Detroit Pistons: Despite Quiet Free Agency Troy Weaver’s Made His Mark

General manager Troy Weaver and the Detroit Pistons seemed to do most of their work ahead of free agency.

There is a reason we the fans have nicknamed Weaver “Trader Troy” or “The Dream Weaver.”  Detroit’s GM is a mastermind when it comes to making trades. Being active on the trade market is imperative for an organization like the Pistons because Detroit is not exactly considered to be a destination for big-name free agents.

I wouldn’t call Detroit a ‘small-market’ organization, but they are certainly not the Lakers, Clippers, Celtics, or Heat. Knowing this, the best way the Pistons can improve their roster is via trade and through the NBA draft.

Just hours ahead of the NBA Draft, Weaver pulled the trigger on a long-awaited deal sending forward Jerami Grant to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for primarily a 2025 first-round pick. At the time, this seemed like a very underwhelming return for a player of Grant’s caliber. Plus, over the winter, rumors surfaced that Detroit could potentially secure a top-12 pick for Grant’s services. With Portland in ‘win-now’ mode, the no. 7 overall pick was potentially in play.

‘Trader’ Troy Weaver has put the Detroit Pistons in a great position moving forward.

Well, as it turned out, the genius Weaver did turn trading Grant into the no. 13 pick via Charlotte. It just took some scheming. Weaver knew that the New York Knicks had eyes on guard, Jalen Brunson, and needed to shed salary.

Detroit elected to take on Kemba Walker’s contract, in doing so, would send the 2025 first-round pick from Portland to the Big Apple. In return, the Pistons secured the draft rights to center Jalen Duren. To make this work, the Charlotte Hornets landed a 2023 first-round pick from Denver via Oklahoma City and New York. The Hornets also received four future second-round picks, three coming next season. The Detroit Pistons then agreed to buy out the final year of Walker’s deal.

Weaver then followed up this deal by landing sharpshooter Alec Burks, backup center Nerlens Noel, and two second-round picks from the Knicks, giving up nothing in exchange. The Knicks later signed Brunson to a massive four-year $104 million deal. Burks, in particular, fills a crucial need for Detroit heading into next season. The Pistons desperately needed to add a spot-up three-point shooter who could cash in on a defense collapsing to the slashing guard play of Cunningham and rookie Jaden Ivey.

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The Detroit Pistons remain quiet in Free Agency.

Detroit has been quiet in free agency, only adding another reclamation project in Kevin Knox. Knox, 22, signed a two-year deal worth $6 million. Weaver also resigned Marvin Bagley III to a three-year deal worth $37 million. Bagley, who quickly built chemistry with star guard Cade Cunningham will work a ton at the four in 2022-23. There had been a few second-tier players I had hoped the Pistons targeted in free agency, but all have since signed elsewhere.

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I felt like Bobby Portis would be a nice fit for the Detroit Pistons. Detroit had an immediate need for a big that could stretch the floor but also help on the defensive end and clean the glass. Kelly Olynyk can stretch the floor but is a below-average defender and rebounder. Portis elected to re-sign in Milwaukee, earning a four-year deal worth $49 million. Portis shot 39.3% from beyond the arc last season while averaging 14.6 points and 9.1 boards over 28.2 minutes playing alongside the sensational Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Two additional players that Detroit had rumored to be interested in were Malik Monk and Victor Oladipo.  Monk signed a two-year deal worth $19 million to join the Kings. Oladipo rejoins the Heat on a one-year deal totaling $11 million. Monk, 23, shot nearly 40% from three last season, averaging 13.8 points for the dysfunctional Lakers.

Last but not least, two other players that seemed like they’d be able to help the Pistons heading into next season were forward Otto Porter Jr. and former Michigan State guard Gary Harris. Porter Jr. signed a two-year deal with Toronto. He averaged 8.2 points last season with Golden State and provided the Warriors with some stout defense. Porter also averages near 40% from beyond the arc over his career.

Harris, more of a catch-and-shoot guard, signed a lucrative two-year deal worth $26 million in Orlando. Harris shot 38.4% from three last season while averaging just over 11 points per game.

Although the Pistons have been quiet in free agency, I wouldn’t rule out Weaver making another trade. Kelly Olynyk or the newly acquired Nerlens Noel may find themselves expendable over the next few weeks.

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