Beard: Trading for Kyrie Irving too risky for Pistons

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

After reports circulated that Kyrie Irving is pressing the Cavaliers for a trade, the NBA rumor mill went into a frenzy with possible destinations.

Irving reportedly had a preferred list of teams where he wanted to go and as the days have passed, the Pistons were mentioned as a potential interested party. It’s an easy guess, given that about 24 other teams — save maybe the Warriors, Rockets, Wizards, Blazers and Raptors — were reportedly entertaining offers for Irving.

Whether Pistons president Stan Van Gundy would be willing to give up a king’s ransom for Irving — reportedly three starters: Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond and Stanley Johnson — for Irving and Tristan Thompson is a bit of a stretch.

Sam Amico of reported Tuesday that if the Cavs can’t strike a deal with the Phoenix Suns — who likely would have to send Eric Bledsoe, Josh Jackson and a first-round pick — then the Pistons could be in play as a destination.

“The Cavs and Pistons have held some talks, and I have heard they did involve Jackson, but those didn’t get very far,” Amico wrote, “…but I doubt the Pistons are willing to part with Drummond or Johnson just yet.

“But you never know. Word is, if the Cavs can’t get something done with the Suns, the Pistons will be among the teams they turn to next.”

More: Pistons mailbag: Harris, Johnson fit as starters

The bigger question is whether the trade even makes sense for either side. Assuming LeBron James is leaving Cleveland next summer in free agency, they’d be in full rebuild mode, with only one year left on Irving’s deal — not an ideal situation.

In the proposed scenario, the Cavs could then give Johnson a raise and have Drummond and Jackson under team control for three more years. In the Cavs’ nuclear winter of a huge rebuild, that wouldn’t be the worst scenario for them.

That works out for the Cavs, but for the Pistons, there’s significantly more risk involved: they’d be pushing in all their chips for more question marks. Thompson is a serviceable big man, but he’s no Drummond — despite all the pock marks in his game.

Even the Pistons’ newest acquisition, Avery Bradley, is a risk for the Pistons already. He has one year left on his contract and the Pistons could extend him a max offer, having cleared some room through the proposed trade.

With Irving not willing to commit to a long-term contract in any trade, the stakes are higher. Even if the Pistons pulled off the deal, they could have one of the best NBA’s top backcourts, only to have Irving and Bradley both leave within two years — and they’d have nothing to show for it.

That can’t be an encouraging option for Pistons owner Tom Gores or Van Gundy, who has two years remaining on his contract and would want to have the best possible team as he works toward getting an extension, so taking such an extreme risk seems unlikely.

Despite many of the trade rumors over the last year, the Pistons seem committed to Drummond and Jackson, unless an uber-enticing deal comes along, which would only increase in value if the pair continues to improve.

In the slow days of August, the Irving trade has some sizzle, but there’s not much substance to the steak.