Could the Detroit Pistons find a win-win trade like the Pacers and Kings?

Los Angeles Clippers v Detroit Pistons
Los Angeles Clippers v Detroit Pistons / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

Sometimes, hitting in the NBA Draft in and of itself is not enough to put together a championship contending roster. To put together a squad that can win it all, the talent has to be there, but the fit and style of play must also be symbiotic. It’s the latter that can sometimes force organizations to make difficult, and possibly at the time, unfavorable, decisions. This offseason, the Detroit Pistons could be in this exact position.

Luckily for them, two other franchises recently endured a similar situation. Could Detroit follow in the footsteps of the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings?

The Pacers and Kings Strategy

In 2016, with the 11th pick in the NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder selected Domantas Sabonis, son of NBA legend Arvydas Sabonis, out of Gonzaga. After spending some time in Spain, Domantas played two seasons for the Bulldogs, averaging 13.5 points and 9.4 rebounds. After just one season with the Thunder, the Indiana Pacers acquired the Lithuanian big man, and his career began to take off. During his time with the Pacers, Domantas was a two time All-Star, fan favorite, and considered by most to be a building block for the Pacers. The organization, however, felt otherwise.

Related Story. Will the Pistons have the courage to do what is necessary?. Will the Pistons have the courage to do what is necessary?. dark

The Pacers already had their franchise big man in Myles Turner, who was more than deserving of minutes for Indiana. Indy had also just recently signed four/five man Isaiah Jackson as a part of their future rotation. These two, plus Domantas, created somewhat of a logjam down low. At the point guard position, however, the Pacers were in need of help. They decided to take the more difficult, less traveled road. One that included trading a proven, one time pillar for the future. By doing so, the Pacers were able to add a different game changer. One that better fits their needs. 

Which brings us to the Sacramento Kings. In 2020, the Kings used the 12th overall pick to select Tyrese Haliburton out of Iowa St. The new point guard hit the ground running at the next level, finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting, and was named to the All-Rookie team. In just his second year with the organization, however, Haliburton was traded to the Pacers, along with Buddy Hield and a few others, for Domantas Sabonis. Fans, as well as Haliburton himself, were outwardly shocked. But the Kings were in a similar log jam as the Pacers. With fellow point guard De’Aaron Fox on roster, Haliburton was deemed expendable if a talented player in a position of need were to become available. 

While this trade was shocking for both Kings and Pacers fans alike, most can look back and recognize it for the success it was. Thanks to their front court depth, the Pacers moved on from their young big man star and suddenly had one of the best PGs in the league. The Kings decided to go all in on De'Aaron Fox, and gave him a tremendous running mate by moving on from their star rookie. It's one of the rare instances where a trade was truly a win-win. Even if it stung at first for both fanbases.

Could the Detroit Pistons find a win-win trade?

That brings us to Detroit. The Pistons have an influx of young talent, but unfortunately, a few of those pieces don’t fit perfectly. Specifically speaking Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren. Both players are young, exciting, and fan favorites. However, they both pose issues that could be limiting to Detroit. Jaden Ivey has, for most of his career, been an average to below average three point shooter. Outside of an extremely hot month, Ivey has not been the three point threat Detroit needs. Ivey is just 32 percent from three this year, well below the 37-38 percent that Detroit theoretically needs him at. Pairing him next to Cade or Ausar limits the Pistons offense.

Duren, on the other hand, struggles intensely on the defensive end. Even though he stands at 6-foot-10, Duren is only averaging .8 blocks per game. His defensive rating is just 116, which, at times, cripples Detroit. He’s young, energetic, and is a walking double-double, but to best utilize Duren, he needs to be placed next to defensive minded players. Would the Pistons be open to following the Pacers’ and Kings’ footsteps and move on from either player, if it meant they would be getting back a still young and talented, but better fitting pillar? 

Of course, it should be mentioned that at the time of the Pacers/Kings trade, Domantas was already an All-Star. Both Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey are not All-Stars and, barring any major offseason improvements, won't be next year either. Their return would be different, but the point remains. If other proven talent is available by trade, the temporary sting of trading a fan favorite, like Ivey or Duren, and then some, for other proven talent that fits slightly better, say Trey Murphy III, Michael Porter Jr., Jalen Williams, or Jaren Jackson Jr., the Pistons shouldn’t hesitate. All the players involved are immensly talented in their own right, Duren and Ivey included. But there might be better fits for Detroit's roster out there, in a possible win-win trade.