The Detroit Pistons front office finally made a helpful move that could lead to future improvement.
The Detroit Pistons are reportedly completing a deal to trade Marvin Bagley III, Isaiah Livers, and two second-round picks to the Washington Wizards for Danilo Gallinari and Mike Muscala per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. This move comes as a response to Detroit’s historic 3-36 regular season start.
Things were supposed to be lined up for the Pistons to start turning things in a winning direction. The return of their franchise player Cade Cunningham after a season-ending shin injury. Hiring a seasoned head coach with experience in the NBA Finals and developing young talent in Monty Williams. There was expected growth throughout the season from young core pieces like Jalen Duren, Jaden Ivey, and Ausar Thompson.
This regular season has taken many by surprise with the struggle that has gone on for this franchise. Detroit broke the NBA record for most consecutive losses with 28 straight games this season. In December 2023, Tom Gores promised Pistons fans change back in late December 2023.
The front office has finally made a move to hopefully re-direct the franchise momentum positively. Detroit was in an imperative position to create needed change as the team with the worst record in the entire league.
Here are the 3 biggest impacts of the Detroit Pistons’ trade with the Washington Wizards:
- More Cap Flexibility
Through finalizing this trade, Detroit has created about $55-60 million in cap space to add more players by February. The Pistons’ front office has strongly prioritized cap flexibility since taking over the franchise in 2020. While finding some success in the draft, Gores and Troy Weaver have remained patient in addressing free-agent signings.
The Detroit Pistons have focused on adding cap-friendly one-year rental signings to complement their young players. This past offseason, Detroit opted to trade for Joe Harris in June 2023 as well as swapping for Monte Morris. Both players are shooting veterans acquired with one year left on their contract which was supposed to help the short-term growth of the team’s core. Each veteran has dealt with injuries all season and has given minimal production to help the team.
Detroit has had the benefit of cap flexibility over the past couple of seasons but has not opted to make notable signings with it yet. While the front office spoke about the 2023-24 season being an observation year, they also spoke about wanting to play meaningful games as the season progressed. Given the current standing of the franchise, there needs to be a new plan of action to create winning improvement sooner rather than later.
The Detroit Pistons entered last offseason with a major need of adding forwards. They appeared to not even try to use their cap space on free agent forwards last offseason like Cam Johnson, Kyle Kuzma, Harrison Barnes, Kelly Oubre Jr., and others. Considering their still limited depth at forward, time is quickly approaching and the Pistons need to be willing to spend some of that cap space to grow with their young core.
2. More Veterans Added to a Young Roster
Detroit entered the season as one of the youngest teams in the NBA with an average roster age of 25.1. One of the hardest tasks in the league can be learning how to win with such a young and inexperienced roster.
Danilo Gallinari is 35 years old and a 13-year veteran who has played on five different NBA teams, making the Pistons his sixth. Mike Muscala is 32 years old with 10 years of NBA experience between six different teams, which will make the Pistons his seventh team.
Bagley and Livers were still considered inexperienced players looking to find their needed development with the right team. Young teams like the Pistons often need to break down pieces of their young core to add veteran leadership that can help lead to winning. Washington does not have the core talent like Detroit which makes sense in trading for Bagley and Livers for their rebuild.
3. Balancing the Frontcourt Rotation
The Detroit Pistons’ roster had a bad logjam of not only young talent but bigs with repeated skills. Bagley, James Wiseman, Jalen Duren, and Isaiah Stewart all were the most productive for the Pistons in the paint. None of these bigs are routine threats from the perimeter who can consistently create their shots from the outside.
Gallinari is a 38.1% career 3-point shooter who historically can create open looks, and spread the floor. His shooting numbers are down drastically to 31.3% from 3 along with his minutes in the rotation 14.8 as a reserve. He is also coming off an ACL injury which has limited him to an extent throughout the season.
Muscala was not much of a factor in Washington’s rotation as he only averaged 14.1 minutes off the bench. Coach Williams may not opt to use him much considering his skillset and age on this young rebuilding team.
Both players could be used as helpful locker room voices or possibly trade pieces for another move by Weaver. Yahoo Sports reporter Vincent Goodwill reported that a high-ranking source acknowledges this move as a “first step” for the Pistons.