3-on-3: Trading Jason Maxiell

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, Patrick and I will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. We’re going to use 3-on-3s to assess the tradability of each Piston leading up to the March 15 trade deadline.

For each 3-on-3, we’ll be joined by a guest contributor. Today, that’s Ben Gulker of Pistons by the Numbers and Detroit Bad Boys.

Please add your responses in the comment.

1. How motivated are the Pistons to trade Jason Maxiell?

Dan Feldman: Maxiell might be the Pistons most tradable asset, given how strong he’s come on lately. I hope they’re at least talking to teams about him. If Maxiell could fetch a high second-round pick from a team that could absorb him with cap space or a trade exception or send back an expiring contract, I’d think long and hard about that.

Patrick Hayes: They would probably move him, even though his play has been one of the few bright spots this season. Maxiell isn’t a long-term answer as a starting power forward, but he’s returned to form as an energy player and rebounder. His contract isn’t so onerous that they have to get rid of him, but he’s also getting back to the point where a team might give up a modest asset to add him to its frontcourt for playoff depth.

Ben Gulker: I wouldn’t think he’s at the top of the list, but certainly Joe Dumars would move him if given the right opportunity. However, with Charlie Villanueva emerging as a prime candidate for the amnesty clause and Ben Wallace retiring at the end of the season, moving Maxiell would create an even bigger hole in an already too-thin frontcourt rotation.

2. How motivated are other teams to trade for Jason Maxiell?

Dan Feldman: Teams could always use another big man, Maxiell has probably passed the point of being overpaid. But owed $5 million next year, he’s definitely not a big value. In this economy, the luxury-tax hit for teams looking at Maxiell might be too much to bear.

Patrick Hayes: It depends whether they’ve noticed what he’s done this season. Maxiell is coming off of two straight years of decline, something he admitted was his own fault for not keeping himself in shape. If other teams remember that Maxiell, rather than the solid rotation player he’s been this season, his market won’t be as strong. If teams have noticed what a motivated and in-shape Maxiell can bring to the table, there might be some interest.

Ben Gulker: After a very disappointing 2010-2011 season, Maxiell is playing like a rotation-caliber big once again this season. Assuming his production holds up, he’s not absurdly overpaid, and he’s a relatively short-term commitment even after he picks up his player option this summer.The problem is that Detroit wants young talent (especially young bigs), draft picks, and/or substantial salary relief coming back. I’m not convinced many teams are tempted enough by Maxiell’s recent resurgence to part with those types of assets.

3. How likely are the Pistons to trade Jason Maxiell?

Dan Feldman: I think Maxiell is one of the Pistons most likely to be traded. He would be serviceable to a contender right now, and the Pistons probably wouldn’t hate getting out of his contract. The biggest hangup is that Maxiell’s move into the starting lineup has help Lawrence Frank set a rotation that puts Detroit’s young players in the best position to succeed and grow. Would the Pistons risk messing that up?

Patrick Hayes: Not very. If the Pistons could get assets for him, they would trade him in a heartbeat. But if they can’t, they can simply keep him and hope to improve the quality of the non-Greg Monroe frontcourt position through the draft while keeping Maxiell as a capable, veteran backup.

Ben Gulker: Unlikely, but not impossible. Even though the Pistons are likely to add at least one more big man through the draft, they will need a player of Maxiell’s caliber to round out their frontcourt rotation – Monroe, Jerebko, and this summer’s lottery pick isn’t getting it done on its own (assuming Villanueva is amnestied). Perhaps they could add a veteran big via free agency or get lucky in the lottery, but that’s no guarantee. Maxiell is a known quality at a known cost playing an important role for this team. Moving him without a viable replacement may do more harm than good.

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