Rose finished with just two points in 13 minutes, and the injury comes at a critical time before Thursday's trade deadline. The Detroit News
Memphis, Tenn. — The Pistons’ season has been derailed by injuries and subpar play, and with just two days before the NBA trade deadline, Detroit seems poised to rebuild.
There hasn’t been a clear indication whether the rebuild will be a long-term project with a large-scale deconstruction, or a short-term retool.
Monday night likely provided a clue.
The Pistons and Phoenix Suns are engaged in talks to send Luke Kennard to the Suns in a deal that could return the Pistons a first-round pick, in addition to young guards Jevon Carter and Elie Okobo.
Wait, Luke Kennard? Wouldn’t the 23-year-old be part of the Pistons’ rebuild?
Well, yes — and no.
Kennard, who was the Pistons’ first-round pick (12th overall) in 2017, has made significant progress in his first three years. He’s averaging a career-best 15.8 points and 4.1 assists, and has become and adept shooter from 3-point range, at 40 percent.
He’s been derided for most of his career as the player the Pistons selected instead of Donovan Mitchell, who has revitalized the Utah Jazz and become an All-Star. But Kennard has been a good young piece for the Pistons, joining the starting lineup and validating the Pistons’ faith in him.
Kennard’s injury history has become a concern, as he’s missed chunks of each season, including the last 22 games for the Pistons, because of knee tendinitis. The other concern is that Kennard is approaching the window where he’s eligible for a rookie-scale contract extension, which could mean a big payday.
With the injury concerns, would the Pistons be willing to go all-in on a bigger, long-term contract for Kennard? That’s the quandary.
Rather than make that decision, the Pistons (18-34) appear more willing to gather assets for their expiring contracts and movable players ahead of Thursday’s deadline. They look to have a willing partner in the Suns and their vice president of basketball operations, Jeff Bower, the former Pistons general manager who drafted Kennard.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Suns envision Kennard “as a 30 minute-plus per game floor spacer to complement Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre, Jr., and Ricky Rubio.”
That’s not much different than the role he’s had with the Pistons, as a knock-down shooter and facilitator and defensively, he’s still developing.
The value in the trade could be in the Suns’ pick, which could be in the 10-12 range, with their current record (20-30), and outside the playoff spots in the Western Conference. Two lottery picks would put the Pistons in a good spot in a draft that could restock the roster with talented young players.
Kennard isn’t the only name in the trade winds. Andre Drummond has drawn interest from the New York Knicks — who fired team president Steve Mills on Tuesday — and the Charlotte Hornets, as well as the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics, according to reports.
Drummond has a player option for $28.8 million for next season and if he opts-out, the Pistons could lose him with no compensation. There’s still a chance that Drummond could opt-in and return to the Pistons next season and be traded later, or team with Blake Griffin and other young pieces to create a team that could look to make the playoffs next season.
Derrick Rose, who has been a hot name in trade rumors, seems more likely to be staying put through the trade deadline. He suffered a left adductor injury in Sunday’s game against the Denver Nuggets, which could dull some of the interest. Reports indicated that the Pistons were seeking a “lottery-level” pick in return for Rose, which would make a trade with contending teams that have shown interest in him less likely unless another team with that high pick enters the equation.
Other Pistons players who could have trade value, such as Langston Galloway, Markieff Morris, Christian Wood and Svi Mykhailiuk, could be made available in a deal if the right return is offered.