Instead of heading to the G League, Dennis Smith Jr. will get a chance to revive his career in Detroit, writes James L. Edwards of The Athletic. Smith and a second-round pick were the price the Knicks paid to acquire long-time Tom Thibodeau favorite Derrick Rose. The move is another step in the rebuilding process for Detroit, which already owns the league’s worst record at 5-18.
It’s the second trade in 24 months for Smith, who had two disappointing seasons in New York after being acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis deal. He fell far out of the rotation after Thibodeau took over and got into just three games this season. He’s far more likely to get playing time with the Pistons, especially with Killian Hayes recovering from a torn labrum in his right hip. Detroit saved nearly $2MM in the deal and will get a few months to evaluate Smith before deciding whether to extend a $7MM+ qualifying offer when his rookie deal expires after this season.
A bigger prize for Detroit is the draft pick, which originally belonged to the Hornets, Edwards states. The Pistons also own the Raptors’ second-round choice, along with their own first-rounder, which currently has the best odds of being No. 1 overall. The team is positioned to add more young talent in a draft class that is considered to be one of the best in years.
There’s more this morning from Detroit:
- The Pistons were initially asking for Kevin Knox instead of Smith, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who speculates that the Knicks could be saving Knox for another trade.
- Pistons coach Dwane Casey believes free agent addition Jerami Grant should be an All-Star selection (video link from The Detroit News). Grant has stepped up his game since signing with Detroit, averaging 24.0 PPG, double what he scored last year in Denver. “I hope the true basketball fan sees what he’s doing, the all-around game, not just the scorer,” Casey said.
- Edwards and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic examine the progress of the Pistons’ rookies through the first third of the season. Hayes was still adjusting to the NBA when he suffered the injury, Saddiq Bey has been a valuable shooter but is otherwise limited offensively, and Isaiah Stewart has been impressive with his energy and competitiveness.