DETROIT – New general manager Troy Weaver knew he had to come in and tear down the Detroit Pistons’ roster, and he sure didn’t waste any time.
The Pistons were one of the most active teams during the NBA draft, making three trades and four draft picks -- ultimately adding eight new players and sending two elsewhere.
Within days of the NBA opening up offseason transactions, Weaver has given the Pistons a completely different look -- a much-needed one, at that.
Bruce Brown trade
Weaver didn’t wait until draft day to start dealing. On Monday, the first day for transactions, he dealt Bruce Brown to the Brooklyn Nets for a second-round pick in next year’s draft.
The Pistons also received forward Dzanan Musa in the deal.
Brown was the team’s second-round pick in 2018 and grew into a solid role last season, averaging 8.9 points, 4 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game. He shot 34.4% from 3-point range and 44.3% overall.
While Brown is a fine player, it’s not a major loss for a Pistons team looking multiple years down the line.
Musa, 21, was the 29th overall pick in the 2018 draft and appeared in 40 games last season, shooting 37.2% and just 24.4% from three while averaging 4.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.
Musa’s $2,002,800 team option for this season was exercised in October, and the Pistons can decided whether they want to keep him for $3,615,054 in 2021-22.
Just hours before the NBA draft began, Weaver went out and added a second first-round pick, snagging No. 16 overall from the Houston Rockets.
Trevor Ariza, 35, also came to Detroit in the deal, but it’s unclear if he will ever actually play for the Pistons or if they will simply buy out his contract. He’s owed $12,800,000 this year, but only $1,800,000 is guaranteed.
The Pistons gave Houston a future first-round pick that’s heavily protected for the next six seasons. Detroit keeps the pick if it’s in the top 16 each of the next four years. The following two years, Detroit keeps the pick as long as it’s in the top 10. In the seventh year, the Pistons keep the pick if it’s in the top nine.
By year eight, the pick turns into a second-rounder if it hasn’t gone unprotected. That means the Pistons got the No. 16 overall pick and guaranteed the return draft pick will either be worse than No. 16 or won’t be sent to Houston for at least four more years.
Luke Kennard trade
Weaver acquired a third first-round pick for the Pistons just moments after making his second selection.
The Pistons joined the Clippers and Nets as part of the three-team trade that sent Landry Shamet from Los Angeles to Brooklyn.
Weaver shipped Luke Kennard, the team’s first-round pick in 2017, to the Clippers in exchange for the No. 19 overall pick in the draft.
There was some disappointment on social media about moving on from Kennard, but it’s pretty clearly the right move for the Pistons in their current state. Not only has Kennard battled regular injuries throughout his young career -- 73 games as a rookie, 63 games the second year and 28 games (out of 66) most recently -- he’s also heading into the final year of his deal.
Most likely, the Pistons would have had Kennard for this season, when they won’t be contenders either way, only to see him walk away before 2021-2022.
This allowed the Pistons to select a first-round player who will be under their control for at least four years -- a much more realistic timeline for the team to make a run.
Detroit also took on the contract of Rodney McGruder in the deal. He’ll make an even $5,000,000 this season and $5,370,000 next season. That’s a bigger deal for the Clippers, who want to spend in free agency to win a title, than the Pistons, who can afford to pay that money while the deal expires.
McGruder averaged 3.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and shot 39.8% from the field last season -- the first of his three-year, $15 million contract.
Weaver’s final move of the night was to trade back into the second round, where the Pistons originally did not own a selection.
He traded “future considerations” to the Utah Jazz in exchange for the No. 38 overall pick and Tony Bradley, another contract that a trade partner simply wanted to remove from the books.
Bradley was the 28th overall pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017 and averaged 4.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and shot 66.7% from the floor for the Jazz last season. He played in 58 games, averaging 11.4 minutes.
The 22-year-old will make $3,542,060 this season after the Jazz exercised his team option in October.
First pick: No. 7 overall
The biggest hole on the Detroit roster was at the point guard position, so it’s no surprise Weaver addressed that need right off the bat.
With the No. 7 pick in the draft, he selected 19-year-old Killian Hayes, a 6-foot-5 point guard from France.
Hayes averaged 12.8 points, 6.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game in the EuroCup league. Considered by many to be one of the top talents in the draft, the Pistons were excited to land him outside the top five picks.
Hayes be the most talented passer in the draft class, but his shooting is still a question mark. He made 39% of his 3-point attempts and 90.9% of his free throws in 10 EuroCup games, but hasn’t had as much success in larger sample sizes.
At the worst, the Pistons got a solid two-way player with a high ceiling and room to grow.
Second pick: No. 16 overall
Weaver’s second pick was a bit of a surprise, as he went with undersized Washington center Isaiah Stewart.
The 6-foot-9 freshman was an absolute beast for the Huskies his only college season, scoring 17 points per game while averaging 8.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and shooting 57% from the field.
