December 15th marked the official beginning of NBA trade season and the Detroit Pistons are expected to make moves before the 2024 trade deadline.
Fans are hoping for an impact talent, but the Pistons are limited by a lack of trade assets and because of the pick they owe the New York Knicks.
Because of the Stepien Rule, the Pistons can only trade a distant first-round pick until the one they owe the Knicks conveys.
There are protections on the pick that all but guarantee it's not going to convey this season, meaning the Pistons don't have a deep reservoir of trade assets to go out and get a star.
At least not yet.
Can the Pistons trade their 2024 NBA Draft pick?
The answer to this question is no and yes. The Pistons cannot trade their pick right now, as it would potentially be a violation of the Stepien Rule, which states that teams must have at least one first-round draft pick every other year.
In other words, you can't trade your first-rounders two years in a row unless you have extra ones, which the Pistons don't. Trading their pick now wouldn't change the fact that they still owe the Knicks a pick. Since it could be conveyed in 2025, they are forbidden from trading it right now because that would potentially be two years in a row without a pick.
How to get around the Stepien Rule
However, teams get around this rule all of the time by trading on draft night. So the Pistons could make a deal with another team, choose the player they want, and then trade the rights to that player. Since they are not technically trading a pick, it does not violate the rules.
So the Pistons can trade their pick, but they will have to wait until draft night, pick a player for someone else and then make the trade.
The other way they could use their 2024 draft pick as a trade asset is if they were able to acquire a second first-round pick in 2024 or 2025. This might be their best chance, as they could potentially trade someone like Bojan Bogdanovic, pick up an extra pick, and then use their pick as trade bait. Considering it will almost certainly have max odds for the #1 pick, it could be valuable, even in a weak draft.
So if you were hoping for Detroit to use what will almost certainly be a top-5 pick to make a big trade before the deadline, you are going to have to wait.