Could the Detroit Pistons be trade partners for the Los Angeles Clippers?

Detroit Pistons Markieff Morris. (Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Markieff Morris. (Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons have been at the forefront of most NBA trade rumors. Are they a suitable partner for the Los Angeles Clippers? Possibly.

The Los Angeles Clippers are on a contending path with a decent shelf life, and the Detroit Pistons could assist their quest.

On Thursday, The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported that the Clippers are looking to add “dependable size as well as potential wing depth.” He added that they are concerned with “their lack of muscle up front compared to the Lakers’ strength.”

With Andre Drummond drawing everyone’s attention to tip off the trade rumor season, he would be a solid, but unlikely fit. The Clippers are essentially cap-locked and would have to lose significant depth to match Drummond’s $27.1 million salary.

That leaves three players on the Pistons that could be of interest to the Clippers. Markieff Morris, Tony Snell and Langston Galloway all provide something the Clippers could use on their quest for a championship.

Morris is a highly-efficient shooter that has a history of physical defense. He’s shooting a career-best 41.1% from 3-point range. At 6-foot-8, 245 pounds, Morris can play inside or out. He is the cheapest of the three but holds a player option worth $3.36 million next season.

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Snell is shooting a career-best 43.2% from 3-point range. The 6-6 wing can guard multiple positions and was born in Los Angeles and raised in Riverside. Snell has the most expensive contract of the three but would fit along the contention timeline, making $12.2 million in 2020-21.

Galloway may be undersized at 6-1 but is shooting 38.9% from 3-point range and has become effective at drawing fouls on 3-point attempts. He’s on par with his career-best percentage of 39% set in 2016-17. He has an expiring $7.3 million contract.

Let’s take a look at possible deals.

First, the Clippers won’t be giving up much in a deal for any of the aforementioned players. It’s not out of the realm to say picks are off the table, especially if the Pistons could nab their 2021 or 2023 2nds that they sent in the Blake Griffin trade.

Maurice Harkless is a player that the Pistons could acquire in a straight swap for Snell. Harkless, 26, is an intriguing player at 6-7, 220 pounds. He’s slightly more valuable on the defensive side of the ball with 12.6 defensive win shares of his 21.2 total. He’s a much better slasher and operates best from within 10 feet of the basket.

The straight swap may help the Pistons defensively but it would free up $11 million in cap space, not having to pay Snell in 2020-21. The flipside for the Clippers is they improve their 3-point shooting, in which they’re tied for 14th, converting 35.6% from 3-point range.

Moving along, another possibility would be trading Morris and Galloway for Harkless and that Pistons 2021 2nd. Though the Pistons may want to split the two up to maximize a potential return. The only upside from this potential deal is the Pistons could clear a roster spot for a future deal or to use the recently-awarded disabled player exception.

Another deal could send 28-year-old wing Rodney McGruder and 22-year-old swingman Jerome Robinson in exchange for Galloway.

The Pistons could finagle a pick out of the Clippers for taking on McGruder’s three-year deal and Robinson’s four-year deal. Though the Clippers may hesitate seeing Robinson as a younger asset. Combined, the Pistons would be on the hook for roughly $8.3 million.

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Robinson hasn’t made large strides at the NBA level yet. He’s averaging 12.1 minutes per game this season with a shooting line of .341/.297/.588 while appearing in 37 games. His Player Efficiency Rating is down to 5.3 after recording a 7.1 as a rookie.

McGruder has been slightly better with a 6.8 PER. He’s shooting a career-worst 38.8% from the floor and 27.3% from 3-point range.

Any deal for Morris could involve Robinson for a player swap to match contracts. Or the Pistons would have to find a way to take two of Patrick Patterson, Mfiondu Kabengele, Derrick Walton Jr. or Terrance Mann.

The Clippers (31-14) enter Friday five games behind the Lakers (36-9) for the West’s top seed. That’s to be expected while managing minutes for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to be healthy for the postseason push.

It’s hard to say if the Clippers will make a move but the Pistons have pieces they could be interested that could bolster their roster for a playoff run.

Next. Detroit Pistons 2020 trade deadline guide. dark