It seems the Detroit Pistons really are the NBA’s most aggressive team on the trade-talk front.
According to ESPN.com’s Ian Begley, they’re fielding calls on two of their most valuable assets, Stanley Johnson and Luke Kennard. And while the impression, to date, has been that Kennard is unavailable, Johnson is, apparently, fair game:
Forward Stanley Johnson is one name that has come up in the Pistons’ conversations with other teams, per ESPN sources.
Opposing teams have come away with the impression that Johnson is available for the right return.
Teams have also asked Detroit about rookie Luke Kennard, per league sources, though the Pistons don’t appear to be interested in moving their 2017 first-round pick.
Selling on Johnson now makes a ton of sense for the Pistons. Coach-president Stan Van Gundy has long held a soft spot for him, and he remains one of their most versatile defenders, capable guarding four positions on the floor—and sometimes five. But the Pistons’ cap sheet is ballooning, and Johnson will be extension-eligible this summer. They needn’t worry about paying him immediately, but he’ll cost a lot more by 2019-20, when they’ll still have Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Jon Leuer and Langston Galloway on the books—not to mention, presumably, Avery Bradley, who’s due for a new contract this year.
With Kennard showing out, Bradley set to get more expensive himself and Johnson showing few signs of offensive progress beyond his vision, the Pistons are better dealing one of the latter two. Hell, it might make sense to trade both Bradley and Johnson, rather than invest long-term money in either of them.
Pair them together, along with some additional salary filler, and they’ll have themselves a nice offer for another wing or two— players like Evan Fournier, Kent Bazemore, Wilson Chandler and Will Barton, Courtney Lee and Lance Thomas, among others.