Trade Machine Spectacular! Part 1. Lesser Morris.
So to be clear, there has not actually been much of any signs that the Pistons will be making any sort of trade. SVG has said he likes the guys he has. This is just a look at some possibilities and how the changes to the team might work out. ONCE AGAIN I DO NOT CLAIM TO HAVE ANY INSIDE KNOWLEDGE. Also this post is long. Ye be warned. EDIT: This got super long so it is going to be in parts. This will be part 1.
To start I'm going to rank each Pistons player by how available they might be, starting with most unavailable (Andre) down. (and yes they are in order within their categories. As in I would be more willing to trade Jackson than Andre.)
No Touchy: Andre Drummond. Reggie Jackson.
- These 2 are the base of the franchise. There is no realistic trade that I would give up either for. (Like I would trade Reggie for Steph Curry but that isn't happening.) They are both young, good, and will be around for a long time. Pretty simple.
Better be damn near a Godfather offer: Stanley Johnson, KCP, Greater Morris. (KCP and Johnson are nearly interchangeable. And if KCP's 3 point shot starts to fall he would be dead even. The fact that he might just not be a good shooter is the only reason Johnson edges him.)
- All 3 are here for largely different reasons. Johnson is because he is just 19 and already looks good, and absolutely has the potential to be an all star type of player + will be on a cheap rookie contract for the next several years. (and then obviously a restricted FA so if the Pistons want him he will be under team control for a long time.) KCP is also cheap for the next 2 years, is already a solid player, and could still be very good. Also will be restricted so can be under team control for a long time. Greater Morris is a good player and will be under a very good contract for the next several years.
Very much like to keep but could be had: Ersan Ilyasova.
- He is a part of the very good starting lineup, but is also the oldest, under contract for the shortest, and also probably just the worst member of that lineup. I would just assume keep him, but could certainly be had.
Would just assume keep: Jodie Meeks, Spencer Dinwiddie, Darrun Hilliard, Reggie Bullock.
- Meeks is down from the above one due to his injuries, but otherwise has the same stuff as Ersan. Dinwiddie and Hilliard are both young and could end up as decent players and are cheap, but also might not be good. (and Dinwiddie is above Hilliard because the Pistons go 2 deep for next year at both positions Hilliard plays, where as Dinwiddie could well end up the 2nd PG on the roster next year. That is literally the only thing separating them here.) Bullock barely makes this one because he will also be on a cheap contract for 2 more years so he could still end up a well priced bench guy. Basically the same as Dinwiddie/Hilliard but there is more proof that he might just not be a good player.
If someone wants them let them take them: Aron Baynes, Anthony Tolliver, Steve Blake, Joel Anthony.
- Tolly, Blake, and Anthony are all in the same boat. Older guys who are unrestricted beyond this year so while I don't mind having any of them on the team, if a team wants them in a trade go for it. I am still not sure exactly where to put Baynes but ended up deciding on this spot. He is a solid backup, but he is not on a cheap contract for playing 12-15 minutes per game. The reality is that it is not hard to find a backup center who can survive for that little time. So if a team wanted him in a trade I would be fine with it. He is replaceable, even if he is pretty good.
Wild Card: Brandon Jennings.
- It is impossible to say where he should go until we see him play. If he comes back, plays really well and meshes super well into a 6th man role (aka can lead bench mobs as well as play with the starters and be really good. Essentially be Manu Ginobli) then he probably goes up with KCP, Johnson, and Morris. But if he plays really well but does not fit with the rest of the starters (Jackson really) then I would actually put him in his own category of "Try to trade him". (Also please note that outside of potentially Jennings, there is no one I would be trying to trade. I would largely agree with SVG in that I generally like the guys on this team.)
Onto the trades, I will list the guy who the Pistons are theoretically trading for, and first look at how he might work out. And at the end look at the possible trade scenarios.
Trade #1. Trade for Lesser Morris: This is a super interesting one because there are so many variables here, so this is going to go for a bit. First off is the whole twins thing. (and here I will do some body language doctor stuff which I generally try to avoid, because as pretty much anyone who has ever been on a sports team can attest too, if you are not actually on the team and in the locker room, you don't really know what it is like.) And on the whole situation with Kieff, while he obviously has acted poorly, IF the twins took discounts and did not even test free agency because they were made to believe that they would be able to play together. Then they absolutely have a beef. For all that Suns fans want to talk about how "its a business he has to suck it up." Not all businesses treat their employees purely as assets, and not all employees treat their employers as simply the means of receiving their checks. So while it does not mean it is ok that he has acted the way he has, he does have reason to be pissed. Because if that is true it is a pretty crappy thing to do by the Suns FO.
How would he fit?
