Roundtable: Should They Stay or Should They Go, Trade Targets, and a New Year’s Resolution

Markieff Morris (left), Tony Snell (second fro left), and Langston Galloway (right) are all potential trade candidates as the Pistons prepare to rebuild. (Michael Wyke/Associated Press)
Ed Stefanski has his finger ever closer on the big red “blow it up” button and that can only mean one thing: asset prioritization. It is the favorite mental exercise of every fan of a newly rebuilding team, deciding who can be shipped out for maximum value and who should be retained for the long-haul. I asked our Palace of Pistons team who should stay or who should go.

We could not go very far into the new year without New Year’s Resolutions, so I also asked for some Pistons resolutions. Hopefully non of them are gym-related, the Pistons don’t need to be told that. Here we go:

Q: If Detroit is REALLY going to blow it up, who should they ship out of Motown?

Tim Forkin: While there are some players on the Pistons who many want to see go because of their injury history, such as Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson, I think Detroit will move on from them when it’s the best time to do so. The same can be said for the disappointing signings of Markieff Morris and Tim Frazier. With that being said, I want the Pistons to move their center of attention, Andre Drummond. Here’s why:

The Pistons can no longer live in a world where they are building around a traditional big man. This methodology cannot be successful in a pace and space league, headlined by guards and wings who can shoot and defend. The Pistons need more of those guys. As productive as Drummond has been, it’s time for the Pistons to move on and run this whole thing back next year with some new blood. Moving Drummond also makes it easier to let Reggie Jackson walk, freeing up even more cap space for this summer to sign players that could help reset the roster, such as Fred Van Vleet (only if they’re able to get an expiring contract back).

Will Anderson: This one was tough for me to decide. As a fan of a sports team, it’s never easy wanting to see a player on that team go play for another team, no matter how bad the team is performing. The easy answer would be Thon Maker, as he hasn’t really lived up to the hype in the pros, but especially since the Pistons acquired him last year. This decision was tough for me as it came down to Langston Galloway and Andre Drummond. My heart wants Drummond to stay because of what he’s done for the organization since being drafted, but my head says that the Pistons could probably get some decent young assets and/or draft picks back for him in any reasonable trade (looking at you Hawks…).

For now, I’m going to say Langston, but I will get back to Drummond shortly. Galloway is a veteran presence in the locker room, and a pretty decent piece coming off the bench. This season so far, Galloway is averaging 10.7 points a game, 1.4 assists, while shooting 40% from three and 43% from the field. When Galloway is the type of player who can get hot shooting from three just as easy as he can stay ice cold from out there. When he is on, he’s on and I believe that because of his ability to be dangerous from three and being a solid veteran presence, as well as being in a crowded backcourt which right now includes Bruce Brown, Luke Kennard, Reggie Jackson (whenever he may come back), Svi Mykhailiuk, Tim Frazier, and Derrick Rose, and I think he can bring back a frontcourt guy, maybe a draft pick, and help a contending team on their road to the finals.

Ashley Gross: The one player I would most like to see go is Reggie Jackson. As much as it pains me to say, it needs to be said. It’s time for the Pistons to take Old Yeller out to pasture and put him out of his misery.

It pains me to talk about Jackson like that because I was so excited when he was traded to Detroit back in 2015. I remember vividly when he was still with the Oklahoma City Thunder and there were rumors that he wanted out and the franchise was trying to trade him. He was at the 2015 NBA All-Star game wearing a Detroit Bad Boys Pistons hat sitting sideline during the All-Star weekend festivities. He was one of the first few players that started showing actual love and support for not just the franchise but the city as well. For that I will never forget the edge he provided to this team when he arrived—he breathed new life into the franchise.

But for the last couple of years, Jackson has been injury-prone and, after succumbing to injury in their second game against the Indiana Pacers, Jackson has yet to return. With him out of commission the team has been left depleted at the point guard spot and are in desperate need of some help. Jackson won’t be much of a bargaining trip while he is injured but if he can come back and prove to be somewhat of an attractive commodity, then the Pistons need to start putting out feelers across the league and see what’s the best offer that a team is willing to propose. 

This team is starting to head in a new direction and Detroit is trying to shed some of the fat off their bloated salary cap. Jackson, based on his history of injuries, does not seem to be in the plans for the future and it would behoove the Pistons to try to see what can be received in exchange for him, in order to build assets for their rebuild.

Jacob Rogers: I feel like it would be too easy to say Andre Drummond here, given that his name has come up in multiple trade reports. Of course I’d like to move on from Reggie Jackson’s lucrative contract, but that’s simply not plausible. If there’s anyone who I’d “want” moved it’s probably Langston Galloway. Don’t get me wrong, I love Langston and what he brings to the Pistons. However, given that he is having a career year and can add shooting to a contending team, I think Galloway could have some pretty good trade value and can net the Pistons either a prospect or a pick. 

Q: Who should Detroit try and keep heading into the rebuild?

