Pistons well positioned to take advantage of Heat in trade

Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons
Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

The Detroit Pistons have had a moderate start to the offseason, which has included shedding a lot of dead weight and taking on useful veterans in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Tobias Harris. 

The Pistons still have cap space, more than any team, so are well-positioned in the coming days and weeks to be part of a deal. Teams like the Bucks and Heat haven’t done much to keep pace with the Celtics, 76ers and Knicks and are still looking for ways to add impact players. 

According to Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald (Subscription), the Heat are biding their time and still hoping to add a star to a team that finished 8th in the Eastern Conference last season and has watched most of its competition get better: 

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"According to three people who have had contact with the Heat, Miami wants to maintain flexibility with that space in case an opportunity to add a high-level player becomes available. There have been Heat trade discussions with teams - including one with substantial cap space - though further details are unclear. One of the sources said Miami also wants to see what good players become available in the trade market in the days and weeks ahead."

A team with “substantial cap space” you say? Might that team be the Detroit Pistons? 

What can the Detroit Pistons squeeze out of the Miami Heat in a trade? 

We’ve heard a lot about the possibility of taking on contracts for assets and Trajan Langdon has already done it twice this offseason, once to move up in the draft and once in the THJ trade. 

The Heat could potentially trade Duncan Robinson into the Pistons’ cap space, which would clear nearly $20 million. The question is what the Heat would be willing to add to sweeten the pot for Detroit. Robinson’s contract only has one more fully-guaranteed year, so it’s not bad, especially considering he’s a productive player who expanded his game last season. 

Would the Heat be willing to add a protected 1st-round pick? It’s hard to see what other assets they have, as most of their future second-round picks are tied up in complicated protections and they need their recently-acquired young players for depth. 

It’s a trade worth exploring for the Pistons, and if the Heat are desperate enough to clear space and have a clear target in mind, Detroit might be able to put the squeeze on them.