Pistons Rumors

Pistons Sign Three First-Round Picks

The Pistons have signed first-round picks Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey, according to a team press release.

Hayes, a point guard from France, was the highest of those picks, going with the No. 7 selection. Assuming he received 120% of the rookie scale for his slot, Hayes will make $5,307,120 in his first season and can make $24,131,515 over the next four years if team options are exercised in the third and fourth seasons.

Stewart and Bey were acquired in draft night agreements. Stewart, a center, was chosen with the No. 16 pick. He’ll make $3,121,080 in his first year and can make $15,098,193 over the next four seasons.

Bey, a forward, was taken with the 19th selection. He’ll bring in $2,689,920 as a rookie and can make $13,030,303 over the next four seasons.

Guard Saben Lee, a second-round pick, was also inked. He will reportedly play on a two-way contract.

Pistons Waive Zhaire Smith

The Pistons have placed swingman Zhaire Smith on waivers, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

The transaction was expected, as Detroit’s plan to waive Smith was previously reported. The Pistons officially acquired Smith from the 76ers in exchange for center Tony Bradley a week ago.

Smith was due to make $3.2MM during the upcoming season but that was the only guarantee left on his rookie contract. His $4.915MM salary for the 2021/22 season includes a team option.

There’s a good chance Detroit will use the stretch provision on Smith’s contract. Only the guaranteed money would count, so if the Pistons stretch his contract for three years, the cap hit would be around $1MM per season.

Smith was drafted just outside the lottery with the No. 16 pick in the 2018 draft but his first two seasons were marred by injuries.  He’s appeared in just 13 NBA games.

Ex-Pistons Guard Will Bynum Discusses New Pistons Guard Killian Hayes

  • Former Pistons guard Will Bynum, now a trainer and founder of The Grind Family skills academy for basketball players, recently discussed his experience training new Detroit point guard Killian Hayes, according to Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press Pistons. “His lateral footwork is really, really good,” Bynum said. “His hands are quick. And he has the patience to defend really, really good rhythm players offensively.”

Wright To Pistons, Ariza To Thunder, Johnson To Mavs In Three-Team Trade

NOVEMBER 27: The Thunder, Mavericks, and Pistons have officially finalized their three-team trade, according to press releases from the teams. As detailed below, Ariza and Jackson are headed to Oklahoma City, Johnson is going to Dallas, and Wright moves to Detroit.

The Thunder also acquired a 2023 second-round pick (the more favorable of Dallas’ and Miami’s picks) and the Mavs’ 2026 second-rounder in the deal.


NOVEMBER 21: The Thunder, Mavericks, and Pistons have agreed to a three-team trade, according to reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links) and Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links).

The move will send James Johnson from Oklahoma City to Dallas and Delon Wright from Dallas to Detroit. The Thunder will receive Trevor Ariza (from the Pistons), Justin Jackson (from the Mavericks), and – unsurprisingly – some form of draft compensation.

From the Mavericks’ perspective, the deal will allow them to open up a roster spot and add some veteran toughness, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who tweets that Dallas intends to keep Johnson on its roster. Moving Wright, who had two years left on his contract, and taking back Johnson’s expiring $16MM deal also allows the Mavs to create some added cap flexibility for the summer of 2021.

The Pistons will reduce team salary for 2020/21 and will reunite Wright with his former coach in Toronto, Dwane Casey. Having signed a three-year deal in Dallas in 2019, Wright had a decent year off the bench, averaging 6.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 3.3 APG in 73 games (21.5 MPG). But he became expendable when the club acquired Josh Richardson earlier this week.

As for the Thunder, I’d be surprised if they have big plans for Ariza or Jackson — they simply saw another opportunity to pick up an extra draft pick to add to Sam Presti‘s constantly-growing collection.

Ariza, who is still technically a member of the Blazers, has now been part of trade agreements that will send him to Houston, Detroit, and Oklahoma City within the last few days. Those deals will all be completed after the transaction moratorium lifts on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Teams With Hard Caps For 2020/21

The NBA salary cap is somewhat malleable, with various exceptions allowing every team to surpass the $109,140,000 threshold once their room is used up. In some cases, teams blow past not only the cap limit, but the luxury-tax limit of $132,627,000 as well — the Warriors project to have a nine-figure tax bill this season as a result of their spending.

The NBA doesn’t have a “hard cap” by default, which allows a club like Golden State to build a significant payroll without violating CBA rules. However, there are certain scenarios in which teams can be hard-capped, as we explain in a glossary entry.

When a club uses the bi-annual exception, acquires a player via sign-and-trade, or uses more than the taxpayer portion ($5,718,000) of the mid-level exception, that club will face a hard cap for the remainder of the league year.

