There is reportedly mutual interest between the Detroit Pistons and restricted free agent Deandre Ayton, according to NBA reporter Marc Stein.
Not only are the Pistons "widely expected" to make Ayton a priority in free agency, but Stein added the center "would indeed embrace the concept of teaming with Cade Cunningham to form a new Pistons two-man core."
Detroit cleared cap space by trading Jerami Grant to the Portland Trail Blazers for a 2025 first-round pick, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, and are ready to build around 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham.
The team also holds the No. 5 overall pick in Thursday's draft, which could land another impact player like Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Bennedict Mathurin or Shaedon Sharpe.
Ayton would be an even bigger boost after averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in 2021-22, playing a key two-way role for the Phoenix Suns as they posted the best record in the NBA (64-18).
Though Phoenix can match any offer for the 2018 No. 1 overall pick, the team already declined to offer him a max contract before last season.
With high salaries for Devin Booker ($33.8 million), Chris Paul ($28.4 million) and Mikal Bridges ($21 million), the Suns might decide not to match for Ayton if the Pistons come through with a high enough offer.
It could allow the Pistons—which haven't won a playoff series since 2008—to build around multiple high-upside players in Ayton, Cunningham and a top rookie. With other impact players like Saddiq Bey, Hamidou Diallo and Isaiah Stewart on the roster, the squad could be taking a big step toward playoff contention.