The Pistons dealt their longest-tenured player, Andre Drummond, to the Cavaliers for expiring contracts and a 2023 second-round pick. The Detroit News
Detroit — In trading Andre Drummond to the Cavaliers on Thursday, the Pistons didn’t make a big splash in adding a prized young player or a first-round draft picks — but they also didn’t handcuff themselves with bad players or bad contracts.
Dealing Drummond for John Henson, Brandon Knight and a 2023 second-round pick was the best they could do. In doing so, the Pistons kick-started their rebuild and youth movement — which is something.
Something small isn’t always bad.
Sure, they could have done more.
They held on to the expiring contracts of Reggie Jackson ($18.1 million) and Langston Galloway ($7.3 million), as well as Tim Frazier ($1.9 million), who could be a candidate to be waived because the Pistons went over the roster limit of 15 in the two-for-one trade for Drummond.
They also entertained offers for Derrick Rose, Luke Kennard and Christian Wood, among others, and were only able to make one move. But it’s a big move in setting the direction for the franchise: they’re rebuilding — and the Pistons fan base had been pining for that.
There were other less-palatable options.
According to reports, they couldn’t agree on trade protections on a first-round pick for a potential Kennard trade to the Phoenix Suns. They had a high asking price for Rose, seeking a lottery-level first-round pick for the veteran point guard. Galloway could have garnered a second-round pick, but there’s a sense that having his veteran presence in the locker room with more youngsters than veterans is more valuable than a second-round pick.
Some fans will be disappointed in the return for Drummond, but there wasn’t a robust market for his skill set, with his contract and the uncertainty of his future after this season. The upside for the Pistons is that they don’t have to wonder whether he’ll opt-in for his $28.8 million next year. That’s the Cavs’ issue now.
For the rest of this season, the Pistons will get a good look at Wood, an intriguing young prospect who could be re-signed for a fraction of Drummond’s salary, and re-distribute their available cap space next season toward a youth movement.
With the contracts of Henson and Knight expiring in the summer, the Pistons could have significant cap space to pursue free agents or to bring in more salary in a trade. They also will be free of Josh Smith’s $5.3 million, which creates more flexibility to reshape the roster with young players, or more viable options.
Rebuilds aren’t pretty. There are going to be plenty of losses, as the Pistons look to give more playing time to the young players and could have Blake Griffin back, after his knee surgery that likely will end his season.
That’s something. And something is better than nothing — especially if that something is bad.