When a team becomes hard-capped, it cannot exceed the “tax apron” at any point during the rest of the league year. The tax apron was set $6MM above the luxury tax line in 2017/18 (the first year of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement) and creeps up a little higher each time the cap increases. For the 2020/21 league year, the tax apron – and hard cap for certain clubs – is set at $138,928,000.

More than half the teams in the NBA have been willing to hard-cap themselves this offseason, and in some cases, it will significantly impact a team’s ability to add further reinforcements later in the league year. The Bucks and Lakers are among the teams right up against the hard cap, which may prevent them from being players in free agency during the season unless they can shed salary.

For other clubs, the hard cap is just a technicality that won’t affect their plans. The Hawks and Thunder are among the hard-capped clubs that will have zero practical concerns about reaching that threshold in 2020/21.

Listed below are the hard-capped teams for the 2020/21 league year, along with how they created a hard cap.


Atlanta Hawks

Boston Celtics

Charlotte Hornets

Dallas Mavericks

Denver Nuggets

Detroit Pistons

  • Acquired Jerami Grant from the Nuggets via sign-and-trade.

Houston Rockets

Los Angeles Clippers

  • Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Serge Ibaka.

Los Angeles Lakers

Miami Heat

Milwaukee Bucks

New York Knicks

Oklahoma City Thunder

Phoenix Suns

  • Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Jae Crowder.

Portland Trail Blazers

Toronto Raptors

Utah Jazz

Washington Wizards

  • Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Robin Lopez.

This list could continue to grow during the offseason if other teams acquire a player via sign-and-trade, use more than the taxpayer portion of their mid-level exception, or use their bi-annual exception.

Central Notes: Pacers, Hayward, Kennard, Pistons, Bucks, Bulls

In a pair of stories, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files and J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required) provide a few additional details on the Pacers‘ pursuit of Gordon Hayward in free agency, confirming that the Celtics sought a second starting player in addition to Myles Turner in a potential Hayward sign-and-trade. That lines up with what Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe reported last week.

Agness says that Hayward and his family purchased a home in the Indianapolis area over a year ago and that his wife was excited about the possibility of moving back to Indiana. However, Ainge apparently drove a hard bargain in trade discussions — Michael reports that even an offer of Turner, a first-round pick, and a rotation player (possibly Doug McDermott, as Washburn reported) wasn’t enough to win over the Celtics.

It’s possible that the hard line drawn by Ainge wouldn’t have ultimately mattered — the Hornets‘ offer of four years and $120MM was about $15MM higher than the Pacers were willing to go, according to Agness. That difference certainly may have been enough to lure Hayward to Charlotte even if the Pacers and Celtics had agreed to trade terms.

Still, both Agness’ and Michael’s reports seem to suggest there was a window when the two teams’ inability to work out a sign-and-trade agreement may have been the only thing standing in the way of Hayward going to Indiana. According to Michael, once the Hornets put their $120MM offer on the table, Ainge wanted to go back to the Pacers to negotiate in “good faith,” but Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein “pulled the plug” on that as the veteran forward chose Charlotte.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • It flew under the radar a little since it wasn’t reported as part of the initial agreement, but the Pistons gave up an eye-popping four second-round picks in their deal that sent Luke Kennard to the Clippers and landed them No. 19 pick Saddiq Bey. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Insider link), those four second-rounders “appear to have been in part the cost of Kennard’s past knee issues.” However, Kennard’s camp is confident those issues are behind him, and it seems the Clippers are too, writes Lowe.
  • While the 2020 draft may not be packed with future stars, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said his club “really liked” this year’s class, which was why the team traded for multiple extra picks. “We liked the players that were in it and we just felt there were quality young men that could help continue to build our program, we were aggressive,” Weaver said, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Referring to Bey, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, and Saben Lee, the Pistons’ GM added, “Hopefully, we can look back in time and call this our core four.”
  • The failed Bogdan Bogdanovic sign-and-trade was a bad look for the franchise, but Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription required) contends there’s a case to be made that the Bucks will ultimately be better off with the moves they made instead. Not landing Bogdanovic allowed Milwaukee to offer more than the minimum to add role players like D.J. Augustin, Bobby Portis, and Bryn Forbes, and the team didn’t end up having to part with promising 23-year-old Donte DiVincenzo.
  • In his latest mailbag, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago fields questions about the Bulls‘ surprising No. 4 draft pick and the club’s relatively quiet free agent period.

Pistons Made Exploratory Call About Potential Griffin/Wall Trade

The Pistons made an exploratory call to the Wizards in recent weeks to ask about the possibility of a trade involving Blake Griffin and John Wall, sources tell Zach Lowe of ESPN.

However, Detroit’s level of interest in that sort of deal is unclear, according to Lowe, who says that conversations didn’t go anywhere.

Lowe speculates that the Pistons likely would’ve wanted extra assets in any swap involving the two former All-Stars, since the team values Griffin. Plus, Wall has an extra year left on his slightly-pricier contract. He’s due about $133MM over the next three years, while Griffin “only” has about $75.8MM left over two years.

