After the hectic NBA trade deadline that saw James Harden and Ben Simmons swap jerseys, the Pacers move off Domontas Sabonis and Caris LeVert, and the Wizards send Spencer Dinwiddie to Dallas for Kristaps Porzingis, the biggest name did not move – Jerami Grant. The Pistons, who reportedly asked for multiple first-round picks and/or blue chip prospects, opted to keep the veteran in Motown after rejecting lowball offers. Instead, Grant will finish the year with this young, developing core. How will this impact the young guns on the roster, and what should we expect from Grant for the rest of the season?
Killian Hayes? He was sent to the bench to man the second unit, a move that needed to happen. How has he looked so far, and is this the confidence-builder he needed?
And in the most telegraphed move in the league, Detroit acquired a young, springy big from the Kings in the form of Marvin Bagley III. In a low-cost media-reward move, what should Pistons fans expect from Bagley?
We tackle these questions and a few others in the latest edition of the Palace of Pistons roundtable:
The Pistons held on to Jerami Grant at the deadline after reportedly asking for two first-round picks or high-level prospects. How do you feel about keeping Grant for the time being?
Jasper Apollonia, Palace of Pistons Podcast Co-Host – While some fans might be disappointed with the Pistons’ decision to hold onto Jerami Grant at the deadline, I think it was a defensible move. Grant is still signed to a reasonable deal through next season, meaning he will maintain trade value as both a player and as an expiring contract to any franchise looking to make a move for him. Troy Weaver obviously didn’t see a return that he liked, and by not short-sightedly throwing in the towel and trading Grant for the best he could at the deadline, he’s kept the Pistons in position to make moves during the offseason.
Tim Forkin, Hoopla, Palace of Pistons Contributor – I was firmly in the “Trade him NOW” camp, but as the trade deadline passed I grew comfortable with it. The idea of Jerami Grant on this team for several years after signing a max extension is frightening to me, and I hope that the front office finds a return for him this offseason. The Pistons should hope to draft a wing or big that fits around Saddiq Bey in ways that Jerami Grant does not — making him expendable in the offseason. The right deal must come along in the offseason, either during the draft or prior to it.
Donovan Collins, Staff Contributor – Totally fine with the Pistons hanging on to Grant. I get many fans were eager to dump him off, but I don’t understand what the rush is. He is signed on through next season and the Pistons will have an offseason and till next year’s deadline to move him. The asking price for Grant was not very reasonable considering his and the team’s play so far this year. It’s comforting to see that Weaver won’t just trade Grant for the sake of moving him though. Like Ellington the year before, if he doesn’t receive a return that benefits the franchise, he won’t pull the trigger. I look forward to Grant playing with Cade and an improved Bey the rest of the season.
Tyler Issac, Staff Contributor – I believe it was the right move. There are too many “what ifs?” with this Pistons team. What pick will they land? What moves are they making in free agency? Until you can guarantee you’ll have another great player next to Cade, let’s not move on from a current great player who wants to be in Detroit. Plus you can still always move him in the offseason.
Grant has been more of a chucker and much less efficient this season. What sort of impact, whether on or off the court, are you hoping to see from him for the rest of the season?
JA – I’d like to see him return to doing more of what he did in Denver. That doesn’t necessarily mean he should have a 14% usage rating, simply that he should be running more off-ball action on offense (I am begging literally anyone on the team other than Hamidou Diallo to attempt a baseline cut to the basket) and defensively should focus on his borderline elite abilities as an off-ball rim protector. Grant is a fantastic athlete with great length and explosiveness, if the Pistons simplify his role on both ends of the floor, there’s no reason his efficiency can’t climb again.
TF – It’s veteran leadership for a group that obviously enjoys and appreciates him. You can see Grant’s impact on the team when you see them in person — for a quiet guy, he’s always in the ears of the Pistons’ young players, and that’s valuable. A few less mid-range clankers per half would be nice, too.
DC – Be a leader with this young group. Hit shots and make plays when they are needed to keep the team in games. This young group relies on their best vet at times to pull through. Grant has a chance to be effective in his off-ball movement with Cade being the primary ball-handler. I’d like to see Grant work to get himself open looks other than iso and continue to be a good help side defender.
TI: Throughout the season there have been questions about if Saddiq Bey and Jerami Grant can play together because of stretches where it just seemed like they couldn’t have good games together. While those questions have died down, due to them finally playing together well, I still wanna see Grant can mix with this team. We all know he’s a great player, but with Cade, the emergence of Saddiq Bey, and a lottery pick on the way, how does Grant fit? Can he comfortably slide into the 3rd option or even the 4th? Or is he a true number 2? I really want to see Grant shine without getting in the way of the other players on this roster. In whatever role he fills.
After months of foreshadowing, Detroit pulled the trigger on Marvin Bagley III as part of a four-team trade. What are you hoping to see from him for the rest of the season?
JA – I want to see a whole bunch of PNR dunks, smart catch and shoot threes, and growth on the defensive end of the floor. While Bagley is almost certainly more of a power forward than a center right now, if he’s going to be an impactful NBA player, let alone a starter, he’s going to need to improve his discipline and technique at the five spot. Offensively speaking, I’m intrigued to see how he can fit next to Cade Cunningham and especially Killian Hayes. If Bagley and Hayes can prove to be an effective pairing, it might be the shot in the arm both players desperately need.
