Detroit Pistons: Best trade in team history with the Boston Celtics

Since we are in the down time of the NBA offseason, now is a great time to look back at some of the important history of the Detroit Pistons.

Like all teams in the NBA, the Pistons have a deep history of trades, both good and bad. Some trades take years to evaluate, as there might be draft picks involved or young players whose careers need to play out before the trade can be fairly critiqued.

But this particular trade involving the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks was easy to judge right away and had immediate payoff for the Detroit Pistons.

Detroit has a long history of trades with the Celtics even though the two teams have been bitter rivals, as they have made 10 trades overall dating back to 1950 when Detroit was still the Fort Wayne Pistons.

But no trade was more important or valuable to Detroit than the 3-way deal between the Hawks and Celtics that took place on February 19, 2004.

Detroit Pistons: The trade that brought a title to Motown

No trade in team history was more important than the one that brought Rasheed Wallace to Detroit. Although Wallace technically came from Atlanta (after playing one game with the Hawks) it took the Boston Celtics to facilitate it.

Celtics Get
Chucky Atkins
Lindsey Hunter
2004 1st-round Pick (Tony Allen)
Hawks Get
Chris Mills
Željko Rebrača
Bob Sura
2004 1st-round pick (Josh Smith)
Pistons Get
Rasheed Wallace
Mike James

The Detroit Pistons were already a very good team and a title contender before this trade, but adding Rasheed Wallace was the final piece to put them over the top.

Wallace was the perfect addition to the roster, as he was a “stretch” four who could score from all three levels and was one of the best team defenders in Pistons’ history.

Detroit gave up very little to get him in retrospect, especially when you see that those first round picks ended up being Tony Allen and Josh Smith, who were both very good players, but wouldn’t have had nearly the impact that Sheed did in Detroit.

I always thought Lindsey Hunter was one of the most underrated Pistons of all time, but Detroit was loaded at guard and Sheed was the emotional leader of the team and the glue that made the defense one of the best in league history.

Detroit has made some lousy trades over the years, but this one wasn’t one of them. It solidified Joe Dumars’ reputation as a GM (which he tried his best to ruin after) and brought a title to Detroit. This trade was so great that Pistons fans have largely given Dumars a pass for the many bad decisions that followed.

I’d like to formally thank the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks for helping make this trade happen.