The Detroit Pistons will head into the 2020 NBA Draft with a single pick to make. Can they salvage another one?
Surprise! The Detroit Pistons slipped 2 spots in the NBA draft lottery and will be picking 7th this year. I know you’re completely shocked that we didn’t move up in the lottery for the first time in our history, as am I, but I’ll be honest with you, picking at 7 is not a bad thing in this superstar-less draft.
The knock in this draft is that there is no clear top guy, but there are a plethora of players who would normally go in the 3-15 range. At 7, you’ll have a very nice selection of those guys.
Now I’m not here to talk at you about who the Pistons could take at 7, I’m here to talk at you about who the Pistons can make a deal with to grab a mid to late first round pick. The concept is simple.
With the salary cap in flux, and teams looking to shed salary to either avoid the luxury tax or maintain some roster flexibility this summer, there are some prime teams who I anticipate would be willing to part with their first round pick in order to dump some bad salary in Detroit.
With some of the most cap space in the league this summer, the Pistons are in a prime position to take advantage of the salary cap uncertainties.
The first team that screams at me is the team that won the lottery and got the number 1 pick. The Minnesota Timberwolves made that lucky jump AND have the 17th and 33rd picks in the draft.
With the projected salary cap staying put around $109 million, the Wolves are already over that once they make their number 1 pick, sitting around $120 million. Here’s the kicker, they presumably would like to retain Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez who they traded for this year.
To do so without leaping over the luxury tax line, they’d need to move James Johnson’s final year of his contract (it’s a player option which he’ll undoubtedly opt into) and to do so, they may be willing to part with the 17th and 33rd picks.
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I know it’s not a pick in next year’s much anticipated draft, but like I said, this year is full of players who’d normally go in the 3-15 range, and at least one or two guys we like will almost certainly slip to 17.
Bringing on James Johnson’s $16 million contract may seem like a bit much, but you can always flip expiring contracts to bring back worse, longer-term deals in exchange for more assets. That’s how the Pistons can most effectively rebuild this team.
The Portland Trailblazers are going to be a really interesting team to watch this summer. For next season, they’re already sitting at the salary cap limit which makes it tough for them to improve their roster this summer.
They have the 16th pick in the draft, and could look to move on from Trevor Ariza’s $12.8 million expiring contract, or Rodney Hood’s $6 million player option to create a semblance of ability to make roster moves this summer and bolster their depth.
The kicker here is that Ariza’s contract is only $1.8 million guaranteed, so the Pistons would likely need to send something of relative value back in order for the Blazers to move their 16th pick in this deal.
The Boston Celtics have three first round picks, 14, 26, and 30. The Celtics may not necessarily have any contracts they NEED to move and get rid of to clear space as they remain a competitive force in the east, but they have too many picks this year.
Can we have one, please? In all seriousness I could see them moving the 26 or 30 picks for a second rounder and some cash. They’re at a point where they have roughly 14 players under contract next year, and don’t need to add two late first rounders to this group.
Last but not least, the Philadelphia 76ers are going to be in cap hell through the ‘22-‘23 season. They have $147 million committed for the next two years, and $138 million committed in ’22-’23 which is WAY over the projected $109 million salary cap number.
The biggest issue they have is that each of their top four paid guys (Ranging from $27 million/year to $35 million/year) are under contract for at least the next three years.
The Sixers are likely going to need to give up a dump truck full of assets to rid themselves of Al Horford’s monster deal. Don’t get me wrong, Horford is still an extremely useful player, but he may not be worth half that deal at this point.
This year they have the 21st pick and all of their own 1st round picks for the foreseeable future. Personally, I think it’d be a terrible idea to take on Horford’s contract, but for a package of first round picks and Matisse Thybulle, I’d consider it.
The moral of the story is that this is a year where having a mid to late first round pick may get you the same value as the number 7 pick. Having both would help add another piece to this rebuilding roster. With a good chunk of salary cap space, the Pistons are in a prime position to restore their asset cupboard.