The Detroit Pistons traded away one of their best players at the deadline this year, creating an odd contingency.
In the final minutes of the trade deadline on February 6th of this year, the Detroit Pistons finally decided to trade away Andre Drummond. Arguably the franchise’s best player this decade, it was a move that was a long time coming.
Along with this officially welcomed in the (also) long awaited admittance that the team was in desperate need of a rebuild. This move sealed the organization’s fate for the next few seasons.
This was evident as soon as the details of the trade became available. Drummond was sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for John Henson, Brandon Knight, and a future second round pick. The first reaction for many was frustration, the lackluster return felt unnecessary.
While it’s admittedly still okay to feel that way and in all honesty, you’re not wrong, the reason that this move occurred in the first place was to alleviate future cap space, and deny Drummond the choice to opt into his 2020-2021 player option worth $28.7 million.
After he had originally led us to believe that he would become a free agent in the summer of 2020, some felt that Detroit should get whatever they can for him. In a sense, they did.
There are a few issues that were and are still being created by this move though.
After he was traded, he made it clear that he now planned to opt-in to his player option. As of last week, that was reiterated. While it’s great that all that salary won’t be the Pistons problem anymore, it would have been at the very least nice to know that we could have kept him for another season.
That way if there was a team who needed a rental, (as he’d be on an expiring contract) Detroit could have potentially gotten a better deal on him. One that would have involved more than just expiring and a future draft pick that will in all likelihood be difficult to put a name to.
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If you’re skeptical that this could have happened, that’s reasonable. However, if the plan was to hire a General Manager this summer, (as it was mentioned in Troy Weaver’s introductory press conference) why not wait until they’re hired?
Giving that GM the chance to flex their muscles early on in their tenure by finding an appropriate deal for Drummond would have been a fantastic first step.
However, this is where another issue comes up. If Detroit hadn’t traded him, then the team wouldn’t have nearly as much open cap space this summer which is what helped make the Pistons a semi-attractive landing spot for someone.
Ed Stefanski created flexibility for Detroit this offseason. Flexibility that could have potentially been the deciding factor in Weaver’s decision to ultimately join the front office.
So because of that, you look back at the trade and shrug your shoulders a bit.
Yeah, it would have been pretty great to see what Weaver could have gotten for Drummond, considering it likely would have been a little bit more exciting. The market was never going to be substantial for him, but something greater than a salary dump? Probably.
But at the same time, Stefanski’s move helped turn the overall direction of the franchise and ultimately put them in a better position.