Pistons acquire big man Nerlens Noel, guard Alec Burks from Knicks

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver and his staff are at it again.

With NBA free agency set to begin this week, the Pistons continue to be active, making a deal with the New York Knicks on Tuesday to acquire big man Nerlens Noel and guard Alec Burks, a league source confirmed to The Detroit News.

The Pistons will also receive their own 2023 second-round pick back from the Knicks, along with a 2024 second-round pick via the Miami Heat and cash, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported the trade.

Knicks guard Alec Burks (18) is defended by Pistons forward Marvin Bagley III (35) during the second half.

It’s the rare trade where the Pistons are not sending any players back to the other team. The key to the deal is the Pistons’ cap space, as the Knicks are unloading contracts to become a bigger player in free agency, presumably to make a push to sign guard Jalen Brunson.

With the moves, the Knicks were able to shed about $19.2 million — Burks is due $10 million next season and Noel $9.2 million. The Pistons will have some flexibility the following season, as each player has a team option for 2023-24, with Burks at $10.5 million and Noel at $9.7 million.

The added salary leaves the Pistons with about $20 million in cap space as free agency opens on Thursday. They won’t have a max-salary slot to go after one of the top free agents such as Phoenix Suns big man Deandre Ayton or Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges.

According to a league source, the Pistons plan to keep the two veterans, but other deals could be possible during the course of free agency. 

The Pistons’ additions make for a crowded group of centers with Noel, Isaiah Stewart, Kelly Olynyk and Marvin Bagley III — to whom the Pistons extended a qualifying offer Tuesday to make him a restricted free agent.

Burks, 30, helps address one of the biggest needs for the Pistons, who were 29th in the league in 3-point shooting. Burks shot 40% from beyond the arc last season, his third straight season shooting above 40%. He averaged 11.7 points and 4.9 rebounds and was durable, playing 81 games last season.

Noel, 28, is a 6-foot-11 big man who posted 3.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in 25 games. He brings a defensive presence and size that the Pistons could use.

In a separate deal with the Knicks this week during the NBA Draft, the Pistons acquired the No. 13 pick, Memphis big man Jalen Duren, for a 2025 first-round pick that the Pistons had received from the Portland Trail Blazers in the Jerami Grant deal ahead of the draft.

The Pistons took on more money in the deal, with Kemba Walker in the final year of his contract, at $9.2 million. Reports indicate that the Pistons plan to pursue a buyout of Walker's contract.  


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard