Inside the Pistons draft night, how they got Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, what lies ahead

Inside the Pistons draft night, how they got Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, what lies ahead

Trying to figure out Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is like putting a puzzle together. You better come back to it another day, building and building, until finally the picture becomes a frame on your wall.

Since taking office in 2020, Weaver has made several moves that, at first glance, may leave you feeling empty or confused. Then another movement occurs the next day, extending into the previous one, and so on, until the image fixes you completely. The man tasked with restoring Detroit to a relevant franchise after more than 15 years of inactivity has continually preached patience as he and his staff build the Pistons “the right way,” not skipping steps and building through the draft and unique ways to add assets. It’s also how he handles his transactions, as many are individual moves that collectively lead to a greater as the ink dries on the paper.

Within days, a simple equation can turn into AP Algebra.

This week, Weaver hosted a masterclass on patience and execution. On Wednesday, with just over 24 hours until the start of the NBA draft, the Pistons traded veteran forward Jerami Grant to the Trail Blazers for a 2025 first-round pick via Milwaukee, the 36th pick in the NBA draft. 2022 and a pair. future seconds. On the surface, Grant’s return seemed disappointing given that he is a two-way wing, at his peak, and has been the subject of commercial conversations for most of this calendar year. The ghosts of Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon rose from the depths of hell as fans pondered the idea of ​​the Pistons hauling nearly $50 million in cap space after dealing Grant in the trade exception of the size of a Portland Grant. A tortured fanbase thought they were entering a revolving door of horror.

However, as draft night rolled around and the draft’s top guard, Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, landed in Detroit’s lap with the No. 5 pick, the phones started ringing. The teams, the sources said, were blasting the Pistons with their best offers for Ivey. On the other side, Weaver and his team were making their own calls, trying to find a way to land 18-year-old Memphis big man Jalen Duren, who sources say blew up the Pistons in the process of pre-project. and has long had fans in Detroit’s front office.

From there, this is where the Grant trade comes back into play.

The Pistons, looking for a way to return to the lottery, used the Knicks’ difficult financial situation against them. New York has made no secret that it would like to pursue Dallas guard Jalen Brunson in free agency, but needed to drop some salary to make a legitimate run, making Detroit the perfect business partner. After failing in their attempt to get Ivey away from Detroit, the Knicks pivoted. They used the No. 11 pick (Ousmane Dieng) to acquire three first-round picks from the Thunder. New York turned around and used draft capital to acquire Duren from the Hornets, who took the big man 13th overall. Then the Pistons and Knicks agreed to a deal that made Detroit its coveted target in Duren and allowed the Pistons to happily take the remaining $9 million on Kemba Walker’s contract. According to the sources, Detroit will buy out the veteran point guard.

In the end, that’s what the Pistons got for trading Jerami Grant: Duren (the 13th pick), the 36th pick (Gabriele Procida, who will be hidden, sources say) and more than $30 million in cash. ceiling space available to them. It’s anything but disappointing.


The Pistons are now entering the next phase of their ‘recovery’ with one of the most intriguing young nuclei in the NBA – Cade Cunningham, Ivey, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Duren – plus enough room to make a run to a max level player. However, while all signs point to Detroit making a serious run against Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton over the past few days, that seems less likely after the Pistons walked away with two of the highest players on the big board in the league. ‘organization. According to the sources, Detroit is eager to continue rebuilding toward the playoffs with the aforementioned young core, and the Pistons should use the majority of their remaining cap space to add several veteran plays rather than just one big swing this offseason, per sources.

Over the past 48 hours, it has emerged that landing Ayton would be Plan A for Detroit. Acquiring the additional $20 million in cap space created an opportunity for the Pistons to strike fear into any team with a top-notch restricted free agent. In reality, however, the events of Thursday signal that Ayton’s road is plan B. Plan A manifested itself in Brooklyn, when Ivey unexpectedly slid to the Pistons and they found a way back to the lottery to add Duren. According to the sources, it was the best scenario.

Being able to add additional cap space in the Grant trading allows Detroit to take Walker’s money without hesitation. The Pistons still plan to be one of the biggest spenders when opening free agency. This is why gaining financial flexibility was so important for the franchise. Detroit could have Plan A, B, and C, all of which were available. It had been a while since the organization could control its own course.

Weaver entered this week with a plan. He executed. Weaver wanted his guys and he got them. Detroit wasn’t very sporty a week ago. He got the most athletic guard and the most athletic big man in the draft. The Pistons, as an organization, top to bottom, are as healthy as they have been since their last championship in 2004.

It was obvious that Detroit would do something this offseason. Nobody, however, knew exactly what or how it would happen. That’s how Weaver likes it. Unpredictable. Chaotic. Strong. Then you take a step back and watch the puzzle come together.

(Top Troy Weaver photo credit: Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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