Tim: A player I want to stay in Detroit is Christian Wood. His contract has just been guaranteed this past week, and if Drummond is dealt during this season, he will have time to grow up as a player in a Pistons uniform. 

There’s a lot to unpack with Christian Wood, as it seems that he’s still a mess on defense and tentative on offense. I think the Pistons have exactly what they need going forward with Christian Wood. He’ll remain a cost-controlled center in Detroit, someone who plays the position with energy and fire without taking offense away from primary scorers. He’s always there for drop-offs and putbacks; it’s his defense that will need to grow the most during the remainder of this season. But when you have young players with the tools to be successful, like Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya, and Christian Wood, you should keep them until they reach their potential. 

Will Anderson: Here is where my heart starts to play more of a role. I would LOVE to see Andre Drummond stay a Piston for the rest of his career, which he actually said he’d like to do in a recent interview. But I understand that the NBA is a business. Drummond is arguably the best rebounder in the NBA and puts up more 20-20 games himself in a season than most teams can do combined in a single campaign. Dre currently leads the league in rebounds per game averaging 16.2 per game, and is fourth in steals per game averaging right at 2 a game.

Yes, he’s had some off nights and made some questionable decisions lately, and many Pistons fans are ready to see Christian Wood take over the five spot, but Dre is just someone that would be hard to see in a different uniform for me, and for the time being, as long as Dre is a Piston, I think we all need to appreciate what he’s done for this organization since being 18 years old.

Ashley: Probably the one Piston player that is not named Sekou Doumbouya that I would like to see the franchise keep it…*drum roll*…Derrick Rose! I know, big shocker huh?

But seriously Derrick Rose has been the unsung hero of this season. He has proven to not only the team but the rest of the league that is still a dynamic player after encountering several injuries. He has defied all the odds by coming back from multiple surgeries, being bounced around from city to city to finally land in Detroit and completely flourish in his role as the sixth man for the Pistons.

Rose has been so terrific this season that his performances are starting to generate All-Star nominations. This might be more realistic based on the fact this year’s game will be played in Rose’s hometown of Chicago, and he is already slated to participate in the Skills Competition. At the time of writing this piece, Rose is currently averaging 17.8 ppg and 5.7 apg – and for a player of any caliber to be averaging those kinds of numbers off the bench is pretty damn impressive. 

The Pistons can’t afford to lose a player like Rose, even though the conversation of dealing Rose if teams were willing to offer a first-round draft pick has been brought up. But, after the Pistons confirmed that they won’t let him go unless he requests a trade, this speculation has been put to bed. The way Rose has been playing this year has now become an “automatic bucket” for the team. He seems to have regained his trademark speed and agility to get to the cup at will and he’ll be a strong candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year Award at the end of the season. After Drummond, he is the team’s second-leading scorer and their quiet leader. His veteran presence is essential to this team’s younger players and will help smooth the foundation of the franchise for the next year or two.

Jacob: It would be so simple to say Sekou Doumbouya here, especially with how he has been playing since being inserted into the starting lineup. However, there’s a different piece of the young core that I don’t want moved: Bruce Brown. In my opinion, Bruce offers the Pistons a lot. Brown is only 23 years old and in his second NBA season. In his sophomore season, he has show immense improvement as both a facilitator and scorer. During his rookie year, Brown averaged 4.3 points and 1.2 assists on 40-26-75 shooting splits in just under 20 minutes per game. This season, Brown has doubled his scoring output and tripled his assist numbers averaging 8.8 points and 3.9 assists on 44-34-68 shooting splits. I think that Brown can continue to improve and potentially be the Pistons point guard of the future. 

Q: So with all of these trade assets, who should Detroit target in a deal?

Tim: A player that I would like the Pistons to target is Matisse Thybulle. He’s a coveted player for the 76ers, who see his tenacious defense and long-term upside through his first season. He’s also shooting close to 45 percent on limited attempts from beyond the arc.

To be honest, I just see him and Bruce Brown becoming the defensive version of the Splash Brothers. Two guards above 6’5” who have defensive tools and instincts to clamp down on some of the best backcourts in the league. Both are still developing their offensive games, but Thybulle has more offensive promise at this stage in his development than Brown has so far in his career. Thybulle fits in well with the direction the team is going. Philadelphia is also reportedly interested in Langston Galloway, someone to bolster their bench while they try to figure things out and make a championship push. A deal involving Thybulle and Galloway is possible, but not likely, considering how much the 76ers have shown that they value him long term.

Will: Based on recent trade rumor reports circling around the NBA landscape, one could possibly connect what I’m about to say with what I’ve already said in that I believe the player the Pistons should target is Dennis Smith Jr. It took me a little bit to get on board with this, and yes DSJ has been hurt and hasn’t played much this season (only 21 games), but with Reggie surely not being brought back after this season and Derrick Rose not being able to start every game, why not bring in a young PG to pair with Sekou and Christian Wood? Yes, Bruce Brown is beginning to look like a solid young PG, but I believe the dynamic that a DSJ could bring to this Pistons team, who look to be in a rebuilding phase, why not go after a young PG who could bring a new identity to a struggling team.  

