The Pistons‘ draft haul Thursday night makes it less likely that they’ll pursue Suns center Deandre Ayton in free agency, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Ayton was believed to be Detroit’s main target after opening up roughly $43MM in cap space by agreeing to trade Jerami Grant to the Trail Blazers. Thursday’s deals knock that number down to about $30MM, which sources tell Edwards the team plans to use to sign multiple players rather than handing out one large contract.
The Pistons landed their center of the future by acquiring Jalen Duren of Memphis, who “blew away” the organization during the pre-draft process, according to Edwards’ sources. Multiple teams called Detroit in hopes of making a deal for No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey, but the Pistons were more interested in landing another first-round selection. One of those calls came from the Knicks, who needed to offload salary in hopes of making a run at free agent guard Jalen Brunson. Detroit was able to use some of its cap room to take on Kemba Walker‘s contract, valued at $9.17MM next season, and received Duren, whom New York acquired from the Hornets in a previous deal.
Detroit now has an exciting young core with Ivey and Duren joining Cade Cunningham, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey, along with enough cap room to be a significant player in free agency. The Pistons are still expected to be big spenders when the process begins next week, sources tell Edwards.
There’s more from the Central Division:
- The Cavaliers passed on several younger talents to take four-year college player Ochai Agbaji, notes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. After reaching the play-in tournament this season, Cleveland was focused on finding someone who could contribute right away, and there’s hope that the Kansas sharpshooter will add another dimension to the offense. The Cavs were extremely interested in French star Ousmane Dieng, Fedor adds, and would have considered him at No. 14 if the Thunder hadn’t traded up to grab him with the 11th pick.
- The Pacers had numerous trade opportunities Thursday night, but nothing worth pulling the trigger on, according to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. “We’re always gonna be aggressive, but there’s always certain price points,” general manager Chad Buchanan said. “Sometimes you have to walk away from deals if it’s not right for your team.”
- Finding a rim protector will be one of the Bulls‘ priorities for the summer, tweets Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. The Bulls will explore their options through free agency and trades, according to general manager Marc Eversley, who suggested the team wants a player who can complement current center Nikola Vucevic.