Waves of optimism have been building around the Detroit Pistons over the past few years. From the fanbase, the media, or even players around the league, the faith is without question on the rise for the Motor City, but the organization needs to avoid Kevin Durant at all costs.
The much-needed foundation of this basketball team is being constructed beautifully. In recent years, the only hope the Pistons had built was through the players. During the beginning of this restoration period, the players, coaching staff, and the front office all seem to be hitting the stride of growth simultaneously.
General manager Troy Weaver has laid out a clear plan on how this franchise should be put together. Detroit has shed horrible contracts in years past and drafted promising talent that is currently gelling together.
With that development of budding optimism normally comes the thrill of taking risks. Even when some risks seem like a reasonable gamble, it’s imperative to analyze every detail when roster building in the NBA.
Weaver has shown the competence to not fall for compromising bait, so this message is mainly for the fans. Do not fall for the allure of the trade request by Kevin Durant.
Durant requested a trade with the team today, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/BkNEHwkrc0
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2022
After an underwhelming three seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, the superstar forward issued a trade request from the team today. Brooklyn seemed to have the next super team in place with acquired talent like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden in place to make a run for a title.
Their tenure certainly encountered lots of bad luck like injuries and an unpredictable pandemic changing the course of the world. However, this team implosion is self-inflicted, and a lot of it starts with their 7′ forward.
The way Durant and Irving joined the Nets in 2019 free agency was a red flag. The stars decided as a pair to sign with Brooklyn without even meeting with the front office first. Acquiring and keeping them also took unloading young talent like center Jarrett Allen and guard Caris Levert, who was ascending at the time. Brooklyn canned their building plans for the future to go all-in on a title run right away.
That would be a needed compromise to bring Kevin Durant to Detroit. Weaver has done a masterful job finessing NBA trades in the league, but that wouldn’t fly for a superstar on the market. Bringing in Durant would require dealing with one or some of the promising young players, veterans, and future assets to match his value and expensive contract.
Adding a star-like Durant makes sense for teams ready to contend for titles now. Contenders can afford to trade their capital because they already have their foundation set. Detroit is not in that position, coming off a 23-59 record last season. Durant is a generational talent, but he certainly doesn’t make the Pistons instant title contenders.
Even if that were the case, how long would that contention last? Durant has shown limited patience throughout his career with teams dealing with adversity.
The postseason shortcoming with the Oklahoma City Thunder had him en route to previous rivals in the Golden State Warriors. After butting heads with forward Draymond Green and battling injuries, Durant moved on to a new journey by joining Irving to play for the Nets. As the offseason and free agency period is ramping up, are we not seeing history repeat itself again with this trade request?
The current landscape of the league is changing, and the Pistons are one of the teams leading the charge. Some of the most successful teams in the NBA established themselves with the patience and development of their players. The Warriors’ success has remained for so long because they were able to draft correctly and build around their foundation accordingly.
You are seeing that same pattern in rising teams like the Memphis Grizzlies, Boston Celtics, New Orleans Pelicans, Toronto Raptors, and even the Pistons. The record may not show it, but Detroit’s young core of Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey, and Jalen Duren has the league paying attention for a reason.
Instantly built super teams have had their championship moments since the Miami Heat big three with superstars Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh joining forces in 2010. Even with winning their titles, they only played together for four seasons and didn’t come close to Lebron’s wild prediction of winning at least seven titles.
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Nets are dealing with the same issue right now. Blowing up your roster for an instant championship only seems worth it if you maintain consistent success. The Lakers won their last title in 2020 but haven’t kept that same championship form in the past two seasons. They’ve battled numerous injuries, fired their coach last season, dealt with instability in the front office, and are struggling with cap space along with an aging roster of players that don’t fit.
The Lakers at least have a championship to show for their risk. Brooklyn can’t say the same, as they’ve only gotten to the second round of the playoffs two seasons ago, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks. Trading for other controversial stars like Harden and forward Ben Simmons didn’t boost them as contenders at all. They just took on more expensive contracts and created more friction within the organization.
Another intriguing draw to possibly trading for Kevin Durant is his relationship with Cunningham. It’s been well-publicized since the 2021 NBA draft that the two have a big brother-little brother kind of bond. Durant spent much time raving about Cunningham’s development after some tough battles with the Pistons last season.
Kevin Durant has never been the type to hide or be shy about his admiration for other players, including former teammates. The Thunder had an elite one-two punch with Durant and guard Russell Westbrook, where they seemed very close together. That same kind of relationship was also displayed during his time in Golden State with Steph Curry and in Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving. He spent lots of energy defending those teammates to the media and the rest of the world whenever criticism was brought their way.
While those relationships seemed secure during their time on the court, they all fizzled out in a dramatic fashion. Durant has never really been the model of leadership with his teams either. Is that a risk you want to bring forth to a young team with a star on the rise like their First Team All-Rookie point guard?
Cunningham also has shown his ability to shoulder the responsibility of leadership, even as a rookie. He grew comfortable as the floor general as last season progressed, displaying his vocal skills and the ability to uplift his team. Given those signs of early signs of leadership, Detroit should be comfortable letting Cunningham continue his role as the captain of this ball club.
The front office has already shown the capability of not being pressured into falling for enticing risks. They seemingly almost committed to possibly two this offseason, with rumors keeping them linked as suitors for free agents Deandre Ayton and Miles Bridges. Even as a superstar, Durant is an even bigger risk at 33 years old with his injury concerns and very unpredictable nature.
Pistons fans, please let the thought of trading for Kevin Durant pass through your mind quickly. This team is on the right path to developing a sustainable product over the next decade. An immediate gamble of throwing in a superstar like Durant will not bring the success you think. Sit back and remain patient as this franchise continues to establish itself among the league correctly.