While a deal between the two teams would be an interesting one, it doesn’t appear to have any momentum, and the Wizards don’t seem to be actively exploring the market for Wall. A report last week indicated that former No. 1 overall pick had made it clear he wants to be traded out of Washington, but general manager Tommy Sheppard denied on Monday that Wall had asked him for a trade, and said the team has no plans to move its starting point guard.

Fred Katz of The Athletic wonders if the Wizards will take a similar approach to Wall that the Thunder did last year with Chris Paul. Oklahoma City would’ve had a tough time getting any positive value for Paul in 2019, but after he rebuilt his value with a strong ’19/20 performance, teams were more willing to roll the dice on him, particularly with just two years left on his oversized contract. If Wall comes back strong in ’20/21, it may increase the odds of an eventual deal.

For what it’s worth, Wall was asked at a community event on Tuesday if he had requested a trade and replied, “No comment” (Twitter link via Ava Wallace of The Washington Post).

Pistons To Sign Veteran Guard Ellington

Free agent shooting guard Wayne Ellington has agreed to a one-year, $2.6MM contract with the Pistons, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

The Pistons, who have engaged in a flurry of roster moves over the past week, are hard-capped but needed backcourt help and decided to bring in Ellington on a veteran’s minimum contract. Svi Mykhailiuk is the only other natural shooting guard on the roster.

This is Ellington’s second stint with the organization. He played 28 games for the Detroit during the 2018/19 season. He saw action in 36 games with the Knicks last season, averaging 5.1 PPG and 15.1 MPG. Ellington, 32, is a career 37.8% 3-point shooter.

Pistons Waive Center Dewayne Dedmon

The Pistons have waived recently-acquired center Dewayne Dedmon, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets.

Detroit officially acquired Dedmon from the Hawks on Friday and sent out wings Tony Snell and Khyri Thomas in the deal. However, the Pistons had no intention of keeping Dedmon, who has a $13.3MM guaranteed contract in 2020/21.

Dedmon also had a $13.3MM salary for ’21/22 but it was only guaranteed for $1MM. Detroit is expected to use the stretch provision to distribute the cap hit over five seasons. Dedmon would only count $2.9MM per season against the Pistons’ cap if his salary is stretched.

Dedmon, 31, appeared in a combined 44 games with the Kings and Hawks last season. He’s averaged 6.4 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 18.3 MPG over 394 career games.

Rockets, Pistons Complete Christian Wood Sign-And-Trade

3:59pm: Bobby Marks of ESPN has the new protections on the Pistons’ first-round pick being sent to Houston in the deal. According to Marks (Twitter link), it’s top-16 protected in 2021 and 2022, top-18 in ’23 and ’24, top-13 in ’25, top-11 in ’26, and top-nine in ’27. If it still hasn’t changed hands by that point, the Rockets will get a 2027 second-round pick.


3:38pm: The Pistons and Rockets each issued press releases today to formally announce that free agent big man Christian Wood has officially been sent to Houston in a sign-and-trade deal.

The move combines Wood’s deal with the Trevor Ariza trade the two teams originally agreed to last week. The end result is as follows:

  • Pistons acquire Ariza, the draft rights to Isaiah Stewart (the No. 16 pick in the draft), cash ($4.6MM), and a future Rockets second-round pick.
  • Rockets acquire Wood (via sign-and-trade), the Pistons’ 2021 first-round pick (heavily protected) and the Lakers’ 2021 second-round pick.

The Pistons’ and Rockets’ official announcements offer even fewer specifics than outlined above, so we’ll have to wait for clarification on the last few aspects of the deal, such as the future second-rounder going to Detroit and the protections on the first-round pick going to Houston.

That Pistons first-rounder was initially expected to be top-16 protected for four years, but Detroit reportedly increased the protections a little further when the team agreed to accommodate Wood’s sign-and-trade. The Rockets were unable to offer Wood his three-year, $41MM deal without the Pistons’ cooperation.

Now that this deal is complete, Ariza can be traded for the third time of the offseason. The veteran forward has already been sent from Portland to Houston to Detroit and will now be rerouted to Oklahoma City as part of a three-team trade involving the Pistons, Thunder, and Mavericks.

Meanwhile, the Rockets officially add one of the top free agents of this year’s class. Wood had a breakout year in 2019/20, though his full-season stats (13.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG) don’t tell the full story — after he entered the starting lineup following the Pistons’ Andre Drummond trade, he recorded 22.8 PPG, 9.9 RPG, and 2.0 APG over his final 13 games.

Wood will join a Rockets squad that no longer seems intent on continuing the micro-ball experiment that they attempted last season after trading Clint Capela to Atlanta. Houston has also reached a deal to sign DeMarcus Cousins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.