The Detroit Pistons’ rebuild is in its 4th season and it’s either been a spectacular failure or is going exactly to plan, depending on who you ask.
One thing is for certain, the “restoration” is not showing up in the win column, as the Pistons once again have the worst record in the league early in the 2023-24 season.
Troy Weaver has done a very good job of finding talent in the draft, but there are other parts of the job where his moves have been questionable. Part of his modus operandi so far has been to take on dead money in exchange for draft capital, something he did early in the process and has continued to do over the last three seasons.
One of his first moves was to trade Tony Snell and Khyri Thomas for Dewayne Dedmon, who he promptly stretched before he ever played a game. That was back in 2020 and Dedmon is still on the books this season and next for $2.7 million. I still haven’t figured that one out, but I digress.
Dead money Dedmon aside, Weaver has taken on salary dumps in exchange for “assets” in each of the last three summers and has painfully little to show for it.
Detroit Pistons draft picks and the art of the salary dump
In his first full offseason, Weaver traded draft busts Sekou Doumbouya and Jahlil Okafor to the Nets in exchange for taking on the $20 million owed to DeAndre Jordan. The Pistons bought him out for $10 million and got four second-round picks for their troubles.
Next summer it was Nerlens Noel’s turn, as the Pistons took on his dead money (another $10 million) for a single second-round pick.
Up next was Joe Harris, whose $20 million the Pistons ate in exchange for two more second-round picks.
So if you are adding all this up, that’s $40 million spent for seven second-round picks, and that doesn’t even include the $20 million for Alec Burks and Monte Morris, who were really salary dumps as well but at least can contribute.
They’ve already traded some of those picks in other deals, somehow still OWE second-round picks over the next two seasons and will really have to wait until 2026 before they cash in their big treasure of second-rounders.
Second-round picks really aren’t assets, as they can be bought and often change hands several times before they are actually conveyed.
You have to wonder sometimes if Troy Weaver just likes spending Tom Gores’ money, as for the $60 million in salary they’ve taken on over the last few seasons, they have Alec Burks, Monte Morris, Joe Harris and a few second-round picks to show for it.
It makes sense to do these kinds of deals when you are rebuilding, and I get that Weaver was trying to clear the slate, but it seems like they should have gotten more for helping teams clear that much payroll.