Ashley: The one thing that the Pistons could use as an addition to their team is length, athleticism, and shooting. Kyle Kuzma is a player that has those similar traits and the Pistons should take notice of his game if they have not already. When Kuzma was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 27th pick in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, he was a bit of an unknown commodity and burst onto the scene with his variety of scoring abilities—he averaged 16.1 points his rookie year. The following year he bumped his scoring average to 18.7 points, but this year his scoring has gone down dramatically due to the combination of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. With both of them being the go-to scorers on the Lakers, Kuzma can at times get lost in the shuffle and defer from being an integral player for the franchise to now being viewed as an uber-talented role player. 

It would be in the best interest of the Pistons to monitor the relationship and status of Kuzma. With not that many top-tier scoring wings on their team. In the Pistons system, I’m sure it’ll allow Kuzma to keep growing his scoring repertoire and naturally flourish on this team. Kuzma is on a cap-friendly contract and the Pistons could trade him straight up for anyone of their players, and if they really need to, just add a first-round pick. 

With the Pistons going into a rebuilding process, having a player such as Kyle Kuzma would result in him being one of the players that will usher in this new era of Detroit Pistons basketball. If he was dealt to Detroit now, he would easily be one of the top two players on offense as scoring options. The Lakers are in serious contention for the NBA Championships and if they could acquire another solid piece or two to their roster, they would probably be more in agreeance to trade Kuzma, to help better their chances of reaching the NBA Finals.

Jacob: Being that the Pistons are beginning to enter rebuild mode, I would like Detroit to acquire a young guy in a deal. It is rumored that both Drummond and Galloway are being explored in trades. In one of those deals, more than likely a Galloway deal, I’d like to pick up Zhaire Smith from the Philadelphia 76ers. Smith, a 6’3” guard has only appeared in six games this season. At 20 years old, Smith can bring a flamethrower to Detroit to go along with other sharpshooters Luke Kennard and Svi Mykhailiuk.

Q: Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions (and overly-crowded gyms). What should be the Pistons’ resolution?

Tim: Commit to the rebuild. Applying for the disabled player exception on Blake Griffin was a start. A Drummond trade, or any move the Pistons make, should be focused on the future and done the right way. Part of committing to the rebuild has already started, as the team has unleashed 19-year-old Sekou Doumbouya onto the rest of the league. His development is critical to the organization.

Committing to the rebuild also means continued experimentation with lineups, offensive and defensive schemes, and a different approach from the front office. Ed Stefanski has been eerily cautious since he was given the keys to the organization, shying away from big moves for Russell Westbrook and other stars on the market. It’s going to take a splash to get established talent into Detroit. How the front office handles this trade season will be an indicator of how Detroit will build this team.

Will: Again, there are a few different ways I could go with this response. I can’t remember a season I’ve been more excited about with a team than before this season started. I really thought, as well as many other fans I’m sure, that the Pistons would be in the 5-8 seed range for the playoffs. However, the injury bug bit, and bit HARD and hasn’t let up all season. My New Years Resolution to the Detroit Pistons is to let the kids play for the rest of the season, get them some action in games, and to find an identity. As stated before, it looks as if Drummond may be on the way out, Reggie probably won’t be back next season, and who knows what’s going to happen with Blake, but with the sudden emergence of Sekou, the solid play from Christian Wood, the outbreak we’re all waiting on from Luke, I believe that the Pistons can end up being one of the hottest up-and-coming teams for years to come if they can find an identity and stick to it. 

Ashley: The one thing that I would like the Pistons to do is to delicately build and stockpile assets through for the NBA Draft. For the last 10 years, the Pistons have yet to select a player, that has transcended the franchise and helped play the team as actual title contenders.

The players that the Pistons have picked in the past have had either decent to moderate success, but none of them have lived up to the success that other players selected after them have had. Whether we’re talking about taking Stanley Johnson over Devin Booker or Luke Kennard over Donovan Mitchell, the Pistons can’t afford to keep making these types of subtle but fatal draft mistakes. Those two players the Pistons didn’t select have All-Star potential and Detroit needs those types of game-changing players to help elevate their franchise. 

If the Pistons are trying to get rid of Drummond, Griffin and/or Jackson, they need to be shrewd in the negotiation process and see if they can include draft picks in the trades. This is an amazing organization to be a part of with a rich history of winning. I feel that the Pistons will come back to relevancy and make themselves serious contenders in the Eastern Conference if they would just do their due diligence and make sure that they can see the players that they are selecting is the right fit for the team. We won’t be able to know for a while, but best believe the actions of the team will be monitored and we have to see what decisions lay ahead for them.

Jacob: My New Years resolution for the Motor City is to embrace the youth movement. Detroit has some promising young prospects in Kennard, Brown, Mykhailiuk, Doumbouya and Christian Wood. If the front office can get rid of some expiring deals to get some young guys in there with mentors like Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin, the Pistons could be set for the future. 

(Featured image by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty)

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