Pistons deal Bruce Brown to Nets for Dzanan Musa, pick as GM Troy Weaver begins retooling
When the Pistons moved on from Stan Van Gundy and hired Ed Stefanski in 2018 to guide the front office, they didn’t have a first-round pick in the draft.
With their second-round pick, they drafted Bruce Brown at No. 42 overall. In his two seasons, Brown became a solid player in the rotation and started 99 of the 132 games with the Pistons.
His time with the Pistons is over, after the new general manager Troy Weaver agreed to send Brown to the Brooklyn Nets for forward Dzanan Musa and a 2021 second-round pick, a league source confirmed to The Detroit News on Monday. The source requested anonymity because the trade was not yet officially completed.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the deal.
The trade looks to be part of a larger reshaping of the roster that could begin this week, with the NBA opening for trades on Monday, followed by the draft on Wednesday and free agency beginning Friday.
Brown, 24, played 58 games (43 starts) last season and posted 8.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and four assists per game. To his credit, Brown improved on one of his biggest weaknesses, going from 26% on 3-pointers as a rookie to 34% last season.
After a shaky rookie season, Brown was pressed into some time at point guard, where he had mixed results. He showed his biggest strength in being able to guard some of the best backcourt players in the league.
"Bruce, going forward, is probably not going to be a point guard,” coach Dwane Casey said in February. “(Filling that spot is) for free agency, draft and all that, but again the experience he's getting there is going to help him to tread water and have to be a secondary ball-handler."
With his struggles as a point guard, Brown’s value to the Pistons was as a wing player. For that position, he’s a bit undersized at 6-foot-4.
That’s where adding Musa comes into play.
Musa, 21, is three years younger than Brown and at 6-9, has some potential as a wing player. He was 29th pick in the same draft as Brown but has played far less with the Nets. Last season, Musa averaged 4.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 40 games. In his rookie season, Musa played in just nine games and posted 2.1 points per game.
Last season, Musa played 12 games with the Long Island Nets and had better numbers: 19.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 41% on 4.3 3-pointers per game. That’s the upside that the Pistons likely are hoping to get from Musa on a similar contract. Musa is set to earn $2 million next season, compared to the $1.7 million that Brown will earn. Musa's deal also has a team option for $3.6 million in 2021-’22.
On a larger scale, trading Brown shows that Weaver has a stronger hold on personnel decisions. Though Brown was the first pick under Stefanski — who remains as a senior adviser to team owner Tom Gores — Weaver is shaping the roster the way he envisions.
While Weaver was in Oklahoma City, he valued taller, more versatile players who could switch and guard multiple positions and have a penchant for scoring at the rim. Brown doesn’t seem to fit that mold as a wing, but Musa could.
They’ll have time to figure out the rest of the roster, but if the moves during Weaver’s tenure as an assistant general manager with the Thunder are any indication, he values bigger wings such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (6-5), Darius Bazley (6-8) and Terrance Ferguson (6-6).