He’s not much of a threat away from the basket, but Stewart is a hard-working player inside, an elite rebounder and a reliable finisher. He will help solidify a thin front court for the Pistons right away.
Third pick: No. 19 overall
Nobody expected Saddiq Bey to be available at pick No. 19, but there he was, so the Pistons snatched him up.
Bey exploded as a sophomore at Villanova, averaging 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assist per game. Most importantly, he shot 47.7% from the field and 45.1% from beyond the arc last season.
With a 6-foot-8 frame, Bey is the type of shooting wing the Pistons needed to add after drafting questionable shooters with two prior picks. Altogether, the three provide a nice foundation as Weaver rebuilds the roster.
Fourth pick: No. 38 overall
In the second round, the Pistons went completely off the beaten path, selecting Vanderbilt guard Saben Lee despite bigger name -- including Michigan State’s Cassius WInston -- still on the board.
Lee’s performance this year was undeniably impressive, though, as he shot 48.3% from the field and averaged 18.6 points and 4.2 assists per game for the Commodores.
The scouting report on Lee is speed, quickness and a desire to get to the basket. He’s not a great shooter, but makes up for it by driving.
Behind Hayes, Lee provides immediate insurance and depth at the point guard position.
To recap, here are’s what Weaver added and subtracted from the roster this week:
- Added: Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey, Saben Lee, Dzanan Musa, Trevor Ariza, Rodney McGruder and Tony Bradley
- Subtracted: Bruce Brown and Luke Kennard
The Pistons will also forfeit a future first-round pick to the Rockets, but that will be at least four years down the line unless the Pistons become a playoff team before then. The “future considerations” from the Utah trade will also need to be sorted out.
Weaver also sold a second-round pick to the Rockets for $4.6 million. That pick was from the Lakers, so it will likely be in the 56-60 overall range -- not a huge loss.
The NBA salary cap for the upcoming season is set at $109,140,000. Here’s how the current roster shapes up, with contract values for the 2020-2021 season.
- Blake Griffin: $36,595,996
- Player option for $38,957,028 next year -- the last year of the deal.
- Tony Snell: $12,178,571 (last year of deal)
- Derrick Rose: $7,682,927 (last year of deal)
- Sekou Doumbouya: $3,449,400
- Two more team option years after this season -- worth $3,613,680 in 2021-2022 and $5,539,771 in 2022-2023.
- Svi Mykhailiuk: $1,663,861 (last year of deal)
- The Pistons exercised his team option the day before the draft (Tuesday, Nov. 17).
- Khyri Thomas: $1,663,861 (not guaranteed)
- Justin Patton: $1,762,796 (not guaranteed)
- Trevor Ariza: $12,800,000 ($1,800,000 guaranteed)
- Rodney McGruder: $5,000,000
- Will make $5,370,000 in 2021-2022 -- the last year of the deal.
- Dzanan Musa: $2,002,800
- Tony Bradley: $3,542,060
Assuming they buy out Ariza, the Pistons’ payroll before signing their draft picks would be at $84,279,959 -- that’s if they pay up for Thomas and Patton. Without those two, the payroll would be at $80,853,302.
How does Deividas Sirvydis -- last season’s second-round pick -- fit into the mix now that he’s returned from overseas for training camp? Will Jordan Bone and Louis King make the team?
Will the Pistons resign Christian Wood, last offseason’s diamond in the rough?
An early look at the 15-man roster would look something like this:
- Probably on the roster (12): Blake Griffin, Tony Snell, Derrick Rose, Sekou Doumboya, Svi Mykhailiuk, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey, Saben Lee, Rodney McGruder, Dzanan Musa, Tony Bradley
- Questionable (7): Khyri Thomas, Justin Patton, Trevor Ariza, Deividas Sirvydis, Jordan Bone, Louis King, Christian Wood
- Gone (6): Luke Kennard (trade), Bruce Brown (trade), Brandon Knight (free agent), Langston Galloway (free agent), Thon Maker (free agent), Jordan McRae (free agent)
Obviously, if the Pistons have $25-$30 million to spend in free agency, some of the roster spots could be filled by players currently outside the organization. But the way Weaver worked Wednesday, it feels like he’s looking a couple years farther down the line.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Pistons take it easy on the free agent market for a year and use some of that cap space to take on more expiring deals and acquire draft picks in return. If that’s the case, Weaver’s options really open up next offseason.
Only Griffin’s $38,957,028, McGruder’s $5,370,370 and Doumbouya’s $3,613,680 are officially on the books for the 2021-2022 season. That’s $47,941,078, which will be well below the salary cap.
Take out both Griffin’s massive deal and McGruder’s contract by 2022-2023 at the latest, and Weaver is free from the entire mess he inherited, with all the team’s young assets more or less in place.