Pistons trade options: What can Detroit get for taking contracts into cap space?

Pistons trade options: What can Detroit get for taking contracts into cap space?

Earlier this week, I took a look at the potential non-max free agents the Pistons could target to round out their roster. Detroit does have a max slot available, but sources tell The Athletic it is unlikely that the organization throws a max contract at one of the big-name restricted free agents. However, under general manager Troy Weaver’s watch, that could change in a heartbeat.

Free agency, though, isn’t the only way that the Pistons can utilize their roughly $40 million in cap space. The flexibility that the team created over the last week and change allows Detroit to take on hefty contracts, which could also come with young players or draft picks, as rival teams look to make room to add players of their own.

Here, we’re going to take a look at three potential trades that allow the Pistons to take on a bigger contract while acquiring a piece for the future at the same time.

Charlotte Hornets

Reports out of Charlotte are that the Hornets are looking to unload Gordon Hayward’s hefty contract in order to retain restricted free-agent Miles Bridges. If that’s the case, the Pistons can make that happen for Michael Jordan’s squad while acquiring two starter-level players who could step right in and help the team.

First off, in this scenario, Charlotte would open up more than $20 million in cap space, which would help the franchise immensely. As for the Pistons’ finances, if my math is right, Detroit would still have close to $19 million in cap space to use after a trade like this.

The Hornets get a P.J. Washington replacement in Olynyk and create room to sign Bridges long-term. The Pistons add the soon-to-be 24-year-old Washington, who is a 37.5 percent 3-point shooter for his career at the power forward spot. Washington, who is a year away from restricted free agency, could slot in at the starting power forward spot and provide much-needed floor spacing to the Pistons’ starting lineup.

As for Hayward, yes, his contract for the next two seasons is a lot to handle, especially for someone who hasn’t played 50 games in either of the last two seasons. However, when healthy, the veteran wing is still very good. He’d be a quality complement next to Cade Cunningham in the Pistons’ backcourt if the franchise wants to bring No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey along a bit slow.

To conclude, the Pistons get two starter-level players, one of which is a proven 24-year-old to grow with the young core, and still retain $19 million to spend in the open market in exchange for Olynyk and project guard Saben Lee.

Miami Heat

Duncan Robinson’s lack of defense had him out of Miami’s rotation for most of the playoffs, but the former Michigan Wolverines player can still shoot the rock. The Pistons need that type of deadeye marksmanship.

Robinson, who would reunite with his college coach and current Pistons player development head John Beilein, has four years left on his deal with an average annual salary of about $18 million, but the fourth year of the contract has an early-termination option. Robinson might be overpaid, but that’s about the price of having a high-volume, 40-percent 3-point specialist.

Detroit would only eat about $10 million in cap space, albeit for multiple years. The Pistons would still have, roughly, $30 million at their disposal in the open market.

Attaching a first-round pick to Robinson might be a little too much, but Miami is expected to challenge for a title, so it might not take much to get the Heat to come off of it.

New York Knicks

Is Evan Fournier worth $18 million per year? Probably not, but he is a bucket-getting wing who is a career 38 percent 3-point shooter. Detroit could use more of those guys.

Additionally, Fournier has a team option on the third and final year of his contract. Two years of Fournier at $18 million isn’t terrible when you can cut ties in that third season.

The Knicks would create close to $13 million in cap space in a deal like this, giving the franchise the freedom to do whatever it is that the Knicks are doing. The Pistons collect a starter-level player who might be better served as the go-to scorer off the bench as well as a first-round pick next year. Detroit also gets its 2023 second-round pick back.

I’m a fan of a deal like this. Fournier adds some shot creation that Detroit needs. And, of course, adding draft capital is always a good things. The Knicks can open up even more space to go and get Jalen Brunson and add other pieces to try and become fake contenders in the Eastern Conference.

(Top photo credit of P.J. Washington: Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

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