Luke Kennard is the latest Detroit Pistons player to have trade buzz. Here are three reasons why the team should consider trading him.
Luke Kennard‘s evolution in his third season is a product of what he showed during the 2019 playoffs, but he’s been hampered by injuries in his three NBA seasons.
Still, Kennard is valuable as the Pistons move forward with a rebuild. He turns 24 in June and will enter the last year of his rookie contract.
But the soon-to-be restricted free agent is also a valuable trade asset, and could fetch a nice return for a rebuilding team. The buzz surrounding Kennard’s involvement in trade discussions has left Pistons fans conflicted on whether to trade him or if he’s a viable piece moving forward.
Nothing appears to be imminent. The only team with reported interest was the Philadelphia 76ers a few weeks ago, but nothing has come of those reports. Though there are likely 29 teams that would have interest in Kennard’s services, especially given the fact that he’s being paid $3.83 million this season and will make $5.27 million in 2020-21 before becoming a restricted free agent.
It’s hard to pin down what Kennard’s value would be in an open bidding market, especially one with a loaded free agent class such as 2021’s. The ability to have his bird years and to match his contract is something that boosts his trade value, too.
Let’s take a look at three reasons why the Pistons should trade Kennard.
1. Kennard may have hit his ceiling
Kennard is currently a one-dimensional player. He’s an asset offensively but is limited on the defensive end. Playing to his strengths is something the Pistons are equipped to do but makes lineup construction somewhat difficult.
He best fits alongside Bruce Brown and Tony Snell to make up for his defensive shortcomings. The two-man lineup of Brown and Kennard is something that can be built on for the future. Both will be 24 before the start of next season.
The best-case scenario for Kennard has been Manu Ginobili, who came into the league at 25 years old and was already a solid defender. He also benefitted from having one of the best coaches of all-time. But it’s more likely that Kennard is on a similar track that J.J. Redick or Kyle Korver have gone down.
Redick didn’t become a starter until he was 29 and with the Clippers — alongside Chris Paul — despite being a consistent 3-point shooter. Korver has been an elite 3-point shooter that has come off the bench for the majority of his career.
Being compared to those two means that Kennard certainly has trade value and, if he can stay healthy, will be in the league a long time. His current talent level on the offensive end is already good enough to help a contending team this season.
At 6-foot-5 with a wingspan that matches his height, Kennard is unlikely to become an elite defender, especially given his young career has already been hampered by injuries. But he can turn into a serviceable defender at that end, like Redick has to stay on the floor in a starting role.