The Detroit Pistons are the worst team in the Eastern Conference. They currently have a 12-37 win-loss record and are pretty much done for the season. Much of that is because of Cade Cunningham’s injury. However, the Pistons roster also has so many issues to address. For sure, they’ll hope to plug as many holes as they can at the trade deadline and in the offseason. Here we will look at the dream scenario that the Pistons are hoping for as we close in on the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline.
How will the Pistons approach the trade deadline? With Cunningham’s injury, the focus for the team is on development and preparing for the 2023 NBA Draft. Rookies Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren have been strong additions. With them at the core along with Cunningham, the Pistons actually have the potential to become a strong team in the East. Decisions on veterans such as Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks, as well as Bojan Bogdanovic, who was acquired in the offseason, will be crucial.
Although Bogdanovic signed a $39.1 million extension with Detroit for two years, the team should still consider trading him due to the interest from other teams. Currently, the Pistons are inclined to keep the veteran forward for next season and have him serve as a key leader for the young team. However, if the Pistons can secure two first-round picks in a trade for Bogdanovic (or Burks and Noel), a deal could come to fruition at the deadline.
Amidst plenty of trade rumors, 33 year old Bojan Bogdanović (21.5 PPG) finds himself in Brooklyn exactly two weeks from the deadline. The Pistons aging leading scorer is rumored to not be a part of the potential rebuild plans in Detroit.
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Now let’s look at the Pistons’ dream scenario for the 2023 NBA trade deadline.
Pistons deal Bogdanovic, Burks, and Noel for pieces and picks
Bogdanovic’s extension allows the team to delay trade discussions until the offseason, when similar or even better trade offers may be available.
Alec Burks, who recently returned from foot surgery, has been performing well, averaging 13.8 points in just 21.8 minutes per game. He has a career-high 43.8 percent three-point shooting rate. That ranks in the top 10 among qualified players this season. Additionally, he is shooting 43.5 percent on off-the-dribble 3-pointers. That ranks in the top five among 70 players with at least 50 attempts. His current salary of $10 million is below the average player salary, and he also has a valuable $10.5 million team option for the 2023-24 season.
Nerlens Noel, on the other hand, has been playing less with a career-low 11.8 minutes per game. He has a $9.7 million team option for next season. It’s unlikely that he would be a buyout candidate.
Take note that GM Troy Weaver has made 17 trades since taking over in 2020. The most significant move was trading for Bogdanovic in September. He is not at all averse to shaking the boat, so to speak. At the very least, Weaver should not hesitate to ask for high returns in trade talks for Bogdanovic, Burks, and Nowl. Remember that the Pistons are among the few teams that are willing to sell. That gives them quite the leverage in the current trade market.
Now, even if the Pistons don’t make any trades, they will still have a high chance of getting a top-tier lottery pick. That’s thanks to their dismal performance this season. Still, they can potentially add another top prospect like Victor Wembanyama. That in addition to getting back a healthy Cunningham and some promising young prospects could form the foundation of a strong core.
However, the Pistons should still be motivated to make trades. Remember that they don’t have any extra first-round picks in their pockets
The Pistons should consider trading any combination of Bogdanovic, Burks, or Noel if they can get a good first-round pick or more in return. That’s instead of holding onto them past the trade deadline. Alternatively, if they can get any return for trading out Noel’s expiring contract, they should consider it. That’s even if it means taking on longer-term money.
The Pistons should also be open to having discussions about the future of players like Saddiq Bey. Recall that he will soon be eligible for an extension. Killian Hayes is also in this same boat. Sure, Bey has shown improvement in his perimeter offense. Still, the Pistons should assess whether it still makes sense to keep him. Remember that he shares the same spot as Cunningham and Ivey.
Another thing to look at is the team’s cap situation for next season. They are projected to have around $40 million in space if they decline the team options for Burks and Noel and land a top pick in this year’s lottery. They may want to avoid taking on significant long-term salaries in order to maximize their cap space this summer.
All said, the best case for Detroit is to unload Bogdanovic, Burks, and Noel for more picks, pieces, and cash. That would do nothing for them this season. However, it would improve their positioning even more for the 2023 NBA Draft and the free agency shuffle. It’s all about flexibility and cap space for the Pistons.