Was Pistons trade a Troy Weaver move for Trajan Langdon?

Sep 26, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA;  New Orleans Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

When the news came in that the Detroit Pistons had taken on the expiring contract of Tim Hardaway Jr. in exchange for Quentin Grimes and three second-round picks my first thought was, “here we go again.” 

Taking on salary dumps for second-round picks was the Troy Weaver special and something he did several times, most recently in the Joe Harris trade.

The THJ trade was a great move for Dallas, who get enough financial relief to make a run at re-signing Derrick Jones Jr. while taking on a nice project player in Grimes. 

It was the inclusion of Grimes that initially put me off this trade, as it seemed like 2-3 second-round picks was the price to take on Hardaway Jr’s contract and that the Pistons should have gotten something else for the addition of Grimes. 

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Call it PTSD from the Weaver era, but taking on past-their-prime players for minimum return is a move that is difficult for me to love or trust. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it for Detroit. 

The Detroit Pistons got a player and assets they can flip  

The biggest difference between this trade and the ones Weaver made is that THJ can still play. He was the third-leading scorer on a team that made the Finals last year, though he did fall off as the season progressed. 

But he will take and make shots, be a threat from the 3-point line and add some veteran leadership to a team full of kids. He only hit 35 percent from long range last season but he’s a known shooter and a guy other teams have to guard. 

Do I think THJ is going to move the needle in the win column? No, not really, but he’s not Joe Harris or DeAndre Jordan. He’s going to play for the Pistons and he will fill a role. 

Second-round picks aren’t real assets until they are. The pick that comes from Toronto next season could be in the 30’s and the Pistons may be able to package all three to move into the first round. 

Good teams are increasingly looking to move out of the back end of the first round to avoid the guaranteed salaries, so second-round picks should increase in value as teams try to avoid the dreaded second apron under the newest CBA.

With a huge influx of international talent, there are more good players than ever in the draft and teams can find players later on, something Langdon has a recent history of doing with guys like Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado. 

So, the Pistons got a rotation veteran on a one-year deal and three picks that they should be able to turn into something better. And as an expiring contract, they may be able to move THJ to a contender at the deadline and reap even more draft assets. 

As for Grimes, now that Holland is on board, I’m not sure there were minutes for him anyway, and even though I like him as a player, he hasn’t been able to stay on the floor and THJ has, another quality that sets him miles apart from the Troy Weaver salary dumps. 

Weaver also used several second-round picks to get off his own mistakes, so we never got to see them turn into assets. I don’t think Langdon is going to make mistakes on project busts like Marvin Bagley III, so he’ll get to use his acquired picks as actual assets. 

In short, I’ve been talked into this trade by several eager fans who obviously aren’t as traumatized as me by the last regime. 

I do think the Pistons paid a premium for those assets (when you see Charlotte got the same deal for taking on Reggie Jackson) but they have the potential to be better picks and each one of them is arguably more valuable than any of the ones Charlotte got. 

It was ultimately an inconsequential deal that Pistons fans spent way too much time arguing about, but it shouldn’t hurt Detroit and has a chance to net them a first-round pick in the future, something they desperately need.