Mailbag: Pistons' trading posture, how Killian Hayes will blend in upon return
With the NBA trade deadline approaching on Thursday, the Pistons wouldn’t seem to be a huge player in the midseason swap meet. After all, the Pistons have reshaped their roster, with only Sekou Doumbouya remaining from last season’s roster.
Anyone who’s been paying attention should know better.
With Troy Weaver at the helm, the Pistons have been active in free agency, in the draft and all through this season. Trade season shouldn’t be any different. On first blush, the Pistons don’t seem to have much to offer, but with so many teams in contention for the playoffs, some of them will be looking for even small upgrades to get that boost they’re looking for.
The Pistons are in a position to oblige, with Wayne Ellington likely being available because he’s on a one-year, veteran-minimum contract. He can help a contending team with his 3-point shooting, and he could likely bring back a second-round pick in return.
What about Josh Jackson or Mason Plumlee or Delon Wright? Or even Doumbouya? It’s possible that any of them — or none of them — will be dealt, because with their acquisitions in the offseason, the Pistons accumulated contracts that were easily movable. Jerami Grant ($19 million) is the only player left on the roster who will make more than $9 million this season.
It’s highly unlikely that the Pistons would part with Grant or any of their rookies, as they look to solidify the foundation for the long-term future. Is Grant untouchable? Not quite, but the asking price would be pretty high.
“Nobody's untouchable. I’ve learned to never say never, but there are some guys that are here to stay, so we'll see,” Weaver said. “If I say, 'These guys are untouchable,' and then somebody calls and offers me four first-round picks, then they’re not untouchable. Strange things have happened.”
So that’s pretty much a no on Grant.
As they should be, the Pistons are looking to accumulate more young players and draft picks, as they did in the Derrick Rose trade with the Knicks, but Weaver is building a nice young nucleus and could add to it at the deadline — if the price is right.
This week’s Mail Satchel looks at the role that Killian Hayes could play when he returns and some concerns about the new acquisitions:
Question: When the time comes, how do you think Killian gets integrated back into the squad? Killian and Sekou are the two big remaining question marks on the season. What do you want to see out of them the last 20-30 games of the season to feel positive going into the offseason? – @Halbridious
Answer: There might not be much to watch in the remaining 30-plus games, but how Killian Hayes looks when he returns is likely at the top of that list for most people. Hayes only got to play seven games before his injury, and he never really looked comfortable in the starting group. Coach Dwane Casey said he thought maybe Hayes was trying too hard to get the ball to some of the veterans, which may have impacted his rhythm on the court.
Casey also said that he doesn’t regret putting Hayes in the starting lineup to open his career, but that he might consider using the rookie with the second unit when he’s able to return, likely in early April. It’s not clear whether that means Hayes would be running with Saben Lee or what else that means, but it would be easier for him to ramp up against backups instead of starting.
From Hayes, I’d want to see some playmaking ability with the ball in his hands and how he looks in transition. If he can get a few 3-pointers to fall, that would be encouraging too. As for Doumbouya, he just needs to show that he’s making progress. He’s showing good signs defensively, but he hasn’t looked comfortable on offense yet this season.
Q: What is the most likely outcome with DSJ? Can he be traded again before the deadline or would Pistons have to extend his QO or re-sign him to gain any value from him via trade? – @DRJenkins08
A: For Dennis Smith Jr., the most likely outcome is that he ends up on another team in free agency. He’ll be a restricted free agent after the season, but the Pistons likely won’t commit big money for him. If he wants to come back for a smaller salary, that could be possible, but given they’re trying to develop Hayes and Lee, there doesn’t appear to be a spot for another point guard.
Weaver and Casey have said in recent weeks that they really want to take a long look at Smith in the remainder of the season, but the roster just doesn’t look like there’s room for them to keep him at a reasonable salary.
Q: What would be a good offer for Spencer Dinwiddie? Is he the type of guy that seems to fit the Weaver mold of other guys he's targeted? –@thepresident34
A: Spencer Dinwiddie is out presumably for the rest of the year, and he has a player option for $12.3 million for next season. He’d likely pick that up, coming off an injury, and the Pistons either would have to get him to opt-out of that and offer a longer-term deal or something similar to make it make sense.
It’s not clear what the Nets might want in return, but it probably wouldn’t be a ton, considering they’d be getting off the contract. It’s an interesting thought because Dinwiddie would be the type of combo guard that the Pistons like, similar to Delon Wright. The injury might give them some pause, so I’ll put it in the unlikely category.