Free Agency in the NBA is coming to a screen near you in less than 24 hours. Still, Piston GM Troy Weaver has already made a huge splash for the Pistons. Of course, he made the splash by taking on contracts that will limit the Piston’s ability to go after a big name in free agency, specifically local star Miles Bridges. I mentioned in a previous post that Bridges is a must have for this young Pistons group. Freakish athleticism, ability to play both forward spots, decent outside shooting, and young, Bridges would be a perfect fit. Fear not though, the Detroit Free Press reported that Weaver will not be pursuing big name free agents. Nothing made this report more believable than today’s trade with the Knicks.
Weaver and the Knicks decided to do a trade that allowed the Knicks to shed the contracts of Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks. The Knicks want to go after Jalen Brunson in free agency and needed to drop contracts. It makes sense- you have to get rid of bad contracts in order to sign good contracts. How does this work for the Pistons though? They get two contracts that cut their cap room in about half and get some cash and two second round draft picks. Um, giving away your ability to get a budding star in Miles Bridges that could make Detroit must see basketball and grow with Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham in order to get two second round picks that probably will spend most of their career in the G-League does not sound great unless the Pistons got solid players in return.
So, let’s look at what we got. Nerlens Noel was a big name coming out of Kentucky. Noel now joins a big man group that has recent Detroit draft picks in Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren- you know the guy that we basically traded fringe All Star Jerami Grant in order to get, Marvin Bagley III- who Weaver just extended an offer to bring back and says is an important piece of the Piston future, and Kelly Olynyk. I know that Weaver likes centers, but this isn’t the 80s Bad Boys. Carrying four centers that aren’t shooters and oft injured, last year, Olynyk and not having a power forward is not the strongest idea. Actually it is a bad idea.
Alec Burks is at least a solid choice in that he is a good shooter and a decent defender. I was a huge Burks fan when he was in Utah. Despite some early injury issues, Burks suited up for 81 games last year, so he will hopefully be durable and add back court depth. Still, I don’t get how Jerami Grant didn’t “fit” the Pistons youth movement but Alec Burks does. The Pistons took on $20 million dollars in this deal to grab a big that can’t shoot, and is only 100 days younger, and a guy two years older than Grant.
The only thing keeping me from burning all of my Pistons gear is that there is some sense in taking a cautious approach. Taking on a max contract on a Deandre Ayton or Miles Bridges does leave the Pistons locked in long term, think Blake Griffin and Josh Smith. Still, you have to take chances. Pairing Miles Bridges and Jaden Ivey, two guys with Michigan ties, with Cade Cunningham would bring life to a team that has struggled. It was only a couple of years ago that people were turning down free Pistons tickets. The organization needs hope soon. Troy Weaver seems to be taking a Philadelphia-esque approach to this rebuild, but at least the 76ers at least had a catchy slogan.