Troy Weaver Season is upon us.
The Pistons general manager has been wheelin’ and dealin’ ever since he became the head honcho in Detroit in 2020. He turned over the roster completely in less than two years, completely ridding it of every player who was here when he inherited it.
On Wednesday, with just over 24 hours to go until the 2022 NBA Draft, Weaver traded his first big signing as Detroit’s general manager.
Sources tell The Athletic the Pistons have traded veteran forward Jerami Grant to Portland for a first-round pick in 2025, via Milwaukee. Detroit will also swap pick No. 46 for the Trailblazers’ 36th pick in Thursday’s draft, while also getting back its own 2025 second-round pick, which Portland owned, sources said. Lastly, the Pistons will receive the more favorable of the Trail Blazers’ and Pelicans’ second-round pick in 2026.
This 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 roughly $30 million in cap space at its disposal, which was among the league leaders. After the trade, the Pistons have roughly $43 million at their disposal. Per sources, Detroit is heavily expected to pursue Phoenix Suns big man and 2018 No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton in the open market. The Pistons may also look to the trade block to make use of that cap space if Ayton stays put in Phoenix or lands elsewhere.
Detroit doesn’t have to use all of the cap space it has collected this offseason, however. It’s possible the Pistons sit still, take on bad contracts and collect more assets. The key here is flexibility, which is something 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 avenues to go down to build a relevant product in the Motor City.
Now, on to the return. It was widely expected and rumored that Grant would bring back, at minimum, a lottery-level pick in a deal. That, clearly, did not happen here, and, per sources, this deal is the best offer the Pistons have received on Grant, even dating back to February’s trade deadline. Leading up to the trade deadline and this offseason, other potential deals were discussed, per sources. But when it comes to concrete offers on the table, this was the best Detroit received for the services of Grant, who is extension-eligible this summer.
With the 2022 draft a day away, trading Grant would appear to signal that Iowa’s Keegan Murray is seriously being considered with Detroit’s fifth selection if he’s 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 land Ayton’s services this offseason, third-year big man Isaiah Stewart or third-year forward Saddiq Bey could fill the void at power forward. Again, Detroit has created several options for itself moving forward.
It’s always hard to predict what Weaver’s next move will be, but the sense is that the Pistons won’t do anything dramatic on the trade front over the next 24 hours. It is possible, though, that Detroit, given its abundance of cap room, could move back into the late lottery if a player like, let’s say, Memphis’ Jalen Duren falls out of the top 10. Per reports, Charlotte is looking to move either pick No. 13 or No. 15 if a team is willing to take on Gordon Hayward’s contract. The Pistons have the means to execute such a deal if they so choose.
On the surface, trading Grant, a veteran in his prime, signals that the Pistons will continue to slow-play this restoration. That 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 proven player calls for a turning of the corner too.
For the first time in a long time, the Pistons have several streets they can walk down to build something substantial. Regaining flexibility and acquiring intriguing prospects through the draft and via trade were two of Weaver’s goals early on in his tenure. In less than three years, the general manager has done both.
(Top photo credit of Jerami Grant: Photo by Brian Sevald / NBAE via Getty Images)
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