Saturday, December 5, 2015

Scouring the Early Trade Market

Despite an opening month or so of struggling offensively and trying to get their bench to provide any kind of support, the Pistons are two games on the right side of .500.  At this time a year ago, 11-9 would have had the Pistons in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference.  This year, in a vastly improved conference, Detroit's sitting in a tie for 9th and it's probably time to start looking at ways to ensure this young core doesn't squander a chance to make its first playoff appearance.  The starting five, outside of KCP's offensive inconsistencies, doesn't need much improvement, so a small move or two to improve a struggling bench should be all the Pistons need to keep things headed in the right direction.  The December 15th trade eligibility date for players signed this past offseason is right around the corner, and we could see trade action slowly pick up from here.  Let's take a look at some players the Pistons could add to improve the league's worst reserve unit.

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A few things need to be considered when looking at potential targets.  First, Brandon Jennings might return in 3-4 weeks.  At that point, we're talking about a guy who hasn't played in approximately 11 months coming off of an Achilles injury.  Steve Blake is washed, Spencer Dinwiddie is unproven, and acquiring another insurance PG should be on the table.  With Jodie Meeks likely out until February, and Stanley Johnson capable of playing both wing spots, another SG or SF could also be an option.  Reggie Bullock isn't capable of handling major minutes, and Darrun Hilliard probably isn't to the point in his development where he can be trusted on a nightly basis.  If it's up to me and I can only make one move, I'm grabbing a wing.  Anthony Tolliver has struggled with consistency, but he's got a good track record and has the ability to make the hustle plays that don't come from anyone else on this team.  Adding another PF couldn't hurt, but resources could be spent better elsewhere.  Aron Baynes and Joel Anthony are adequate at C, so no suggestions needed there.  Assets available to make an upgrade are somewhat limited.  Detroit's not stupid enough to trade a first round pick (unless it's so protected it will never be conveyed), and they only own two second round picks over the next five years.  They may need to take on a bad contract as part of a deal to get something of value done.

Target: PG Ray McCallum - San Antonio Spurs

GPPPGPERTS%3P%3PArFTrAST%TOV%TRB%
2015-16 101.05.645.5%0%0.09106.7%21.4%8.9%
Career1236.411.347.4%32.7%0.2190.16321.9%13.2%6.3%

The Spurs acquired McCallum in the offseason for their 2016 second round pick, which figures to fall somewhere between 55 and 60.  The Spurs also have Patty Mills, so McCallum doesn't factor into their rotation heavily.  McCallum, who played for his dad at UD-Mercy and won a state title at Detroit Country Day, would be a bit of a gamble if the Pistons were to bring him in.  Outside of a really solid stretch to close out his rookie year, McCallum is about as proven as Spencer Dinwiddie at this point.  He's the kind of guy it would only make sense to acquire if they're truly ready to move on from Dinwiddie or Blake, because he's not a guaranteed upgrade.  With that being considered, he also shouldn't be an expensive acquisition if San Antonio is open to moving him.

Possible trade: Ray McCallum for Spencer Dinwiddie and a 2016 2nd round pick, top-40 protected

Target: PG Brian Roberts - Charlotte Hornets

GPPPGPERTS%3P%3PArFTrAST%TOV%TRB%
2015-16 82.49.737.5%33%0.1250.12521.2%3.8%7.7%
Career2307.513.251.1%35.3%0.3360.18323.4%11.7%4.6%

Roberts was really solid as a backup for New Orleans between 2012 and 2014, before landing in Charlotte as a free agent prior to last season.  He struggled with his shot last year and has mostly fallen out of the rotation in favor of Jeremy Lin this season.  Much like McCallum, he's not a guarantee to be an upgrade on Blake or Dinwiddie, but he would also be a low-cost target.  His contract expires at the end of the season, so there's little risk in giving him a shot.

Potential trade: Brian Roberts for Steve Blake and rights to a 2018 2nd round pick swap

Target: SG Tim Hardaway Jr. - Atlanta Hawks

GPPPGPERTS%3P%3PArFTrAST%TOV%TRB%
2015-16 42.53.636.0%25.0%0.6150.1546.3%6.7%6.3%
Career15510.612.353.1%35.1%0.5080.2029.4%7.8%4.6%

The Hawks curiously traded their first round pick in a three team deal for Tim Hardaway Jr. on draft night, and even more curiously, they've only played him 44 minutes this season.  Whatever it was that their front office saw in him is being overlooked at this point.  Whether or not that means he's available now is an unknown.  He's only on this list because of my speculation.  If he is available, his outside shooting and streaky offense could help fill the gap left by Jodie Meeks' injury.  That he was acquired for a first round pick this summer could make him cost prohibitive.

Potential trade: Tim Hardaway Jr. for Darrun Hilliard and a 2016 2nd round pick (This probably isn't enough for Atlanta, but it's the best the Pistons can do.  A third team may be required.)

Target: SG John Jenkins - Dallas Mavericks

GPPPGPERTS%3P%3PArFTrAST%TOV%TRB%
2015-16 83.68.245.7%11.1%0.3000.13311.6%15.9%7.4%
Career1065.512.556.9%36.4%0.4670.2099.4%11.4%6.6%

The Mavs signed Jenkins to a contract this summer (three years, last two unguaranteed), and gave him a start at SG in the second game of the season.  He scored 17 points in that start, but he's been buried on the depth chart since, only appearing in 8 games.  Jenkins is in his fourth NBA season, but at only 24 years old, he's had few opportunities to be a contributor.  He's scored efficiently when given chances, so he may be the best "buy low" candidate on this list.  Since he was signed this offseason, he's not eligible to be traded until December 15th.

Potential trade: John Jenkins for Darrun Hilliard and a 2016 2nd round pick

Target: G/F Hollis Thompson - Philadelphia 76ers

GPPPGPERTS%3P%3PArFTrAST%TOV%TRB%
2015-16 209.79.853.9%39.4%0.6230.1628.3%14.4%7.9%
Career1687.610.254.9%40.0%0.5160.1757.4%11.8%7.0%

Thompson does one thing and he does it well: shoot the basketball.  I've been campaigning for the Pistons to pry Thompson out of basketball purgatory since I started this blog.  He's a career 40% shooter despite playing in an offense that generally doesn't create good looks.  Put him in Detroit, and he can help space the floor from both wing positions.  Philly isn't trying to win anytime soon, so a pick or two should be sufficient to pry him away.

Potential trade: Hollis Thompson for Reggie Bullock and a 2016 2nd round pick (If Philly wants Hilliard instead, make it happen)

Target: SF Joe Ingles - Utah Jazz

GPPPGPERTS%3P%3PArFTrAST%TOV%TRB%
2015-16 173.911.364.9%46.7%0.6000.04010.2%17.8%7.4%
Career964.89.854.7%37.1%0.5740.10416.0%20.5%6.2%

Ingles is similar to Thompson, except add in some playmaking and some turnovers along the way.  He's 28 years old, but only in his second season in the league after playing the first part of his career in Europe.  The Jazz have enough depth on the wings that they probably wouldn't miss him if they were inclined to add another one of the Pistons' second round picks to their asset sheet.

Potential trade: Joe Ingles for Reggie Bullock, Spencer Dinwiddie and a 2018 top 40 protected 2nd round pick (I wouldn't give up Hilliard in this one)

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