I broke down the Luol Deng-Andrew Bynum trade for ProBasketballTalk, and the Pistons are among the losers:
Losers: Washington Wizards, Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks
These four teams definitely want to make the 2014 playoffs. They’ve sacrificed future flexibility in order to increase success this season.
All four have traded a first-round pick they could surrender in 2014 without even making the playoffs. In other words, to varying degrees, tanking might not even let these teams reap the rewards of a high draft pick. They’re fully or nearly fully on the playoff-contention track.
But it hasn’t gone so well. None of the four has a winning record, and just two would make the postseason if it began today. Here’s how they, and the two teams in this trade, stand in the Eastern Conference:
5. Wizards (14-17)
6. Bulls (14-18)
8. Pistons (14-20)
9. Nets (12-21)
12. Knicks (11-22)
13. Cavaliers (11-12)
This trade obviously shakes up the postseason picture. The Cavaliers are more likely to make the playoffs. The Bulls are less likely to make the playoffs. But the magnitude by which Cleveland’s odds increase is less than the magnitude by which Chicago’s odds decrease.
Simply, that’s because the Bulls are starting in playoff position and the Cavaliers aren’t. Deng will obviously make the Cavaliers better, especially because he fills such a glaring hole for them. But Thibodeau will keep the Bulls playing hard and defending to the best of their capabilities, and that might keep them in the postseason race.
In other words, the Wizards, Pistons, Nets and Knicks must now fend off Cleveland while still combating a dangerous Chicago.