Who would the Detroit Pistons protect in an expansion draft?

Head coach Dwane Casey of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Head coach Dwane Casey of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Who would the Detroit Pistons look to retain during a potential expansion?

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made comments the other day that eluded to the possibility of an expansion team being added to the NBA in the near future. Given that an expansion draft would need to be held, who would the Detroit Pistons protect?

Each team in the league is allowed to protect eight players. If an unprotected goes unselected, they remain with their team. It’s relatively easy to think of the first few names that would be safe, those being Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, and Sekou Doumbouya.

The problem, is that’s already half of the available slots. Arguments can be made for seemingly every single player on the roster, but not the aforementioned four. They’re safe.

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One would have to imagine that Svi Mykhailiuk would also receive protection. It may seem a bit strange, but he’s the only player outside of Sekou and Blake Griffin that Troy Weaver didn’t either trade or move on from this offseason.

Out of all the players acquired over the last few years, Svi remains, and it has to be for a reason. Because of that, you can safely assume he’s viewed as an important piece of the the rebuild puzzle.

When it comes to someone like Derrick Rose, the issue is that he’s set to become a free agent this summer. For all intents and purposes, we’re assuming this expansion draft would be held around the same time he’d become unrestricted.

So because of that, if Detroit were to re-sign him, then they’d obviously like to keep him around to mentor Hayes. However due to the uncertainty of his future on this roster, we can leave him unprotected for now.

Given the results of Josh Jackson‘s career up to this point, it may feel a bit strange to make a legitimate case to keep him in Detroit for this purpose. However, if this reclamation project is to ever work, it feels like it would be playing for his hometown team.

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Jackson ended the preseason with two incredibly strong showings on offense, and even showcased some athleticism on the other end as well.

Additionally, he opened the regular season with a 19 point 6 rebound performance, while shooting 57.1% from the field. It’s incredibly early, but he’s trending upwards.

The entire point of several moves Weaver made this offseason was to take fliers on players who need a fresh start. Jackson fits that mold. Because of that, he’s going to be the sixth player protected for the Pistons.

The final two spots essentially come down to three players:

Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, and Blake Griffin.

Grant may have the best case here, considering he was inarguably Detroit’s biggest free agent land this offseason. Winning him away from the Denver Nuggets for the exact same contract that they had offered him was a surprise, but a welcome one to be sure.

Weaver picked out Grant specifically for his defensive tenacity and because they’ve developed a significant relationship over the last decade, dating back to Grant’s days in AAU.

He feels like too much of a “culture setter” to let him walk just one year into his three year contract. Grant’s going to get the seventh protected spot.

As we look at the final spot, there’s some good news!

Whether it’s Griffin’s 2021-2022 player option worth $38.9 million, or Plumlee’s three-year deal worth $24 million, an expansion team likely wouldn’t want to take on they money from either of them in year one.

Especially with Griffin, given he’d only be guaranteed to play there for a single season.

Because of that, and especially with Griffin’s case, there’s a legitimate possibility that whichever one is left unprotected will end up coming back to Detroit anyway, so it’s not really too big of a deal.

However in the even that we let Blake go for nothing, that wouldn’t feel too great either. As valuable as Plumlee could end up being to this Pistons team moving forward with Hayes, you’d rather lose him for nothing as opposed to Griffin.

Whatever the case ends up being, it won’t be the wrong decision as long as those first four players are prioritized.

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