TF – Troy Weaver admitted fault for not having any athletic bigs on the roster in his recent press availability. The addition of Bagley gives both Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes a lob threat they haven’t had this season. It seems every night, the Pistons are shown what it’s like to have a big man who can run and jump and finish easy plays. I just want to see Bagley step in and offer simplicity: screen hard, roll hard, crash hard, and be unselfish. Just as Matthew Stafford had with Calvin Johnson (and most recently, Cooper Kupp), there’s a world in which Cade adopts an “eff it, Bagley’s down there somewhere” mentality — and his career will be better for it.
DC – Along with Jasper, I too want to see more pick and roll play and being a threat close to the basket with the ball. I would also like to see more 2nd chance opportunities. With a bit more size and length than Isaiah Stewart, I look for Bagley to improve on his and the Pistons’ interior defensive presence. With adding his depth, hopefully, a more consistent effort can be shown in the paint for the Pistons on the defensive end.
TI:Bagley has a real opportunity to step in and revive his career because on paper, he is exactly what the Pistons need. A big man to finish and defend at the rim, and to grab rebounds. He needs to be used in the PNR and most importantly be a new toy for our guards to throw lobs to. At the very least he can be a guy used to help develop Cade and Killian comfortably with throwing lobs, and ultimately strengthening their roles as floor generals. If Bagley does everything right, he can carve out a nice career here as a solid backup or low end starter for the Pistons.
Josh Jackson and Trey Lyles were sent out in the trade for Bagley, the latter being an important stretch big for the team. What are you hoping to see from their rotational replacements?
JA – Jackson was already largely out of the rotation, and for good reason. I touched on my thoughts with replacing Lyles on the Palace of Pistons Podcast last week. I believe Kelly Olynyk should take his role as the backup stretch-five, and Bagley should take over his role as the more interior offensive player in regards to pick and roll and dribble handoffs. That doesn’t mean static roles, Olynyk and Lyles both worked their outside and inside games while on the floor together and I anticipate Bagley doing the same. I just want to make sure we see Bagley be the primary roll man for Hayes and Cunningham and not be relegated to pump faking on the perimeter or standing in the corner.
TF – Crazy how we’ve come so far on Trey Lyles. I’m hoping that Kelly Olynyk is able to actually space the floor instead of just chucking up shots. The Pistons should simplify their actions by giving their guards a high screen-and-roll package to create out of. Cade and Killian are a bit too unselfish to become full heliocentric forces on offense, but I really just want to see what it looks like when they’re constantly receiving screens from both Olynyk and Bagley.
DC – To be honest they both didn’t bring much to the table. I want to see more minutes out of Olynyk and Diallo/Bey. This is a good opportunity to see one of the young forwards to take a leap and play an immense amount of minutes a game and be productive and consistent(if Casey allows it.) This trade also helps the cause for fans like me to see more Olynyk. With injuries plaguing most if his first season in Detroit. Kelly Olynyk obviously isn’t a spotlight player, but I want to see more time with him and players like Cade, Jerami, and now Bagley.
TI: While beloved by fans, the organization, and players Josh wasn’t really a staple in the lineup near the end of his tenure. While it was nice to see a Detroit kid play for his hometown, his minutes have already been replaced by the more productive Frank Jackson and Hami. Lyles on the other hand was a nice big man off the bench who played valuable minutes and really put up some nice games for us. But with the acquisition of Bagely and Kelly Olynk returning from an injury that black hole won’t be vacant for long.
Killian Hayes has been moved to the bench, likely for the rest of the season barring an injury. What are your thoughts on this move so far?
JA – I think it’s been a moderate success, and one I’d like to see continue. While there’s been an uptick in scoring efficiency for Hayes since moving to the bench (shooting 42% from the floor being considered an improvement is not usually a positive sign, but that’s where we are with Hayes at the moment) the more important development for me has been his increased aggressiveness both in attacking the basket and as a playmaker for others. Hayes has accrued a third of his free throw attempts and assists on the season in just 12 games off of the bench, and it’s becoming clear that being able to run the show for the second unit is doing wonders for his confidence. Now, if he could only hit a three-pointer to save his life…
TF – I’m of the belief that the quicker you’re able to separate the talent from their draft slot, the better you end up. I’m not saying that the Pistons should punt on Killian Hayes because I do enjoy his defense, occasional passing, and finish flashes, and rare three-point makes. Hayes off the bench has been enjoyable for me because I’ve been able to rid myself of expectations. He comes into the game, keeps the ball moving, gives his opponents hell for a few possessions, and gets back off the court. He might not become a star, but I believe he’s a good backup point guard and still has time to grow.
DC – His move to the bench was clearly the decision to make. With the small sample size, I don’t really know what to make of it yet, but it has been inconsistent to start. He’s had one good game with his double-double back on the 11th, but I really can’t defend Hayes other than he is a good passer. He should use this move to motivate him as a scorer and work on his right hand. He has to become more of a threat and when that happens the confidence will come it. I personally think the probability of this happening isn’t high, but I really want to be wrong about Hayes. Otherwise, I don’t think he should be on this roster.
TI: I’m happy. While I still heavily believe this season should be an experimental season, where players should be moving all over the rotation and given time to grow, Killian’s play was becoming concerning. It was clear he needed a shake-up and Casey moved him to a role where he can really blossom and shine. Some guys just need a little change to play better and I think we’re seeing that with Killian. While his future is still up in the air, it looks like he could develop into a nice back PG and you always need one of those so I can’t complain.
(Featured image by Tim Fuller/USA Today Sports)