Detroit Pistons Off-Season Grades: Preseason Edition

Jerami Grant #9 of the Detroit Pistons. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Jerami Grant #9 of the Detroit Pistons. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /
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Former Detroit Pistons guard Bruce Brown
Feb 12, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; Former Detroit Pistons guard Bruce Brown (6) dribbles the ball against the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The questionable moves

Traded Bruce Brown to Brooklyn for Dzanan Musa and a second-round pick (Musa has since been waived): D

Detroit Pistons fans (including myself) had become attached to Bruce Brown over his two seasons in Detroit. He had an immediate impact as a perimeter defender, and his offense got better through his time as a Piston.

I am not distraught that the Pistons traded Brown in general, however, this seems to have been one of the worst possible outcomes of a deal involving Brown. He clearly wasn’t in Troy Weaver’s plan, and that’s OK.

However, since they waived Musa (whose contract is more expensive than Brown’s by $400k), they essentially moved Brown for a late future second round pick, and had to pay to do it. The Pistons backcourt rotation has been muddied with the additions of Ellington and Rodney McGruder but, hear me out, what if the Pistons kept Brown instead of those two players?

At worst, he’s out of the rotation like McGruder, and, at best he keeps improving, as he has each year in the league. Plus, you didn’t have to pay for a late second round pick with your cap space. This is just poor asset management.

Related Story. It's time to get over the Bruce Brown trade. light

Trade Luke Kennard and four second-round picks to the Clippers for Rodney McGruder and the 19th pick in the draft: C-

I’m not mad at the idea of trading Luke Kennard as he was one of the Pistons only positive assets. I’m less mad at the idea of grabbing the 19th pick in this draft. I’m pretty perplexed at trading 4 second round picks and taking back Rodney McGruder and his unwanted contract, on top of trading Kennard, the Pistons most promising young player.

Obviously, Luke’s health was a factor in the premium price the Pistons had to pay, but this just feels like too much to give up.

Signed-and-traded Christian Wood and a future, heavily protected first rounder to Houston for Trevor Ariza, the 16th pick (Isaiah Stewart) and a future second: C-

Grabbing the 16th pick in this draft was a great idea, even though the Pistons had to send a heavily protected first round pick back.

Letting Christian Wood leave for a second round pick seems like a mistake. I thought that once this became a Wood sign and trade, the Pistons would be able to take back their protected first, but that wasn’t the case.

Now, if we find out that Wood wanted out, this grade probably gets better. However, all signs point to Troy Weaver not wanting to pay Wood what the Rockets did, instead opting to grab Mason Plumlee for three years. If Weaver really wanted to keep Wood, there were other smaller moves they could’ve made, or not made, to keep him around.

Traded Tony Snell and Khyri Thomas for Dewayne Dedmon (who was waived and stretched): D 

Trading Tony Snell and Khyri Thomas for Dedmon was a good idea, until we realized they traded for him to stretch his contract out for salary cap purposes.

Dedmon could’ve been a nice backup center, or even a Plumlee replacement, but instead he’s on the books for $2.8M/year over the next 5 years. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a ton of money, and shouldn’t really prevent the Pistons from doing anything. It just seems completely unnecessary. Dedmon would’ve been a nice trade chip as a token expiring contract this season as well.

Traded Bradley to Philadelphia for Zhaire Smith; waived and stretched Smith: C

Similar to the Dedmon deal, this was actually looking like a good trade, until we realized Zhaire Smith was only brought in to waive and stretch his contract. Taking a flier on a young player like Smith for cheap seems more advantageous than grabbing him to release him.

A relatively inconsequential move, unless Smith lives up to being a No. 16 overall pick, but seemingly unnecessary nonetheless.

Related Story. Will waiving Zhaire Smith haunt the Detroit Pistons?. light

Signed Mason Plumlee (3 years/$25M): D+

Mason Plumlee is a solid player. Plumlee should be a good pick and roll mate for rookie point guard Killian Hayes, but we didn’t see a whole lot of usefulness from Plumlee during the preseason.

He’s a good passer, but a subpar rebounder and wasn’t doing a whole lot defensively. I don’t mind having Plumlee on the team, and I think he will be beneficial to have around, but a 3-year deal WITH a trade kicker seems excessive. Especially when the alternative was possibly keeping Wood (with some other smaller moves) or Dedmon, whose contract you are paying anyhow.

Drafted Isaiah Stewart (16th): C

I like Isaiah Stewart. I really do, but taking a center in 2020 at No.16 seems like a reach, especially when you immediately go out and grab two centers that will be ahead of him in the rotation for at least the next two years.

Stewart may have more in his bag than he showed us in college. He may have the ability to stretch the floor effectively at some point. His motor is off the chart and he bleeds Detroit Basketball. My issues with this pick come from the alternatives that were in front of us.

Why not take Saddiq Bey at 16?, and move Kennard in another deal (assuming there was an equal, or better deal available now or even during the season)? Why not take a player who fits the current NBA landscape a bit better (Tyrese Maxey, RJ Hampton, etc).

Like I said, I like Isaiah Stewart and I am excited that he’s a Piston, but it feels like there were better routes to take here.