One of the big questions hanging over the Detroit Pistons this offseason is what they are going to do with all of these centers.
Detroit has five guys who can play the position in Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley III, Kelly Olynyk, Nerlens Noel and Jalen Duren.
Even with some of these players spending time at power forward, there probably aren’t enough minutes for all of them and it’s likely that one or more will be out of the Pistons’ 10-man rotation.
With eight spots likely spoken for, it’s possible that Dwane Casey will keep the last two spots fluid and let matchups and who has the hot hand dictate who gets time.
But it’s still likely that one or more of these guys doesn’t play, and the two most likely candidates are currently Nerlens Noel and Jalen Duren. Stewart and Bagley III are going to be in there, and Olynyk is one of the only Pistons who can shoot, so he’s likely to be in the rotation as well.
The thinking is that this will sort itself out, as neither Olynyk nor Noel have guaranteed deals past this season, so it’s likely that Detroit will trade one or both of them before the deadline.
But if that’s the case, why not just do it now?
Detroit Pistons: The pros of trading a center now
The biggest pro to trading Olynyk or Noel now is that it will open up minutes for the other three guys and set them up with defined roles. The Pistons are unlikely to be good anyway, so why not cash in and give the young guys the reins?
Both Noel and Olynyk have more value to a contending team, and it’s possible that they could get hurt before the deadline setting up a situation where Detroit loses them for nothing. If one of them is going to be on the bench anyway, it’s better to trade that player now to avoid any injuries and clear minutes for the young bigs.
The cons of trading a center now
What’s the hurry?
Most teams around the NBA already have full rosters and this is the time of year when everyone thinks they have a chance, so it’s doubtful any team is going to give up anything of value for either Nerlens Noel or Kelly Olynyk.
It would be better to wait until the trade deadline when there will be more teams desperate for depth and Detroit might be able to get someone to overpay for a rim protector or a big who can shoot 3-pointers.
Jalen Duren is not ready to play right away anyway, so he can learn from these two veterans and then start getting minutes after the trade deadline when there is less clutter at the position.
With no real rush and a bigger possible return waiting, it would behoove the Pistons to be patient, especially considering their other three bigs are all very young and could use some veteran mentorship. That’s not to mention the possibility of injury, as the center depth looks great now, but could quickly be decimated, leaving Detroit in a tough spot.
Either way, it is highly unlikely that all five of these centers are on the Detroit Pistons after the trade deadline, but there is really no reason to rush it.