All that was needed was a top-3 pick.
The Pistons, the league’s worst team, didn’t ask for much. Fancy receiving the No. 1 pick in Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery and the rights to Victor Wembanyama? of course. And that was the dream. But with the franchise player watching from the sidelines, the 17-win organization would have welcomed Scott Henderson or Brandon Miller with open arms. Just a top 3. That’s all you need.
Instead, the basketball gods handed the worst outcome to the NBA’s worst team: the No. 5 pick in next month’s draft. Calling it gut-wrenching would be putting it well. The result was like a sword slicing through his bicep. Detroit didn’t have the ambition to pick this high so soon. This was a year of good odds at No. 1. In a matter of seconds he went as close as he could.
The life of a reconstruction team.
Now, the Pistons must shift their focus to what to do with the No. 5 pick. General manager Troy Weaver spoke to reporters after the lottery Tuesday night and said there are players he likes in this region. He also said the franchise isn’t opposed to trading the pick, saying, “We’ll entertain anything if it helps us move forward.” We’re very excited about this draft pool, but we’ll try to move the team forward any way we can.
Here, we try to figure out what could land Detroit in a trade for the fifth pick in this draft. To do that, I suggested a business idea to my fellow beat writers here. The athletics That covers the teams I believe will entertain the conversation for the fifth pick and what else the Pistons could offer. Of course, some of the trade deals weren’t so great. The goal, though, was to help you, the fan, understand what was and isn’t possible. Some businesses were good and were considered by beat writers.
Let’s get into it.
San Antonio Spurs
Pistons receive: Keldon Johnson and a 2024 first-round pick (via Toronto)
Spurs receive: No. 5 pick in the 2023 NBA draft
James L. Edwards III: My logic here was simple: Johnson fills a void for the Pistons as a strong offensive wing who can be effective off the ball. I think his defense could be better, and he could be in a more winning situation. He will only be 24 when next season starts and is on an expensive contract in my opinion (4 years/$74 million). His annual salary will be reduced for the first three years of the deal, which begins next season. The Pistons also get a future first because I don’t believe Johnson alone is worth the No. 5 pick in this draft.
Why do the Spurs do this you ask? Well, San Antonio could pick up 5 to get a different wing or, like future Spurs Wembanyama, on a rookie contract for the next few seasons. It will open up more cap space for San Antonio this summer. I haven’t seen Johnson with the Spurs until they are contenders again, so I can see a deal like this being beneficial to both sides. Cam Whitmore or Amen Thompson would be interesting against Wembanyama, wouldn’t they?
Alex Schiffer: “This trade really comes down to the Spurs’ timeline and how they want to rebuild, but picking up Johnson would allow another young player to match Wembamyama in terms of time and contract, and a player who is ready to help the Pistons move up the ladder. The Spurs have room to grow as a player who comes through Pop’s system. There’s also a case for them to keep Johnson in. He can stay and be part of a young core in San Antonio.
A decision from the opposite batting: “Strong Offer”
New York Knicks
Pistons receive: RJ Barrett, Evan Fournier and a 2024 first round pick
Knicks are accepted. Bojan Bogdanovic, James Wiseman and no. 5 election in 2023
Edwards: The prize here is Barrett, who had an excellent postseason for the Knicks. Defensively, he makes up for everything the Pistons have and lack. Offensively, the shooting is up and down, but it affects the game in other ways. I really like the idea of Barrett as a secondary or tertiary ball handler next to Cunningham and Evie. I like it more if the shot goes on. I’ll take the Fournier deal to get Barrett, but I also want future draft compensation.
Fred Katz (Knicks beat writer) “It depends on the expectations for the 2024 pick, but I think the Knicks should consider jumping on it. Bogodanovic gives them an extra shot, something they need in the short term, and is an obvious pick next to Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle. And best of all, the fifth pick in a stacked draft.” It gives their young talent a little longer. I’m sure the Knicks don’t feel good about parting ways with RJ Barrett after a strong postseason for the 22-year-old, but this is a great move in return. They definitely listen to this.”
Decision on the beat; “You should be an assistant GM!”
Pistons receive: Pascal, sorry
The Raptors will receive: Alec Burks, Bojan Bogdanovic, James Wiseman and no. 5 election in 2023
Edwards: With Siakam’s deal expiring and the Pistons looking increasingly likely to be looking for some sort of needle-finder, given Toronto’s potential to restructure the roster, I think the All-NBA pick is the best player for Detroit with the fifth pick. Of course, it’s attached to other things, like two great roles in Burks and Bogdanovich, and a project in Wiseman. This is pretty straightforward. I was trying to find Detroit among the 25 best players in the NBA. For me, Siakam is the only person who can make some sense.
