An active offseason for the Detroit Pistons has yet to yield anything concrete, but it could happen soon.
Detroit is still in the process of finding its new head coach, eagerly awaiting its spot in the 2023 NBA Draft and preparing to add new talent to a young, rebuilding roster that finished last in the league.
There’s a lot on the horizon, so I know there are a lot of questions. Here, I answer fan questions about the 2023-24 season, the search for coaches, potential trades and more.
Your reports (and others) have always turned next season as the year the Pistons turn the corner. Do you anticipate, with the names of Detroit-related coaches, as well as the current roster status and upcoming moves, that Detroit still sees 2023-24 as “the year?” — @timforkindotcom
Just for clarity, I think “turning the corner” should be defined. The front office is realistic, they know the situation they started with, the hiccups along the way (Cade Cunningham, basically, missed the whole season) and what a realistic expectation should be for a young team. When I talk about “turning the corner,” I always understood that Detroit wants to be a team that is in the running for the Play-In tournament. Think Oklahoma City. Think of the Indiana Pacers. The Pistons, rooted in youth, would like to be on or off the doorstep of the playoffs next season. They don’t expect to be title contenders.
To condense it even further, Detroit doesn’t expect to be in the realistic hunt for another top pick. If the lottery gods offer the Pistons one, they’ll take it. However, they prefer to be closer to the middle of the ranking than the bottom. The hope is to have a core in place that grows and develops with noticeable progress.
“Turn the corner” can be internalized in different ways. Detroit wants to be on an upward trajectory and not look back anytime soon.
Do you think the Pistons are waiting until after the lottery to make a final decision on the next head coach? Just in case they fall into the 3-5 range and one of the OTE guys becomes more likely, would that increase Ollie’s case? — @bensquag
No. I wouldn’t be surprised if a coaching hire was made next week. Sources say the top contenders are flying to Los Angeles next week to meet owner Tom Gores. It’s like a decision is getting closer. Could a job come after the lottery? Of course. But I’m sure it has more to do with taking the time to make sure the right choice is made than anything about the draft.
As for Kevin Ollie, his candidacy has nothing to do with the potential of the Overtime Elite players drafted by Detroit. Ollie is someone who some in the organization believe has the personality traits and basketball knowledge necessary to be a successful NBA head coach. Only time will tell if that’s the case, but it looks like the Pistons are very intrigued to find out.
Ollie is a real candidate who I believe is the frontrunner for the vacancy.
How much do you think it would cost to get Khris Middleton this summer? If you were the GM, would you? —@kylemetz23
I love Khris Middleton. I like what he has become as a player in this league. I love his role in Milwaukee.
I wouldn’t give him a big contract.
He’s 31, not far from a lingering knee injury and he surely wants another massive sack in his career. I’d give Middleton a two-year contract (preferably with a team option), at most, for big bucks if he wants it. The risk is worth the reward for this short of a contract. Still, there’s no way Middleton is doing that.
If I were the Pistons, I’d be afraid to commit long-term money to an aging and frequently injured player. We have all seen this story unfold before. Detroit is in a financially comfortable position for the first time in a long time. Doing all of this for Middleton would seem a bit too desperate.
If we fall in the 4-5 pick range, would you trade that pick for a bona fide star? Whoever the next unhappy player asks for a trade, I hope Jaylen Brown – @dannybakst
The fourth or fifth pick in this draft doesn’t get you a “bona fide star” per se. I know fans see the top 5 and think every team is chomping at the bit to get it. It’s not always the case. The NBA Draft is not like the NFL. Some drafts have more potential high-end celebrities than others. Players who expected to be 4-10 in this draft might be good across the board, but I don’t believe the NBA is projecting many of these guys as franchise changers for sure.
For the Pistons to acquire someone like Brown would require more involvement, and probably a third team. The Celtics are in championship contention as long as Jayson Tatum is around. They’re not going to waste his best years betting on a draft pick or a young player who hasn’t proven anything. Guess Boston would want a star in exchange for Brown.
For Detroit to land a “bona fide star” via trade, it would need to part ways with one or two of your favorite players.
What would you think/how likely is Flint’s return to the Pistons? Bojan Bogdanovic and Killian (or Bagley) for Monte Morris and Kyle Kuzma in a sign and trade. — @robbiehumble18
I would pass that.
Kuzma is a good player, but I don’t want to be the person who pays him more than $100 million over the next four years, especially when I still have financial flexibility. If he was more consistent defensively and a better 3-point shooter, I’d be more inclined to do it. He’s a good player but he doesn’t necessarily complement the core of the Pistons.
Bogdanovic fits perfectly alongside Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. When Cunningham returns, Bogdanovic will do less self-creation and be used more as a point shooter, which will greatly benefit the young backyard. He’s also on a team-friendly deal. I would only move Bogdanovic if a no-brainer trade came up. This is not obvious to me.
Which is more likely: Troy uses cap space in the free agent market or in the trade market? — @yert11111
Weaver and Co. will dive into free agency, trying to lure one of the few great free agents (*cough* Jerami Grant *cough). However, if that doesn’t work out, I’d expect Detroit to do some kind of trade to fill a need or two.
I believe Weaver prefers using cap space via trade over free agency because there are fewer hands in the cookie jar.
Do you think Troy Weaver has another “Jalen Duren No. 5” reach prospect on his radar? A guy he might pick higher than most people would feel comfortable with? — @nick__xo
I do not think so — not in this project.
I also believe that after picking number 3 or 4, a GM can make the case for about 6-8 prospects who will become number 5 overall. Class 2023 is deep in a weird way. Not many stars but several prospects who should have a solid career if all goes well with health and development.
And, to go further, I don’t think the Pistons are trying to acquire a second first-round pick this year. Weaver did it in two of his three drafts in Detroit. This season, with so many youngsters already on the roster and the urgency to get better next season, I’d be a little surprised if Detroit came out of the draft with two first-round picks.
(Top photo by Kevin Ollie: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)