How Bold Do You Want to Be Pistons?

Many years ago when Kobe Bryant wanted to be traded, the Pistons thought they had a deal. Rip Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey and some draft picks were going to Los Angeles for Bryant. Bryant didn’t want to come to Detroit but could be swayed if the Pistons didn’t marginalize their team which they had to do to make the money work. Furthermore, Bryant had a trade kicker. If he was traded, the team who got him had to pony up even more money. So the trade was dead on arrival in the summer of 2007. The season that followed, the Pistons made it to the Eastern Conference Finals and lost to the Celtics. The next year, the Pistons lost in the first round. Goodbye Pistons. Playoff run over.

The Pistons had a six year playoff drought before having a playoff cup of coffee against the Cavs in 2016. They were out the playoffs in April. It’s been a pretty brutal nine years without an elite talent to hitch their wagon to which is why Kyrie Irving is perfect.

He is everything the Pistons are not and do not have. An elite scorer. Check. Beat every point off the dribble. Check. Drop, thirty, forty, fifty. Check. Check. Check. Drop dimes. Check. A clutch shotmaker who doesn’t get scared and will win games for you in the last two minutes. Check. Young. Check. Playoff experience. Check. Been through turmoil. Check. Played with a superstar. Check. A perennial All-Star for the next five years. Check.

Not In the Same League 2016-17 Points FG% 3-Point% Offensive Rating Real Plus-Minus Rank (PG)
Reggie Jackson 14.5 41.9% 35.9% 103 #68
Kyrie Irving 25.2 47.3% 40.1% 116 #12

Kyrie Irving just makes sense. What does not make sense, however, is what the Pistons would give up for him. Reggie Jackson is as good as gone and so what? He’s not the player the Pistons thought they were getting out of OKC, a guard in the Russell Westbrook shadow. Jackson makes poor decisions, he can be selfish at the end of games wanting to be the star, his shooting is streaky and he’s moody. He’s an average point guard, not special. He’s not the hangup to a deal. Neither is Stanley Johnson. It’s not clear if Johnson can play significant minutes for a playoff team. His shooting is catastrophic

FG% 3-Point% Offensive Rating 3-10 feet long two’s
Stanley Johnson 35.3% 29.2% 88 25.5% 26.6%

He has yet to prove he can put the ball in the hole. As a NBA player, Johnson doesn’t make you think twice. But Andre Drummond does.

You don’t trade the second best player on your team, a Kyrie, for average. You trade him for really, really good. You can’t get great- let’s be serious. Everyone knows the Cavs are behind the eight ball with Kyrie’s request. So the Cavs leverage is a little depressed. But Kyrie is still under contract. They don’t have to trade him at all which means the Cavs are fielding offers. Right now, Detroit isn’t a player. They Cavs are still trying to wrestle Devin Booker and Josh Jackson out of Phoenix but the Suns are not parting with Booker which gives the Pistons an inroad if they are willing to part with Drummond.

Earlier in the summer, the Pistons put out feelers about Drummond. They didn’t get much action. It was hard to gauge how serious they were. Drummond had a down year in 2016-17 but he still was a top-10 center. The Pistons would take Tristan Thompson in return. Thompson is an okay defender next to LeBron, is good in pick and roll but he’s not the rebounder Drummond is. He doesn’t intimidate at the rim.

The Center Business Points Rebounds Blocks Defensive Rating Defensive Real Plus-Minus (C)
Andre Drummond 13.6 13.8 1.1 99 #27
Tristan Thompson 8.1 9.2 1.1 109 #30

So it’s Kryie and Thompson coming. Jackson and Drummond going.

If the Pistons decided to go for broke and make the deal, they wouldn’t be contenders. They would have lost three of five starters from last year. (Shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope signed with the Lakers as a free agent). Not to mention if they package Stanley Johnson in the deal the balance of their team has shifted. That matters because at best the Kryrie team is a 7th seed. The Pistons would just have one more year before Irving has an opt out and then they may be holding a bag full of nothing. Kyrie would be a rental.

The Pistons are moving in a new arena downtown, with a new fanbase, and Kyrie would be the perfect player to christen the new digs. Plus he has the star power to recruit players. Kyrie likes the ball but he isn’t considered a ball hog because he had to be second fiddle to King James. Maybe he is selfish, maybe he isn’t. We won’t know that until he gets his own team. Nevertheless, it is Stan Van Gundy that is on the clock and has all the pressure.

The facts. Reggie Jackson doesn’t move the needle. Kyrie Irving does. But there is a cost. It is calculated but worth it by the renewed energy Kyrie Irving’s talent brings. There is addition. There is subtraction. And there is addition by subtraction.

You do the math.

A lottery pick has only two purposes. To develop into that elite player. Or to flip for an elite player. Kyrie is elite. Drummond is the piece to get him. Its how the NBA is built. Buy low. Sell high.

 

photo vial llananba

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