Troy Weaver season is upon us.
The Pistons general manager has been rolling and giving away since becoming Detroit’s big boss in 2020. He completely flipped the roster in less than two years, completely ridding it of all the players who were there when he inherited it.
On Wednesday, with just over 24 hours until the 2022 NBA Draft, Weaver traded his first major signing as Detroit’s general manager.
Sources say Athleticism the Pistons traded veteran forward Jerami Grant to Portland for a 2025 first-round pick, via Milwaukee. Detroit will also trade the No. 46 pick for the Trailblazers’ 36th pick in Thursday’s draft, while reclaiming its own 2025 second-round pick, which belonged to Portland, sources said. Finally, the Pistons will receive the most favorable of the Trail Blazers and Pelicans’ second-round picks in 2026.
The deal opens up Ay-Ton of cap space for the Pistons. (See what I did there?) Prior to the trade, Detroit entered the season with about $30 million in cap space at its disposal, which was among the league leaders. After the trade, the Pistons have about $43 million. According to the sources, Detroit is expected to pursue Phoenix Suns big man and 2018 No. 1 Deandre Ayton in the open market. The Pistons can also look to the trade block to use that cap space if Ayton stays in Phoenix or lands elsewhere.
However, Detroit doesn’t have to use all the cap space it collected this offseason. It’s possible the Pistons sit still, accept bad contracts and collect more assets. The key here is flexibility, which the organization hasn’t had in recent years. Blake Griffin’s dead money is off the books, and Detroit has several intriguing young players, highlighted by last year’s No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham, and has several paths forward to create a relevant product in the Motor City.
Now, back. It was widely expected and rumored that Grant would bring back, at a minimum, a lottery-level pick in a deal. That, clearly, hasn’t happened here, and, sources say, this deal is the best offer the Pistons have received on Grant, dating back even to the February trade deadline. Ahead of the trade deadline and this offseason, other potential deals were discussed, per sources. But as far as concrete offers on the table go, it was the best Detroit has received for the services of Grant, who is eligible for the extension this summer.
With the 2022 draft just a day away, Grant’s trade would seem to signal that Iowa’s Keegan Murray is under serious consideration with Detroit’s fifth selection if available. However, Purdue’s Jaden Ivey and Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin remain in play. It’s also possible that, if the Pistons were able to secure Ayton’s services this offseason, third-year big man Isaiah Stewart or the Third-year forward Saddiq Bey could fill the power forward void. Again, Detroit has created several options for itself going forward.
It’s still hard to predict what Weaver’s next move will be, but the feeling is that the Pistons won’t do anything dramatic on the trade front in the next 24 hours. It’s possible, however, that Detroit, given its abundance of caps, could return to the late lottery if a player like, say, Memphis’ Jalen Duren falls out of the top 10. According to reports, Charlotte is looking to move pick No. 13 or No. 15 if a team is willing to accept Gordon Hayward’s contract. The Pistons have the wherewithal to execute such a deal if they choose.
On the surface, the trade of Grant, a veteran in his prime, signals that the Pistons will continue to slow this restoration. This is not necessarily the case. Adding someone like Ayton makes Detroit more competitive in the short term. Additionally, having the cap space to make a trade for a more experienced player also requires a turn.
For the first time in a long time, the Pistons have multiple streets they can walk down to build something substantial. Regaining flexibility and gaining intriguing prospects through the draft and via trade were two of Weaver’s goals early in his tenure. In less than three years, the CEO has done both.
Harper: Ranking Jerami Grant’s Trade in Portland
(Jerami Grant top photo credit: Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images)