Memphis, Tenn. — With Thursday's NBA trade deadline looming, the Pistons could be on the verge of making a trade.
It’s not one of the bigger names that have been rumored in recent weeks — but it's a big one, nonetheless.
According to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pistons are in talks with the Phoenix Suns on a deal that’s centered around guard Luke Kennard. The report, which came early Tuesday morning, could include guards Jevon Carter and Elie Okobo and more importantly, a first-round pick, according to Wojnarowski.
The Suns’ vice president of basketball operations is former Pistons general manager Jeff Bower, who drafted Kennard in the first round (12th overall) in 2017 from Duke.
The Suns, at 20-30, are tied for 11th place in the Western Conference and their first-round draft pick this summer could be in the 10-12 range at their current pace.
Kennard, 23, is having his best season, averaging 15.8 points, 4.1 assists and shooting 40% on 3-pointers. He’s missed the last 22 games because of tendinitis in both knees; his last game was Dec. 21.
With the increased playing time in Kennard's absence, the improved production of young wings such as Svi Mykhailiuk, Bruce Brown and rookie Sekou Doumbouya, the Pistons have become more flexible with their roster, and which players could be made available at the trade deadline.
Kennard, in his third season, will be eligible for a contract extension on his rookie deal, and though he’s had progressive improvement each season, he could command a big payday when he signs his next contract. That could be a bigger risk because of Kennard's injury history, especially given his extended absence with knee issues.
Both teams have Tuesday off after playing back-to-backs on Sunday and Monday. The Pistons host the Suns on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The Pistons (18-34) could be one of the more active teams ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, but the bigger rumors have included some of their bigger-salaried players such as Andre Drummond, Derrick Rose and Reggie Jackson.
If the report is true, the Pistons likely would have to make other roster moves to accommodate the incoming players. They already have the maximum 15 players on the roster and would have to open a roster spot to bring in Carter and Okobo.