Trade Idea: If the top six picks go as expected, it might be wise for the Pistons to trade out of the first round, and Ty Lawson would be great bait

Trade

Pistons receive:

  • Ty Lawson (8.3 points, 1.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.0 blocks, 0.7 steals)
  • Coby Karl (4.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.4 steals)

Nuggets receive:

  • Chris Wilcox (4.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.4 steals)
  • No. 7 pick in 2010 draft

Salaries

Data from ShamSports.com

Pistons receive:

Player 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14  2014/15
Ty Lawson $1,546,560 $1,654,440  $2,544,529 $3,610,686 $0
Coby Karl $854,389 $1,091,100 $0 $0 $0
Total $2,390,949 $2,745,540 $2,544,529 $3,610,686 $0

Nuggets receive:

Player 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
Chris Wilcox $3,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
No. 7 pick $2,331,700 $2,506,600 $2,681,400 $3,405,378 $4,566,612
Total $5,331,700 $2,506,600 $2,681,400 $3,405,378 $4,566,612
  • Team option
  • Qualifying offer
  • Fully unguaranteed if waived on or before Aug. 15
  • Would hold value of $0 for trade purposes

Pistons’ perspective

Yesterday’s Kings-76ers trade killed my Pistons-Kings idea. Pistons followers seem split on what the trade means about Detroit’s chances of getting DeMarcus Cousins with the seventh pick.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press believes Cousins is more likely to slip. I know Patrick Hayes of Full-Court Press thinks the Kings will take Cousins.

Put me firmly in the this-makes-Cousins-slipping-to-7-less-likely camp. The Kings’ net change in centers is zero. Plus, by swapping Spencer Hawes for Samuel Dalembert, the Kings have a safe option at center. I think that means they’d be more likely to take the risk on Cousins.

A trade similar to original idea with Francisco Garcia instead of Andres Nocioni could still work. But Garcia has an extra year on his contract, so that wouldn’t be as appealing to Detroit.

A move with Sacramento, Philadelphia, Minnesota or even New Jersey is still possible, but the Kings-76ers trade means the Pistons are more likely to stay at No. 7, so let’s discuss what that means.

The rumors have been rampant that Detroit wants to move up to get Derrick Favors or Cousins. But I want to introduce the trade-up corollary:

If the Pistons really are keen on moving up (and I think they are), that indicates they’re not particularly high on anyone likely to be available at No. 7. Maybe they’re just that infatuated with Favors and Cousins. But in all likelihood, that’s only part of the puzzle.

After Favors, Cousins and Greg Monroe, there seems to be a pretty significant drop in big men.

Cole Aldrich, Ed Davis, Patrick Patterson, Ekpe Udoh and Hassan Whiteside represent the next tier of bigs, and they’re likely to go between Detroit’s pick and the next 10 to 15 picks. In my opinion (and because we don’t have much indication about what the Pistons want – other than they probably aren’t high on Davis – let’s stick with my opinion), there isn’t much to differentiate the value of those five players.

Aldrich is the safe pick. Whiteside has the upside (hey, that rhymes). Davis, Patterson and Udoh fall in between. But their values (odds of success multiplied by upside) all seem similar.

Unless you like one of those guys well above the rest, if you’re the first team to draft one of them, it’s not a great pick. But if you get the last of the group, that’s probably good value. Unfortunately, the Pistons position at No. 7 dictates they’ll probably fall on the low-value side of that scale.

If the first six picks of the draft are John Wall, Evan Turner, Favors, Wesley Johnson, Cousins and Monroe, who would Detroit take? The consensus next-best player available is Al-Farouq Aminu. But another combo forward isn’t ideal, and Aminu doesn’t exactly exude the toughness Joe Dumars says he wants.

So, what are the options?

Maybe Detroit could trade down to a team that wants Aminu or another forward (like Cameron Haywood). Or maybe the Pistons could trade down to a team that has its sights set on a particular second-tier big man. But as I said before, that doesn’t seem likely.

So, that leaves one more option: trade out.

Finally, to the actual trade I’m proposing.

Chad Ford reported the Nuggets have been offering Ty Lawson for a top-10 pick. I’ve previously used this space to champion trading for Lawson, so I won’t rehash it all here.

Jeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company isn’t a fan of trading Lawson, but understands this would be a win-now move. If the Nuggets are looking for an immediate impact, Jeremy thinks Aldrich is probably their target (and I agree).

The most common trade partner mentioned with the Nuggets is the Pacers, who hold the 10th pick and desperately need a point guard. A trade with the Pistons would mean Denver would have to pay the pick more, which could be a slight drawback.

But given that the Jazz may lose Carlos Boozer in free agency, they could target Aldrich at No. 9. So, if the Nuggets want Aldrich, they’d be safer trading with Detroit than with Indiana.

Wilcox would also offer more size for the Nuggets, who are looking for depth down low. His expiring contract could help facilitate another trade, too.

The Pistons would waive Karl, and given his dad coaches the team, Denver probably isn’t in too much danger of him signing elsewhere (assuming the Nuggets want to keep him, and I think they do.)

Nuggets’ perspective

From Jeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company:

From a Nuggets fan’s standpoint obviously the seventh pick is more exciting than the tenth pick, but ultimately Denver will be targeting the same player regardless of which pick they acquire. I would be concerned about what additional assets the Nuggets might be forced to give up to pull off a swap with Detroit.

I believe Lawson would be a good fit for Detroit. The knock on Lawson is his lack of size.  Most observers believe his small stature equates with poor defender, but that is not the case. As you would expect, he moves well laterally and can stay in front of his man. I was also impressed with how well he fought over screens, especially for a rookie. Obviously, he can be taken advantage of in the post by larger point guards although he is strong and does a good job fighting for position.

Offensively, Lawson is known as a fast paced player, and he does excel in transition. He is also very effective in a half court game, which makes him so valuable as a point guard. His perimeter offense was much better than expected. Even so despite his strong percentages (according to Hotspots on NBA.com, he shot at least 40% from every section of the floor save two, both were behind the arc and he still shot 33% from those two areas) he is a tentative shooter. Part of that is due to the fact he prefers to pass than shoot. It was announced Tuesday that Lawson will be on the Nuggets summer league roster and he was quoted as saying he wants to work on being more assertive.

Lawson is a 22-year-old point guard with a great feel for the game and tremendous ability who played very well as a rookie. He is already a legitimate starting point guard and I am excited to see how much better he can become. The Nuggets may have come out of the Billups for Iverson deal better off than the Pistons. If this trade becomes a reality, it might not make up for that transaction, but I suspect the tables will be turned.

My response

Jeremy’s analysis just intensifies my desire to get Lawson. I’ve written Detroit should be more focused on a big man than a point guard this summer, and I still believe that.

But Lawson would give the Pistons a quality backcourt, and Dumars has talked about how important that is to him.

Verdict

This trade depends on whether the Pistons value any of the second-tier big men above the rest, and who knows whether they do? But if they don’t and Lawson really is available, in my mind, this trade is better than reaching at No. 7.

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