2021 NBA Draft Rumors: Rockets, Pelicans, More Talked Trade for Pistons' No. 1 PickJuly 7, 2021
The Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder are reportedly all "making overtures" to the Detroit Pistons about the cost of trading for the first overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft.
ESPN's Jonathan Givony reported Wednesday the talks are at an "early stage," but he noted the Pistons will be "active in exploring the possibility of trading down" heading toward the July 29 event.
Detroit general manager Troy Weaver said he was "ecstatic" about winning the draft lottery last month and explained they hadn't narrowed down the top prospect on their board despite Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham being the presumptive top choice.
"There's about four or five of 'em I felt that way about," Weaver told reporters. "Now we're No. 1, so we get to pick the best one we see fit to move us forward. That's the goal. Whoever we pick, that's the No. 1 goal—to continue to help us restore the Pistons and build this franchise back to where it once was."
He also confirmed a potential trade down would be part of the decision-making process.
"Yes, that's an option," Weaver said.
If the Pistons are intrigued by a handful of prospects atop the class, there's certainly a case to make for trading down and acquiring as many extra assets as possible while they try to rebuild a roster that struggled en route to a 20-52 record this season.
Among the teams linked to a possible deal, the Rockets (No. 2) and Cavs (No. 3) are close behind in the order and would still give Detroit an opportunity to select from the class' mostly consensus top four—USC center Evan Mobley, Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs and G League guard Jalen Green.
The Thunder (No. 6) and Pelicans (No. 10) would likely have to include some young impact players or a large cache of future assets in order to jump all the way to the No. 1 spot. OKC also owns Nos. 16 and 18 in this year's first round.
That said, landing a true franchise cornerstone like Cunningham may be too good to pass up for Detroit in the end. Givony called him the "overwhelming favorite" to end up with the Pistons despite the team's interest in Mobley and Green.
The 6'8", 220-pound guard is an NBA-ready talent who averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.3 threes and 1.6 steals while shooting 40.0 percent from beyond the arc in his only college season.
It's hard to imagine the Pistons passing on the Oklahoma State standout unless the offer includes another top-five pick in this year's draft and a king's ransom of other assets to seriously jump-start their rebuild.