrus Thomas has been somewhat of a disappointment since being drafted No. 4 overall five years ago.
He has failed to really find his niche in the league, but he still has youth on his side, as well as great size and athleticism.
All these things make him a perfect candidate for Dumars.
He loves former lottery picks that are viewed by the league as busts.
The Pistons have a huge need up front, and Thomas would surely help on both ends of the court.
Thomas' contract is not ideal, as he still has three years and $25 million left on his deal.
However, if Detroit can include either Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon or Charlie Villanueva in this deal, it would surely lighten their own monetary load.
I put the chances that Thomas ends up in Detroit around 20 percent.
Al Jefferson/Paul Millsap
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The Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz are two teams that are incompletely built.
Detroit lacks size up front, while Utah lacks swing men.
Utah currently has four very talented, very young big men playing two positions. Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors are all competing with one another for minutes in a very deep front court.
Favors and Kanter are likely staying in Utah. They are very young, talented and cheap.
This leaves Millsap and Jefferson. Both have pretty big contracts, but both deals run out after next year when they both become unrestricted free agents.
Eventually, one of these two will be dealt.
Millsap is the cheaper of the two, and, in turn, the less valuable as well. He is somewhat undersized for a power forward, going 6'8" and 250 pounds. But he is a fierce rebounder and interior presence. In a lot of ways, he is a more athletic, younger version of Jason Maxiell.
Jefferson is really big (6'10, 280 pounds) and is a nightly double-double threat.
He also is very expensive, tipping the scales at an average of $14.5 million between this year and next.
He also has had a history of injuries, although none serious.
Of the two, Jefferson probably fits Detroit better. He would play center, allowing Monroe to shift to power forward. He also would provide Detroit with an interior shot-blocking presence, although he is not the most athletic of big men.
Utah would probably try to get Knight in a deal, but could potentially settle for a package of Austin Daye, Gordon or Stuckey and draft picks. This also depends on how quickly rookie guard Alec Burks develops, something that so far has been stunted by Raja Bell's current starting role.
The probability that one of these two is dealt is probably 60 to 80 percent, but the only question is whether Detroit has enough to offer. Here's hoping that Daye, Gordon and Stuckey improve their trade stock before the deadline.
Chances of one of these two landing in Detroit is probably around 20 percent.
Chris Kaman/Emeka Okafor
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New Orleans is a franchise in deep trouble. They had to jettison their only star before the season began, and they are currently being run by the league.
They have a roster that is fairly deep up front, but they have huge question marks at guard. Eric Gordon is immensely talented, but is he a point guard or an undersized shooting guard?
Kaman, who was part of the Chris Paul trade, is a free agent after this season. Okafor still has two more years at an average of $15 million per season.
These two are both 29 and have similar games. They are physical post players, both of whom would be a valuable addition to the Pistons.
New Orleans probably would love to trade both of them, although the market will be better for Kaman considering his contract status.
Perhaps Detroit will wait until the offseason to go after Kaman, but if they bring him in before then they will be in a better position to sign him to an extension. If they could manage to get rid of a bad contract or two in the process, all the better.
However, New Orleans is trying to trim salary, not add, so Kaman might be tough to get without draft picks.
An Okafor deal would allow Detroit to deal Stuckey or Gordon as their contracts are not as bad as Okafor's, and would each help New Orleans.
The chance of either landing in Detroit is probably around 10 percent.
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I know, I know. The Pistons most glaring need is up front. I will certainly agree to that.
However, the Pistons also need to address their point guard situation. Is Brandon Knight the future at point guard or shooting guard?
Right now, it is too soon to tell.
And while the Pistons certainly will have a lot of options at power forward and center in this year's draft, this is not an overly deep point guard class.
Charlotte is not sold on Augustin, or else they wouldn't have drafted Kemba Walker.
Augustin, who is a restricted free agent next year, could elicit some serious offers this summer, offers that Charlotte might not be likely to match.
So why not deal him now and get something for him rather than potentially letting him walk for nothing next year.
So what would it take to get him?
Charlotte could definitely use another guard or small forward as they have questionable depth at both spots. Perhaps Detroit could get a package of Tyrus Thomas and Augustin for Daye, Stuckey and a draft pick.
However, if Charlotte decides to deal Augustin, there will likely be better offers out there than what the Pistons can offer. I put the chances of him landing in Detroit at around 5 percent.