The Pistons' trade of guard Will Bynum to the Boston Celtics for center Joel Anthony on Friday — the first trade of the Stan Van Gundy era — was a case of dealing surplus for need.
Bynum was the longest-tenured Piston, having been with the team since the 2008-09 season, but was caught in a numbers game with guards Brandon Jennings and D.J. Augustin presumably ahead of him on the depth chart.
Bynum averaged 8.7 points and 3.9 assists last season, in 18.8 minutes per game, but his playing time was bound to decline under new coach Van Gundy. His chemistry with Andre Drummond continued in Drummond's second season, as the two connected on numerous alley-oop dunks, but the Pistons' surplus of guards made Bynum expendable.
Bynum's style of play can seem a bit wild and out of control, and he was a dubious candidate to fit onto a stable roster.
He took a circuitous route to the NBA. After being undrafted, then cut by Golden State and Boston, he played overseas and in the D-League before making his way to the Pistons roster in 2008.
Bynum holds the team record for points in a quarter, with a 26-point outburst late in the 2008-09 season against Charlotte that helped a fading Pistons team creep into the postseason.
The trade would seem to indicate the Pistons are ready to go with second-round draft pick Spencer Dinwiddie, who has been recovering from a torn left ACL suffered in January. Dinwiddie went through a full practice recently and appears to be closer to playing in a game, possibly as soon as the final preseason game next Thursday.
Van Gundy sees 6-foot-6 Dinwiddie as primarily a point guard, leaving 6-foot Bynum at a disadvantage competing for minutes with 6-foot Jennings and Augustin.
Bynum's contract will expire after the season.
Anthony will give the Pistons frontcourt depth. Center Aaron Gray missed training camp because of a cardiac episode, and the trade indicates the Pistons don't expect him to contribute any time soon.
Anthony, at 6-foot-9, is an undersized, defensive-minded center who spent five years in Miami before being traded to Boston last season. His $3.8 million contract also expires after the season, and although the Pistons have 16 guaranteed contracts, they plan on keeping him.
With only Greg Monroe and Drummond as healthy centers, and the increasing likelihood they would have four healthy point guards come opening night, the Pistons saw the trade as the right move.
The Pistons might not be done dealing.
They are still one guaranteed contract over the roster limit, and must make some decisions before their opening night roster can be set.
Second-year forward Tony Mitchell and Italian sharpshooter Luigi Datome look to be on the roster bubble, and the Pistons have plenty of cap room, since they didn't fill that space with a long-term contract for Monroe this summer.
Bynum's best season was in 2009-10, when he averaged 10 points and 4.5 assists, providing energy and a burst of scoring to a Pistons team that often lacked both during his time here. Bynum's long road to the NBA made him respected in the locker room, and his voice was often one of reason when things turned chaotic.