The Detroit Pistons have had their fair share of excellent trades in the history of their storied franchise. Let’s highlight the best Pistons trades of all time.
5. Richard “Rip” Hamilton (2002)
Traded from the Washington Wizards with Hubert Davis and Bobby Simmons for Brian Cardinal, Jerry Stackhouse, and Ratko Varda.
First off, Jerry Stackhouse is one of the top players in Pistons franchise history, and perhaps the main reason why most folks gloss him over is because of how terrible the team was during the Stackhouse era.
That being said, it was still a tough blow to part ways with Stackhouse, as the team finally decided to pull the plug on that experiment. Detroit turned this deal into quite a win, though, with Richard “Rip” Hamilton joining the fray.
There’s no denying that it felt like the Pistons were on the losing end of this deal on the onset, but it wasn’t long before Hamilton proved that he was worth it.
Hamilton produced three consecutive All-Star-caliber seasons for the Pistons, as he proved to be a key piece during the glory years in the 2000s.
4. Rasheed Wallace (2004)
As part of a three-team trade, traded from the Atlanta Hawks for Željko Rebrača, Bob Sura, and a first-round pick; Chucky Atkins, Lindsey Hunter, and a first-round pick went to the Boston Celtics, with Mike James going from the Celtics to the Pistons and Chris Mills going from the Celtics to the Hawks.
Much like Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace was also an important player for the Pistons during their rise in the 2000s. As a matter of fact, one might argue that Detroit may have not won that memorable title in 2004 had it not been for the midseason trade that brought Wallace to the team.
The Pistons were already a serious threat to the title, but it did feel like they were missing a piece to the puzzle. This came in the form of Wallace, whose trade required quite a haul from the Psitons. While Detroit did get Mike James in the deal as well, they had to give up four players and two first-round draft picks in order to bring Wallace on board.
The Pistons went all in with this trade, and they were handsomely rewarded with their third championship in franchise history in 2004.
3. Dennis Rodman (1982)
Traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers (as a future second-round pick) for Steve Hayes.
Talking about championships, the other two titles for this franchise came in back-to-back years in 1989 and 1990. One of the key cogs of currently the most successful era in Pistons franchise history (they went to three straight Finals) was the tenacious Dennis Rodman.
Detroit got its hands on Rodman in 1986, selecting him 27th overall in the draft. However, the Pistons acquired the rights to that pick back in 1982 in a deal that meant basically nothing for both squads at the time. Steve Hayes was nothing more than a role player (at best), and dealing him for a second-rounder four years down the road was anything but a blockbuster deal for the Pistons. Little did they know that this would turn out to be quite a gem.
Rodman earned two All-Star appearances during his time in Detroit, while also earning back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1990 and 1991. The value that came out of this deal is enough to earn this trade a place on our top-five list of Pistons trades.
2. Bill Laimbeer (1982)
Traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers with Kenny Carr for Phil Hubbard, Paul Mokeski, a first-round pick, and a second-round pick.
Bill Laimbeer is mostly remembered for being the main enforcer of the Pistons’ “Bad Boys” era. It’s easy to overlook that he was one of the best centers in the league, being named to the All-Star team on four separate occasions.
Laimbeer’s Pistons career started in 1982, when the team traded for him from the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 6-foot-11 big man was nothing more than an up-and-comer at that point, but he quickly established himself as one of the team’s most important players. Laimbeer led the league in rebounds during the 1985-86 season with 13.1 boards per contest.
Along with Rodman, Laimbeer terrorized the league as one of the most feared frontcourts in all of the NBA. This resulted in three straight trips to the NBA Finals, with the Pistons winning two in ’89 and ’90.
1. Ben Wallace (2000)
Traded from the Orlando Magic with Chucky Atkins for Grant Hill.
Losing one of the best players in the league at that time in perennial All-Star Grant Hill was a tough pill to swallow for the Pistons. Then again, Hill had already made up his mind that his time was up in Detroit, and the front office made the most out of the situation by pulling off a sign-and-trade with the Orlando Magic.
In return, the Pistons received Ben Wallace, who at that time was considered a rebounding specialist. Few could have imagined that he would emerge into one of the best big men in the entire league. During his time in Detroit, Wallace was named an All-Star four times, as well as earning All-NBA honors five times and All-Defensive First Team honors five times, with another spot on the All-Defensive Second Team. He led the league in rebounds on two separate seasons, and in blocks once. Perhaps most significantly, the 6-foot-9 big man won Defensive Player of the Year four times in five seasons.
Few players embody the true Pistons spirit like Wallace, which makes him not only one of the greatest players in franchise history, but also the best trade this team has ever pulled off.