Pistons agree to deal Stanley Johnson to Bucks for big man Thon Maker
The Pistons weren’t content to stand pat ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.
Instead, they’re moving forward with a plan to rebuild on the fly, gather some assets and get some relief in the salary cap. It started with an agreement Tuesday night to send wing Reggie Bullock to the Lakers for Svi Mykhailiuk and a draft pick.
It continued Wednesday with another deal.
The Pistons agreed in principle Wednesday to send forward Stanley Johnson to the Milwaukee Bucks for big man Thon Maker, a league source confirmed to The Detroit News.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the news of the pending trade.
It’s an even exchange of former lottery picks whom most experts have agreed would benefit from changes of scenery.
Maker, 21, 7-foot-1 and in his third season, fell out of favor with the Bucks and requested a trade to a team that could offer more playing time and a bigger role. In his third season, he played in just 35 games and posted 4.7 points and 2.7 rebounds, hitting 33 percent on 3-pointers.
He’s a stretch-forward and can play some backup center but his slight frame, at about 221 pounds, limits his effectiveness in the middle.
Maker is still on his rookie deal, with a contract for $2.8 million this year and $3.6 million next season, which saves the Pistons more than $1 million off of Johnson’s $3.9 million this year and gives them another young player under team control, similar to the deal for Mykhailiuk.
A native of Sudan, Maker was the 10th overall pick in 2016, a surprise selection for the Bucks, who were building a lineup of lengthy big men, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and former Piston Khris Middleton. With the emergence of Ersan Ilyasova and D.J. Wilson (Michigan), Maker’s minutes dried up, leading to the trade request.
Johnson, 22, was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 draft and after a promising rookie season, he struggled to find a consistent role under then-coach Stan Van Gundy. He was a starter at the beginning of this season but moved to the bench, where he found a better niche as a defender.
He is averaging 7.5 points and 3.6 rebounds while hitting just 28 percent on 3-pointers. Johnson’s biggest asset is his defensive versatility. Johnson is set to become a restricted free agent in the offseason and indications were that the Pistons weren’t keen on making the qualifying offer of $4.5 million to retain him.