Markieff is a good basketball player, this is the simple truth. As recently as last year the Suns had decided that he was good enough to be a part of their core going forward. And he could be had for fairly cheap as well. (It has been said the only offers right now would require the Suns to give up an asset to get another team to take him.) Looking purely at the on court side of things. His game is similar to Marcus' but he a better scorer inside and also a better defender. But he is also not as good a outside shooter. And he could well be the true 3rd option on offense that the Pistons desperately need. Him and Marcus could in theory run all around the court setting screens all over the place to try and create switches into mismatches. Marcus already causes issues for teams with some regularity with his ability to kill mismatches. Putting in a second guy (who is even better) could suddenly make the Pistons offense hugely difficult to stop, and while Kieff is not as good a shooter as Ersan, he should figure to have the most open 3s he's ever had in his career spotting up around Jackson/Drummond. So he would probably be just fine. And on defense he is generally very solid. Once again, it is similar, but slightly better, than Marcus. He is very good when engaged, and is also pretty versatile. The difference is that Kieff is taller and as such he can also provide a dash of rim protection. The biggest on court issue is that he might be a little redundant. While in theory having 2 guys who can kill teams on mismatches and create their own shots could be awesome to put alongside the Jackson/Drummond PnR, it might just be that the Pistons would end up having to dedicate a few more possessions per game to isolations. Which the twins are both solid at, but it should be made clear, that a big reason why Marcus has been good for the Pistons is because his post ups are a better option than most anything else the Pistons have. But in theory you would not want him doing it quite so much. So while have a second Morris might make both of their isolations exponentially better, it also might just mean that the Pistons have 2 guys to go iso a few times per game instead of just 1. The other worry is that if Kieff is actually a much worse shooter than Ersan, how would that effect the PnR with the worse spacing. (once again I think it would probably not actually be a huge drop off, but it is certainly possible that it would be large.) The other thing is that he has played like crap this year, so it has to be at least a little worrying that he might actually have started to kind of suck. (one thing, since Kieff is known as a ball stopper. Not a worry here. The Pistons have miserable ball movement as it is and Ersan/Tolly are not exactly awesome passers. It is literally impossible for him to make them worse in this regard.)
But what about the attitude stuff?
Welp, once again I generally do not like to do this, but whatever. I think that the Morris twins have a bit of an attitude problem, but are not complete knuckle heads. Remember that before this year Suns fans were largely ok with both of them. And only started crapping on them when the twins started crapping on the Suns. I also think would say that there is some good evidence for that the Suns have not had the best locker room. Other guys have had problems, and other guys on the team have racked up techs as well. So I think it might be a case of that the Suns sort of brought out the worst in him. Marcus has been a model citizen by any means since arriving. And if there is one thing that would make Kieff happy and satisfied enough to get in line it would be reuniting with his brother. Then looking at the Pistons locker room, they now have a couple of guys in Drummond and Jackson who are clearly the best players on the team and also have Blake and Anthony as old timer leaders. Plus guys like Johnson and KCP who work as hard as anyone in the NBA. And more than anything else, the Pistons have SVG. Who is not perfect in this regard (see Smith, Josh) but he has given good reason to believe in his ability to take guys who have struggled in various ways other places and making them work. (and in that I include the way the Twins would tend to play 2 on 5 when on the floor together. I think that SVG would probably be able to get them to not do that.)
Would I take him?
Maybe. If the Pistons could get him for something other than a starter + Johnson, definitely. He could come in as a super sub, not break up the awesome starters, and if he does not work out the Pistons did not give up anything significant for him. If the Pistons had to include Ersan/a first round pick I would be more hesitant. Because as much as I would like to think that the Pistons could make him work, he could totally flop. So it would suck if the Pistons ruined their excellent starting lineup for a guy who did not work out. In the end I have a maybe, because if the Pistons traded for him I would be totally behind it, and if they did not I would be totally behind it. Because at this point I trust SVG. If he trades for Kieff it means that SVG has faith he can make him work. And even if that trade were to include Ersan, Kieff is a better player than Ersan when he is playing well, and as such would make this team better.
Best case scenario: Pistons trade nothing significant for him, and he ends up joining the core as another young guy who is on a great contract and his hard nosed attitude fits in with the team and city perfectly and he and Marcus end up forming a killer front court duo and SVG corrals him into not being a idiot.
Worst case scenario: Pistons trade a real asset for him and he flops, resulting in Kieff being traded again/possibly even being cut. And resulting in Marcus getting super pissy in the same way Kieff has been in Phoenix resulting in the Pistons essentially losing a guy who looked like a real part of the future.
Possible trade scenarios: (I am not saying both teams would agree to these, just ones that work in the trade machine and are not too laughably one sided. Also picks are not included in these and could be thrown into any of them.)
Pistons receive: Markieff Morris. Suns receive: Tolly, Baynes.
Pistons receive: Kieff. Suns receive: Ersan Ilyasova.
Pistons receive: Kieff. Suns receive: Jodie Meeks, Anthony Tolliver.
(There are several other combinations that could work here, feel free to mess with it yourself. Those are just 3.)
So this is part 1. Part 2 will look at Ryan Anderson. There are a couple others that I will probably look at, but if you have any suggestions leave them in the comments.
What do you think? Think SVG could figure it out? Think the Twins would fit in in Detroit? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter!