How Kawhi Leonard’s decision impacts the Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons Reggie Jackson. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Reggie Jackson. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Kawhi Leonard announced he will be leaving the Toronto Raptors and joining the Los Angelas Clippers. What does this mean for the Detroit Pistons?

Earthquake. Los Angeles. I was going to come up with some kind of interesting lede, but honestly, all of the good ones are already taken.

The important thing is that Kawhi Leonard has decided to take his talents to Los Angeles, but not to form a super team with LeBron and Anthony Davis. Instead, Kawhi recruited Paul George to demand a trade to the Clippers, to form a squad with some incredible firepower, but also with an amazing amount of depth.

Related Story. Detroit Pistons have put together a nice off-season. light

With the Clippers now considered the favorites to win the NBA Championship, there are so many great outcomes. The move is a great one for the league, as so many teams have called their shot, going all-in for this season. But how does this move affect the Pistons?

The Raptors have decisions to make

Kawhi’s time in the Eastern Conference was short-lived, but will always be remembered. Taking the Raptors to their first-ever NBA championship, and then defeating the dynasty will go down in history. But with Kawhi, along with his teammate Danny Green leaving for the Lakers in free agency, where do the Raptors go from here?

Kyle Lowry played a very good playoff, silencing his critics that are normally very loud come April. But he is on the last year of his contract and is 33 years old. If the Raptors decide to tear it down, or at least do a “soft reboot”, Lowry could find himself on the move.

The Pistons have been looking to upgrade at the point guard position for a long time, and will likely be tied to Lowry throughout next season, whether they are actually interested or not. Lowry’s ties with Casey, as well as the team’s frustration with Reggie Jackson will be discussed throughout the season.

Lowry is older than Mike Conley and is expiring, so he likely wouldn’t cost as much as the Utah Jazz spent to acquire Conley. The Pistons have been reported by Vince Ellis of the Free Press to believe they will be “players” in the free agency class of 2021, so they probably do not want to add any long term deals (i.e. Russell Westbrook).

The Pistons could also wait it out, let Reggie Jackson off the books, and target Kyle Lowry next season. But he is going to regress soon, and if the Pistons think Lowry could take this team to the next level, it’s possible they pull the trigger before the season or at the trade deadline.

Time to sell high?

Whether you believe the Pistons should keep running it back with their core of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond or tear it down immediately, there is one common goal. Get the most value possible in a return.

Paul George was traded for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, a return that felt small until both players for the Pacers broke out of their shell. Then George surprisingly resigned with the Thunder instead of heading to Los Angeles, and the return felt minuscule once again.

Kawhi was traded for DeMar DeRozan, Jason Poeltl and a late first-round pick, with the Raptors taking a similar gamble on a player with only a year left on his contract. Even though Kawhi did end up leaving after once season, lifting up the Larry O’Brien Championship trophy made it all worth it.

But this year, with the record setting return on trades for Anthony Davis and Paul George, the market for star players may be back to where it should be.

Griffin and Drummond are not near the level of Anthony Davis, and the Paul George return was only so massive because it guaranteed Kawhi Leonard. But, if the Pistons decide they want to get value for these guys before it is too late, now may be the best time.

Perhaps a team like Portland could believe they are only an elite frontcourt player away from contending in the Western Conference. With ties to Kevin Love, it is clear that they may be targeting improving the power forward position, and Griffin is a better player than Love, and may even fit better with the Trail Blazers.

The Boston Celtics have been rumored to be interested in Drummond for years, dating back to before they signed Al Horford. Now that they lost Horford in free agency, could they look to acquire the elite rebounding rim protector? They still have a ton of assets and feel a move away from getting back into that top tier of the Eastern Conference once again.

Eastern Conference – Middle tier is large

When trying to predict the upcoming season, it is easy to pencil in the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers as the top two seeds in the conference. But after that, there are a ton of question marks.

The Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers are both teams that are expected to remain near the top half of the conference. The Brooklyn Nets are extremely well-coached, and the addition of Kyrie Irving probably raises the ceiling, as well as lowers the floor of their potential for next season.

After that though, is where things get interesting.

Depending on the Raptors next move, they could easily find themselves around the middle of the playoff seeds. The Miami Heat gutted their roster to add Jimmy Butler, and Atlanta Hawks look to be a fun team on the rise, maybe sooner rather than later.

The Orlando Magic made a surprising run at a playoff spot last season, and return much of the same roster.

The Detroit Pistons have certainly upgraded their depth, which was their Achilles heel last season. They could end up anywhere between the 6th and the 8th seeds and it wouldn’t be a surprise, and falling out of the playoff picture is a possibility if the health doesn’t hold up.

This is season is very important to decide the future of the team. If Drummond has an incredible season, like the season half of last year, the Detroit Pistons could give him the max. If they’re not in playoff position come to the deadline, they could tear it down.

Next. Derrick Rose was the correct signing. dark

But Kawhi Leonard’s decision heavily impacts the Detroit Pistons, and where they go from here.