The impressive offseason maneuvers of the Detroit Pistons continue to be the talk of the NBA. The restoration took a major step of momentum with its execution during the 2022 NBA Draft. As free agency looms just a few days away, general manager Troy Weaver has already begun his next steps.
Tuesday night featured another surprising three-team trade between Detroit, the Charlotte Hornets, and the New York Knicks.
The Pistons acquired guard Alec Burks and center Nerlens Noel from New York. Two second-round picks and $9 million are also being sent to the Pistons in the acquisition. This comes off the heels of the pending trade from the draft in which Detroit scooped up veteran guard Kemba Walker and the draft rights to No. 13 pick Jalen Duren.
New York has been unloading cap space in hopes of signing free-agent guard Jalen Brunson. Detroit has wasted no time and is taking full advantage of the Knicks' desperation.
Burks and Noel make for perfect compliments to this roster. These two add instant scoring and defensive improvements to the bench. Burks is a savvy guard who can create his own shot and serve as a spot-up shooter.
Averaging under 12 points per game last season while shooting 40% from the field and 41% as a catch-and-shoot option confirms his versatility. Pistons fans should be somewhat familiar after Burks put up a 34-clinic last December at Little Caesars Arena.
Noel can also bring serviceable depth to the rotation. Shot blocking is his best attribute while healthy with plenty of length and athleticism to be a plus rebounder as well. With young centers Isaiah Stewart and Duren on the roster already, Noel might be a filler for insurance at the position in case they struggle, land in foul trouble, or get hurt.
Troy Weaver moves always come as stunning as an unexpected Woj bomb. It has been a challenge trying to predict the next building steps for the Pistons when Weaver keeps his plans so close to the chest. Considering these latest acquisitions, he has given us a peek in the direction they want to head in with this franchise.
Here's what could be on the horizon for the Pistons' near and distant future; Trimming a Crowded Roster?
Detroit brought in last season with a frontcourt rotation featuring Isaiah Stewart, Kelly Olynyk, Trey Lyles, and Luka Garza. They each offered unique skillsets, but it exposed major necessities for the Pistons to become bigger and more athletic at the rim. As the roster sits at this moment, Troy Weaver has helped turn the frontcourt depth from a weakness to a strength.
The Detroit Pistons are also expected to resign forward Marvin Bagley this week. A $7.2 million qualifying offer was tendered on Tuesday, making him a restricted free agent and confirming their plan to bring him back. Bagley's return would mean a filled roster of 15 players.
Detroit has emphasized the ability to acquire versatile talent and flexible contracts. However, adding that from the New York trade adds some mystery to the next moving pieces. The Pistons currently have three centers who could see quality minutes this season in Stewart, Duren, and Noel. Bagley and Olynyk round out the frontcourt at the power forward position.
Shooting and floor spacing is still a mandatory concern for this team. None of the centers are consistent knock-down shooters. Olynyk has been a reliable 3-point shooter as a lifetime 37% shooter.
However, he is aging outside Detroit's timeline at 31 years old, along with quite a few battled injuries lately, limiting his production. Unless catch-and-shoot specialist Isaiah Livers sees some time as a stretch-four, the Pistons still could use a fitting boost at power forward.
Detroit is also looking at a logjam of guards as well, especially when looking at the bench. Starters and hopeful cornerstones Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey are without question untouchable in trade discussions. Do not expect 6th man Killian Hayes to be a part of roster movement at this point either.
Given the value of these three guards, that leaves flexible options with veterans Cory Joseph, Kemba Walker, and Hamidou Diallo. It's already expected that Detroit will complete a buyout of the $9 million left on Walker's contract making him a free agent. Joseph could see his way out of the rotation based on the franchise's rebuilding timeline, and Diallo only offers so much as a slasher and off-ball player.
Another trade could very much be in the cards for the Pistons this week. Noel has a team option after next season, making him a likely candidate to be traded. Olynyk is the best shooter of the mentioned frontcourt players meaning he could remain in Detroit another season. Stewart is a long-shot to be dealt with as well, but you never know with the Pistons dealing this aggressively for the future.
The Detroit Pistons are unlikely to sign a player to a max deal.
Reports have had Detroit linked as suitors for forward Miles Bridges and center Deandre Ayton all summer. Weaver and the Pistons seem to be content progressing with the plan of another season of developing their young talent.
After rewarded patience and aggression in the NBA Draft, it looks like the Pistons are adding filler talent around their foundation pieces instead of overspending on a big name. At this point, fans might want to temper their hopes of landing one of the big-name free agent fish on the market.
Watching the front office walk the fine line of emphasizing development and putting a bigger target on winning has been impressive. As a rebuilding young team, it's important to be aggressive in the draft before spending big on pricey free agents.
The Detroit Pistons entered free agency with more cap space than any other team in the league. That spending pot was inflated to about $55 million after forward Jerami Grant was dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers. Given the assumption of Marvin Bagley's return this season and the rest of the deals in place, Detroit could be working with roughly $18 million to spend through the rest of free agency.
Adding another shooter and a power forward of the future should still be high on Weaver's radar. They can still apply some of that money to temporary free agents like veterans Otto Porter Jr. or Bobby Portis. As they bank on their youth to develop, there is no need to rush spending to fill their needs.
There is another bright light for the Pistons where lots of dead money will be falling off their books next season. The deals of Diallo, Joseph, and DeAndre Jordan will be removed after 2022-23. The newly acquired pick-ups of Burks and Noel also have team options after this season creating expendable circumstances for Detroit's cap.
If the new vets underperform this season, the Pistons can say move on to add to their spending options.
These expiring deals can put the Detroit Pistons back in the driver's seat of free agency to potentially land a big free agent next season. It also helps set the team up to pay their young foundation pieces.
Forward Saddiq Bey could be looking at a contract extension as soon as next season if he shines this coming year. Weaver has done a masterful job of preparing for the future, and it's safe to assume he is getting pieces in place to make those necessary moves.