When the Pistons believe in making this move, they must be confident they can sign him long-term. He will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Eric Corin (Raptors beat writer): “This is definitely the type of trade the Raptors want to look at if they want to move Faith. The problems are twofold. First: Even if the Raptors are like Wiseman, I expect them to bring back Jakob Poeltl and Christian Koloko as a backup at center. Second: The Pistons are down to five. Scott Henderson Or would Brandon Miller be a pure lottery fit for the Raptors. The Thompson twins, Cam Whitmore, Anthony Black? There’s at least some overlap with Scotty Barnes and questions about his shooting, which the Raptors can’t afford next to Barnes and Poeltl. In short: Something like this is a possibility, but the Raptors I think they’re going to try to get Portland involved first.
A decision from the opposite batting: “Strong Offer”
New Orleans Pelicans
Pistons receive: Herb Jones, No. 14 in 2023, Garrett Temple and Larry Nance Jr.
Pelicans receive: Bojan Bogdanovic and no. 5 election in 2023
Edwards: Again, I’m searching here. I’m a big Jones fan. At age 24, he could be one of the top 10 perimeter defenders in the NBA. Pistons especially need it on the wing. His 3-point shooting could be better, but his defense and other things he does offensively are more than that to me. I’d rather have Trey Murphy III, but I wouldn’t even bother Will by trying to get him. New Orleans could use a shooter like Bogdanovic. He could also use the No. 5 pick to get Cam Whitmore and look like a Zion-less offense. Temple and Nance are salary throws, though the latter could contribute in the rotation.
Will Gilroy (Pelicans beat writer) “Adding a Pick 5 and an elite shooter like Bogdanovic is a great way for the Pelicans to spice up an offense that struggled at times last season. However, they put too much value on Herb Jones and what he brings as one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. I will be shocked to see him move this summer. Perhaps they would be more interested if there was an obvious option at No. 5 to target. Guys like Cam Whitmore or one of the Thompson twins wouldn’t make as much sense with this team as keeping Jones.
A decision from the opposite batting: “A strong offer, but maybe not.”
Pistons receive: No. 3 in 2023 and pick Keon Johnson
Blazers receive: Bojan Bogdanovic, no. 5 in 2023 and no. 31 elections in 2023
Edwards: This isn’t a trade proposal I’m proud of, mainly because I don’t think it would be good enough, but I’d try to get Detroit into the top 3 to get Miller or Henderson. Portland has made it clear that it intends to compete as long as Dame Lillard is on the roster, so I offered one of the best shooters in the NBA. The Blazers had to move back two spots and still find an elite shooter! You can choose number 5 to add another veteran. It was my logic. Jason hated it fast.
Jason Quick (following beat writers) “Would the Blazers make the deal: No. Hell no. It’s no secret that the Blazers are open to trading the third pick, but they probably — and should — have higher ambitions in return than that. The only upside here is getting the 34-year-old shooter, but the Blazers have the ball in the net.” They’re going to be paired with guys who can put it in. The Blazers need defense, size, turnovers, and that’s not it.”
A decision from the opposite batting: “Why did you waste my time?”
Pistons receive: Jabari Smith
Rockets are accepted. No. 5 in 2023 and pick James Wiseman
Edwards: I tried to be very cute with this one, but I gave it a shot. All indications are that the Rockets will indeed be going next season and making a big move or two. Smith, who I liked in last year’s draft, didn’t have a great rookie season. Maybe Houston wants to post on him and use the No. 4 and No. 5 picks to get a bigger fish?
Kelly Eco (writer of Beat the Rockets)Adding another top-10 pick in 2021 or 2022 may appeal to Houston’s brass, but at this point, James Wiseman isn’t interesting enough to order a hit on Jabari Smith Jr. after his rookie season — especially with how he’s shown his speed over the last 20 games of the year. The Rockets are now trying to speed up the rebuilding process by acquiring winning veterans to complement their young core that includes Smith. A talented two-way forward for Wiseman and picking No. 5 in this draft doesn’t seem like the way to go for the franchise. They have a higher draft pick and can make better big signings than Wiseman in free agency. This basically works backwards. “
A decision from the opposite batting: “Are you feeling okay?”
The Pistons will pick fifth in the 2023 NBA draft. Who do you prefer? Will they trade?
(Top photo of Troy Weaver: Kyle Terada / USA TODAY Sports)