NBA Draft Preview, Free Agency Anticipation

The NBA offseason is upon us, and it’s already heating up, just days after the season wrapped. Here’s your table-setter for what’s to come for the Pistons.


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What to do with this 5th choice

If you’ve been a long-time reader of this newsletter, you might recall that last year I warned of the NBA’s season of lying, with lots of unfounded rumors about the Pistons and not taking not Cade Cunningham. The NBA lying season is heating up again. But this year, it’s not as focused on the Pistons.

Still, there are rumors that could upset the Pistons’ draft plans. First up, here are the top three candidates for the Pistons at 5th pick:

  • Best case scenario: Jaden Ivey, Purdue, Guard

  • Expected choice: Keegan Murray, Iowa, Forward

  • Go to choice: Shadeon Sharpe, Guard, “Kentucky” (in quotes because he never played for Kentucky)

There might be a few more in the mix here, but that’s probably your main crop of leads to watch out for, barring a trade. (which we will discuss shortly).

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So let’s talk about Jaden Ivey. He is expected to be drafted by the Kings as the No. 4 pick, but it looks like that pick is in flux. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported last week that the Kings weren’t Ivey’s preferred destination. Here’s more of what he said in his fictionalized draft earlier this month:

The Kings aren’t Ivey’s favorite destination, but they’ve been willing to take players without the benefit of coaching and medical information in the past, which they did just a year ago when of Davion Mitchell’s selection. Many in the NBA believe this pick is available to a team looking to trade picks and advance the draft for Ivey. Detroit, Indiana and Oklahoma City are among those who could potentially trade an asset to help the Kings compete for a playoff spot, with Jerami Grant, Myles Turner and Lu Dort some potential options that rival teams are pointing to. Should the Kings choose to stick with that pick and prefer to avoid the drama associated with picking a player against his side’s wishes, Keegan Murray’s candidacy could pick up steam with future head coach Mike Brown. Owner Vivek Ranadive is also said to be a supporter of his selection.

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I would call this the NBA’s lying season report – but that last part intrigues me. The Kings owner wants Keegan Murray over Ivey. It would be a big problem. That doesn’t mean the Kings wouldn’t recruit Ivey and exploit him for a draft night trade.

As noted above, Jerami Grant could be a useful trade piece here if the Pistons decide Ivey is worth moving — they’ll likely have to give up more than Grant, too, consider another draft pick.

But it might be worth it for Detroit, which has had another league-bottom season and is doing its best not to let it go to waste with a mediocre draft pick.

To add another wrinkle, the Pistons may not be the only team in the mix for Ivey. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said last week that the 4th pick was on the block.

“There are a lot of teams trying to get deals with Sacramento so they can move on to pick Jaden Ivey,” Wojnarowski said. “These are teams close to them in the lottery who are five and six [the Pistons and Pacers]the New York Knicks at No. 11, the Washington Wizards at No. 10, and even some teams outside the lottery.

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And just today, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Kings are getting “more and more comfortable” keeping the 4th pick. Again, it could just be smoke and mirrors. “Sacramento general manager Monte McNair has been engaging in conversations around Hawks forward John Collins – among a host of other established and productive players in the market – but there has been no involvement from the No. 4 pick in discussions centered on Collins and McNair. will ultimately make the decision on the pick, sources say.

There’s no doubt landing Ivey would be the best-case scenario for Detroit — pairing him with Cade Cunningham would solidify the backcourt for years to come. We’ll see how it shakes out.

Let’s go to Keegan Murray for a minute. He’s the likeliest draft pick here if Ivey is out of the picture. Murray is a smart, ready-to-play striker, he can throw all three balls and he can pass. He’s older than his draft counterparts, but he insists that doesn’t matter.

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Murray could be a good choice for Detroit, especially if they trade Jerami Grant. Murray could move into fourth place going forward. And he fits into the mold like a big one who can stretch the ground, and he will improve on defense.

It’s not that Pistons fans don’t want Murray, I don’t think — it’s just that Jaden Ivey sounds like a bigger addition. But ending up with Murray wouldn’t be the end of the world.

And a quick note about Shadeon Sharpe. No. Please, no. The Pistons can’t afford to risk it all on a player with no college footage, who hasn’t played basketball in a year. No thanks, sir.

The NBA Draft is Thursday night at 8 p.m. – get your popcorn ready.


NBA Free Agency Overview

NBA Free Agency is set to begin in earnest on June 30. The Pistons should have the most (or nearly the most) cap space available to any team this offseason.

This does not necessarily mean that they will spend a lot on anyone. You must think Troy Weaver is saving up for the big shot. Looking at the free agency pool, there are no must-play players, but there are some interesting tweaks.

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  • Jalen Brunson (if Detroit doesn’t draft Ivey)

  • DeAndre Ayton (the Pistons are among the teams with the best chance of signing him)

  • Tyus Jones (if Detroit doesn’t draft Ivey)

  • Miles Bridges (back to basics?)

  • Gary Harris (back to basics?!)

The Pistons have things to settle with their own roster:

  • Marvin Bagley III (unrestricted free agent)

  • Hamidou Diallo (team option)

  • Cory Joseph (player option)

  • Frank Jackson (team option)

  • Rodney McGruder (unrestricted free agent)

I would expect Jackson and Diallo to come back. I’m not sure about Joseph and McGruder, who served as veteran voices on a young team. The biggest question there is Marvin Bagley III, who has played pretty well for Detroit in his half seasons. Guess Bagley would be brought back on a short proof contract.

The Pistons opened at +75,000 to win the title next year, which is the third worst odds – but you say there’s a chance?!


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