Pistons rumors: Trading for a talented, lower-cost player

Detroit Pistons v Atlanta Hawks
Detroit Pistons v Atlanta Hawks / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

It is nearly May, and there is nothing for fans of the Detroit Pistons to do but watch the playoffs, dream of being there and speculate about how to do it. 

But speculation is all we have at this point, as the Pistons are still without a president of basketball operations, who will reportedly be making all of the decisions this summer. 

Some feel the Pistons should try to hold onto their young talent and supplement it through free agency, while others think the only way for meaningful change is to break up this core and cash in while they can. 

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James Edwards III of The Athletic recently suggested a trade that falls into the second category, sending two young players and their 2024 pick to the Nets for two better-fitting wings. 

His idea drew mixed reviews from fans, as well as from colleague Sam Vecenie, who offered some alternatives in a recent conversation (subscription). 

A lower cost player the Detroit Pistons could target in a trade 

Vecenie liked Edwards III’s idea but said he didn’t know if the Nets would go for it and speculated that there might be better offers out there if a guy like Mikal Bridges does become available. 

He also added that the Pistons should not splash out all of their assets on players who have two years or less left on a deal, as they could be bad again next season and end up having to trade those guys anyway, which would be a waste of their trade assets. 

I get what he is saying, but also think the Pistons aren’t in a position to be picky. They may have to bring in someone on a shorter deal and hope they can win them over. I also agree that the Pistons shouldn’t waste money in free agency on guys like Tobias Harris, who will be expensive and not move the needle much more than Bojan Bogdanovic did. Are they similar players? Not really, but their impact wouldn’t be vastly different unless Tobias was just part of a much larger plan. 

Vecenie suggested another path, which is to target a team looking to shed salary, a strategy for which we offered a few suggestions. 

His was to target De’Andre Hunter from the Hawks, a good, not great player who might be a better fit and wouldn’t cost the Pistons much more than cap space. They wouldn’t have to give up any young players to get him and his contract runs for three more seasons: 

"For instance, is there a chance that the Hawks just look to get off of the De’Andre Hunter contract for tax avoidance and Jalen Johnson-based reasons this summer? Hunter can at least shoot, and, while he hasn’t reached the immense defensive promise that many thought he had pre-draft, he is at least a big body that you can throw on other opposing players and is at least conscientious on that end. To me, a deal to acquire Hunter’s expensive three-year, $70 million remaining deal for a couple of second-round picks is preferable to the Pistons spending way too much money to sign someone like Tobias Harris. At least Hunter is still only 26 years old and on the right age timeline. "

Hunter has been connected to the Pistons in trade rumors before and does fit the profile of a player they need, as he can defend and knocked down 38.5 percent of his 3-point shots this season on over five attempts per game.  

He’s also significantly younger than a guy like Harris and on a reasonable deal that will pay him just over $20 million for each of the next three seasons. 

Hunter is not an All-Star and never will be, but he might represent a better option than overpaying for a mediocre free agent or packaging all of their trade assets together to get a non-All-Star.