Bucks, Pistons Agree To Stanley Johnson, Thon Maker Trade

Update: This trade agreement has been rolled into a second deal between the Bucks and Pelicans to make it a three-team trade. You can read the full story here.

The Bucks and Pistons are in the process of finalizing a trade that will send forward Stanley Johnson to Milwaukee and big man Thon Maker to Detroit, a league source tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the deal has been agreed to in principle.

The move will see two Central Division teams swap a pair of former lottery picks that had fallen out of their clubs’ long-term plans. It’s a straight-up, one-for-one trade with no additional players or draft assets, tweets James Edwards III of The Athletic.

Johnson, the eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, seemed set to assume a larger role for the Pistons in 2018/19 after starting 50 games last season. However, the 22-year-old has taken a step back, averaging 20.0 minutes per game after playing 27.4 MPG in 2017/18. His shooting numbers have also failed to improve over the course of his career. His .381 FG% and .282 3PT% this season are about in line with his career rates.

Because he’s in his fourth NBA season, Johnson will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer, but he was unlikely to receive a qualifying offer from the Pistons, as Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press notes (via Twitter). The Bucks will get the opportunity to audition him as a three-and-D wing down the stretch in 2018/19 before deciding this summer whether they want to try to keep him around for a little longer.

As for Maker, the 10th overall pick from 2016’s draft has also seen his role reduced this season. The 7’1″ center, who will turn 22 later this month, appeared in 35 games for Milwaukee, averaging 4.7 PPG and 2.7 RPG in just 11.7 minutes per game. Given Maker’s limited playing time, his agent asked the Bucks to trade him to a team that would give him a greater opportunity.

Maker will get that opportunity in Detroit, where he’ll reunite with former Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps observes (via Twitter). The Pistons aren’t exactly stacked with a deep and talented frontcourt behind Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, so Maker should get the chance to battle the likes of Zaza Pachulia and Jon Leuer for minutes in Dwane Casey‘s rotation. He also remains under contract for one more year before reaching restricted free agency in 2020.

Maker is earning a salary of about $2.8MM in 2018/19, while Johnson’s cap hit is $3.94MM. Trade rules allow for that modest difference in salaries, which will benefit the Pistons — as a result of this deal and their trade sending Reggie Bullock to the Lakers, they’ve created an extra $2MM+ in breathing room below the luxury tax line, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes.

The Pistons will also generate a small trade exception worth the difference in the two players’ salaries ($1,140,682).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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20 thoughts on “Bucks, Pistons Agree To Stanley Johnson, Thon Maker Trade

      • brewpackbuckbadg

        Well no picks. Pistons get more control and Bucks get maybe someone that can crack the rotation. Will they offer him a contract this summer is the question?

    • Nebraska Tim

      Weird is the right description!

      It will be interesting to see how these players do on their new teams.

      A curious deal, nonetheless.

      • jump shot

        Thats what “trades” are all about… it wouldnt make sense to trade position for position – that would be weird. Imo, what’s “weird” is the proposed swap of Conley/Gasol and Kyle Lowry/JV. I understand it but…

    • mcmillankmm

      I like it for Detroit, gives them an extra year of control in exchange for a player they weren’t going to re-sign

  1. scottstots

    frees up a little bit of money for the bucks this summer and gives thon a chance to play.

    • Luke Adams

      Will be $4.5MM if he fails to reach the starter criteria, which is likely (he’d need to start 25 more games or play 1,039 minutes the rest of the way to reach the starter criteria, which would bump his QO to $5.3MM).

      • cecilcooper1

        I think the Bucks have zero interest in resigning him. This is all about moving a uphappy player and removing his contract from the books.

  2. Kind of a weird trade for both teams but it makes sense. Detroit acquires a high upside, stretch big to develop and potentially play with/behind Griffin and Drummond. Maker wasn’t happy in Milwaukee anymore so the best option was to move him before he becomes a locker room issue or his value craters. Johnson looks nonexistant on the offensive end but has been really good defensively. So Milwaukee is getting another decent wing player that they can throw out there against Boston, Toronto, Philly and Golden State (if Milwaukee makes it to the Finals). At the very least, it should give Milwaukee a player to soak up some additional minutes for Middleton/Brogdan.

    • hill

      Thon is a lot of things.

      But “high upside” he is not.

      He can’t catch the ball, JT. He can’t absorb any contact. He can’t rebound. His shot release is very slow.

      He can play a hyper-disruptive D but it often comes at the expense of system, he exposes back sides, over-helps and leaves OReb gaps.

      He’ll fit fine on a sub .500 team going nowhere. He would have been a nice gadget for MKE to release in small bursts in the playoffs as in years past. And he’s a terrific dude. Shame he’s gotten some wicked bad advice and pouted his way out.

      • Those are all teachable things though. I’m not saying he’ll ever be even an average NBA player but the upside is there. In other words, he’s extremely raw. He’s already a switchable big (with plenty of learning to do defensively like other young players) that has some semblance of outside shooting ability. In a spread, positionless league he has the potential to be something.

        Defensively the effort/energy is there, which is roughly 50% of what you need to be decent defensively. You can teach technique and work on awareness as he matures. If he can bulk up, he’ll be able to absorb contact. Rebounding will come with bulking up and awareness. Again, he might not ever be even an average NBA player but there is upside. I was being too generous by saying “high” upside but there’s a lot worse project players to take a chance on.

        • x%sure

          Your posts during this rush have been excellent but. . .

          Look up “Thon Maker Age”. How does he evaluate as a 26-yo?
          Your likely response demonstrates the value of a deception, if enthusiasm for Maker’s continued employment is reduced.
          For teenage immigrants it is a good idea to adjust children’s ages by claim, to get them acclimated before they leave home in the new world. But as adults the lie has to be kept, and it can be profitable to do so.

          For good or bad, there’s no good way to test for age in humans. There are changes around 13-15 to look for, after that it’s a guess. Algorithms with a variety of variables are used. Sternum pieces are said to be united by 25, so there’s that. I suspect Maker’s sternum pieces are all well fused, and he already is what he can be.

          Has he even changed in three years with the Bucks?– turnovers are down, but that is a mark of maturity.

          • I mean if Maker is actually 2-5 years older than what he claims to be, obviously his “upside” changes. But if he’s 21 as he claims to be then there’s still time and room to grow. Again, I’m not saying he’ll ever be an average player, let alone a good one, but if he is actually 21 than he can still be considered extremely raw. The Pistons are clearly tanking and taking a shot at an extremely raw project with upside is worth it for them.

  3. Michael Chaney

    It’s a little unusual, but I think it’s clever for both sides. I’m a fan.

  4. x%sure

    IDK what’s weird about the trade. It’s only fair that they should both get a couple of new chances before disappearing.

  5. Whatever it is as a trade, it isn’t helping convince Blake Griffin his effort is being rewarded…

  6. sheacrazies

    KG once said Thon could be a future mvp. I’m not sure about that but I’ve always thought he had really high upside

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