ESPN lists Pistons as one of top five Kyrie Irving fake trades

DETROIT, MI - MARCH 9: Kyrie Irving
DETROIT, MI - MARCH 9: Kyrie Irving /

The Detroit Pistons got some attention as a trade destination for Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers in ESPN’s top five trades.

The Detroit Pistons were expected to have a quiet offseason, mostly keeping to re-signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and signing a few vets to cheap contracts to fill needs. By now, we know that didn’t play out according to plan. The Pistons took advantage of an opportunity to upgrade the shooting guard position, shipping Marcus Morris to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Avery Bradley, and they let KCP walk for nothing.

At this point, only two or three (depending on how Jon Leuer‘s role is decided) of last season’s starting lineup remains intact. While the Pistons are likely done making moves, the drama swirling around Kyrie Irving might be worth keeping an eye on.

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The Pistons have capitalized on the movement (or attempted acquisition) of star players multiple times in the Stan Van Gundy/Jeff Bower era. In 2015, the Pistons acquired Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock and Danny Granger for a 2020 draft pick when the Phoenix Suns were trying to clear cap space to acquire LaMarcus Aldridge (they failed).

The Pistons got a two-year starter in Morris and a solid role player in Bullock out of the Suns in that deal. This summer, the Celtics needed to clear space to consummate their signing of Gordon Hayward, and they flipped Morris for Bradley and a 2019 second round draft pick. Side note: This means Stan Van Gundy turned a 2020 second round draft pick into a 2019 second round draft pick and Avery Bradley.

While the most likely way for the Pistons to benefit from any deal involving Kyrie Irving would be to be a third team, sending or receiving some marginal outlying piece to facilitate the move (and probably come out a winner, in the tradition of all Stan Van Gundy trades), ESPN has another avenue for them to be a player in a Kyrie deal.

ESPN Insider compiled a list of their five best Kyrie Irving trades (note: pay wall), and the Pistons made the cut as a feasible destination for the best player in the deal.

This trade, as presented by ESPN, would also include a Piston first round pick going to the Los Angeles Clippers. It would also represent a monstrous win for the Pistons as they would come away with the best player in the trade in the form of Kyrie, a center who fits the modern NBA better than Andre Drummond in the form of Tristan Thompson, and they would save about $4.5 million in salary for the coming season.

The Pistons would also shed any future concerns about Reggie Jackson‘s knee. If Jackson recovers fully and becomes what he was in 2015-16, which is unlikely, great for the Cavs. The Pistons would still come away with the best player in this deal by a long shot.

On the downside, Stanley Johnson‘s upside is yet unknown and it would be a shame to move him along and see him blossom into his full potential elsewhere. It may also be problematic to trade away a future draft pick when you turn over half your roster and possibly your entire starting lineup in a single offseason.

As far as downsides go, though, it’s not bad. In addition, the Pistons probably win this trade by way too much.

Sometimes polls produce preposterous results, but sometimes they’re right on. As we see here, Cleveland would likely be the biggest loser in the trade (downgrading in talent at point guard, getting older at center and adding $3.3 million in salary. This is a humongous sum for the Cavs as they are so deep into the tax that every dollar they add costs $4.75 in tax. This additional salary would cost them almost $16 million in luxury tax.

DeAndre Jordan and Reggie Jackson would cost almost $20 million more than Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. That’s a lot of money to spend to get worse just to make Kyrie happy and get him out of Cleveland.

According to Adrian Wojarnowski of ESPN, six teams have made formal trade offers and as many as 20 teams have made inquiries regarding his acquisition. While the Detroit Pistons are not a team who has made an offer, it’s reasonable to assume they’ve called the Cavs on the basis of curiosity at the very least.

Next: Why the Pistons should rest Reggie Jackson

While we can’t completely exclude the Detroit Pistons from playing some role in a future Kyrie Irving trade, this isn’t the deal that makes it happen.