Houston continues to offer the 14th and 23rd picks in the draft to move into the top 10, and could have a willing partner with the Detroit Pistons at No. 8. The Pistons have told teams they won’t trade down until they see who drops to them on draft night, sources said. In what could be an interesting window into the Pistons’ preferences, San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard worked out for Detroit on Monday, and shortly thereafter cancelled his Wednesday workout with the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the 10th pick. Several executives believe Leonard may have left Auburn Hills with a guarantee.
Trade with Rockets
When it first broke that the Rockets wanted to trade up, I considered whether the Pistons would be a good fit. Ultimately, I didn’t think they would make the deal.
The Pistons had five players in their first or second year this season, and I doubt Joe Dumars wants to fill his roster with inexperienced players. I already expect the Pistons to use at least their latter second-round pick on a player willing to play overseas next year. Would adding first-round picks really appeal to them? (I think a similar logic played into their decision to decline a deadline trade of Tayshaun Prince for the Mavericks’ first-round pick.)
Plus, it appeared the Pistons could get one of the draft’s better bigs at No. 8. I didn’t think they could at No. 14.
Now, I’m re-thinking the trade a bit. Could the Pistons get Jonas Valanciunas at No. 14 now that his buyout will likely prevent him from joining the NBA next year? If that’s the case – and it might not be, because the Rockets reportedly like him, so maybe they’re moving up to No. 8 to get him – Detroit wouldn’t be adding another rookie to next year’s roster. Or maybe the Pistons like Nikola Vucevic or Tristan Thompson for No. 14, and at 23, they could take a player who won’t be stateside immediately in Nikola Mirotic.
Or maybe I’m way off base in the Pistons’ willingness to infuse young players into the roster, and they’d eye a combination like Vucevic or Thompson at 14 and Darius Morris or Reggie Jackson at 23. That would certainly help them fill two positions of need.
Promising Kawhi Leonard
Although I certainly can’t rule out the Pistons promising Kawhi Leonard – Las Vegas certainly believes there’s a great chance the Pistons draft him – I’d be pretty surprised if they did. It seems like Woj’s sources are speculating just because Leonard cancelled his Milwaukee visit, which is fine, but Leonard could’ve cancelled that visit for many reasons (visiting another team Wednesday, needing rest, avoiding working out against another player the Bucks’ have in that day, getting a promise from another team coincidentally after he worked out in Detroit, deciding he’d prefer not to play in Milwaukee, etc.)
Plus, would the Pistons really promise a player a day before today’s huge workout in Auburn Hills?