Pistons chief cook and bottle washer Stan Van Gundy wasn’t happy after his team took a step back into Draft Lottery territory with a 37-45 record this past season and he’s looking to make a deal. Raptors president Masai Ujiri’s team won 51 games, but he’s got his own moves to make as keeping his key guys together means a trip into Luxury Tax territory. Just maybe these two decision-makers should be talking trade?
The Detroit News’ Rod Beard says Van Gundy is pressing to make changes.
“Would we like to make changes this summer? Absolutely. Is it a priority to be out trying to make changes? Absolutely. We need to make improvements,” Van Gundy said.
“We’re not under the cap, so our way to make changes and get better is through trades.”
Van Gundy insists wholesale changes aren’t needed, but his team needs help in a number of areas, especially three-point shooting and unfortunately last year’s big stretch four free agent acquisition Jon Leuer was only stretching his credibility at the three-point line.
Leuer had shot 38.2 percent from three in Phoenix the previous season earning him a four year, $41 million contract from the Pistons that summer. Unfortunately in a bigger role with Detroit he couldn’t find the range and shot just 29.3 percent from three on a team that was desperate for someone, anyone to help spread the floor.
Detroit Free Press’ Vince Ellis didn’t hold back in his opening statement about the Pistons’ players after the season and only gives Leuer a 50 percent chance of being back with the Pistons next year.
Trade center Andre Drummond!
Get rid of that bum point guard Reggie Jackson!
Jon Leuer is a bust!
Stanley Johnson was a mistake!
The word: (Leuer) Went from a great signing to an awful signing in the same season. Probably played over his head the first 50 games but probably is better than he showed the last 30. An obvious replacement (Ellenson) is on the roster.
The Drummond and Jackson comments were undoubtedly for effect, but if things don’t change, the effect could become reality at the trade deadline. Teams don’t usually give up on Lottery Picks on modest contracts like Johnson easily, but Leuer’s contract isn’t scary, even if his history and recent run with Detroit says he’s best suited to coming off the bench.
If the Pistons want to move Leuer, the Raptors might be the team who’ll take a chance on him…. if Van Gundy wants what the Raptors will be selling.
It’s expected Toronto will lose backup stretch four Patrick Patterson to free agency. If Ujiri gets his way and Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker all re-sign, the Luxury Tax bill to keep Patterson could set new NBA records if something doesn’t give.
Ujiri will be motivated to move a veteran piece from his 50-win roster and one available piece is almost certainly starter DeMarre Carroll.
Carroll is a 31-year-old veteran who’s been to the Conference Finals twice in the last three years on teams averaging over 55 wins. He’s shot 39 percent or better from three in two of the past three years and last season’s “slump” to 34.1 percent would have tied him with Marcus Morris at 1.5 made threes per game as second best on the Pistons.
The issue with Carroll has been injuries. Specifically an undiagnosed knee problem that required surgery early in the 2015-16 season and only became fully rehabbed midway thru last year. In theory at least, Carroll is back to 100 percent healthy now.
His $30.2 million remaining over the next two seasons on his contract is almost identical to what the Pistons owe Leuer over the next three years and can probably be made to work in a straight up trade.
If in the unlikely event Van Gundy is truly disheartened by Johnson, Ujiri would almost certainly give up his first round draft pick to get him.
The Raptors would have some immediate interest in a deal of Carroll for Leuer based on the Luxury Tax savings alone, but the clincher likely would come down to Tucker’s assessment of his former Suns teammate.
Leuer had the best season of his career the year he played with Tucker. If he could recreate something similar to 2015-16 for the Raptors off the bench, Ujiri would be pretty happy with the move.
At the least Carroll is a proven veteran from a winning program who is good with young players. At his best, he’s a very effective “3-and D” combo forward who can guard multiple positions on the perimeter and can play in a variety of lineups. He could be the guy who helps get Detroit back into the playoff picture.
Neither the Pistons nor the Raptors can expect to hit a homerun with the players they are likely willing to part with this summer, but this is the type of trade that could help both teams (or neither team) and is worth the risk.