“Save the pick!” That was the rallying cry for most Detroit Pistons fans over the last month of the regular season. It appeared that they had successfully saved their first-round pick until the NBA draft lottery happened. Their pick was sent away to the Charlotte Hornets because it fell out of the top 8 selections. Now with the draft just a six days away the Pistons are left with just the 38th pick. I think the fans should now be rooting for Detroit to trade back into the first round.
This is one of the deepest drafts in recent years, and the Pistons need to find a way to be a part of it. If Detroit moves up to the middle of the first round they will be able to get a solid prospect. The alternative is to fill needs through free agency which has been a disaster for the Pistons in recent years. Although this isn’t the same front office that dished out a combined $168 million for the services of Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. Even with the new front office, the financial risk of another free agent bust is too much. Of course, there is also the risk of drafting a player who doesn’t pan out. The difference is the money you are paying an underperforming rookie is much easier to live with.
The problem is, trading back into the first round won’t be that easy. The players that Detroit would love to trade (Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings) are virtually unmovable because of their contracts. Their best trade chip is Greg Monroe, but he is a restricted free agent so it would have to be a sign and trade. Plus, it appears that the Pistons want to re-sign him. If that changes then I think the Pistons need to try and turn Monroe into a first-round pick.
This means that the most likely way for the Pistons to make it back into the first round is through a three-team trade. Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony could possibly be dealt before the draft. Big trades like that usually require a third team to make all of the salary cap situations work. The Pistons’ role would be to take on expiring contracts and one of the two teams’ first-round picks. The downside would be that Detroit wouldn’t have any money to spend on free agents. But as I stated earlier, that might be a good thing.