DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs fell to 7-14 on the season after a 132-98 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. With San Antonio’s hopes of making the playoffs slipping away, the chances of the Spurs trading DeRozan are rising — and the Pistons are one of the teams that make the most sense as a potential trade destination.
While the rumors surrounding the Spurs and the Heat making a deal have swirled in the last couple weeks, in many ways Detroit is a more natural and easier fit if and when San Antonio is ready to trade DeRozan.
Why DeMar DeRozan to the Pistons Makes Sense
First of all, the teams that are likely to be most interested in DeRozan will be Eastern Conference squads who need one more piece to make the playoffs. That description fits the Pistons perfectly, as they are currently 9th in the East, 1.5 games out of the final playoff spot.
DeRozan is most valuable to a team that needs a perimeter playmaker. That description, again, fits the Pistons. While they have a pair of talented bigs in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, plus a knock-down shooter in Luke Kennard, they don’t have another starter who can consistently make plays for himself and others.
The Pistons are also built as a win-now team. Griffin and Markieff Morris are 30 years old, while super sub Derrick Rose is 31 years old. DeRozan, 30, fits on that same timeline for Detroit.
Also, the Pistons are coached by Dwane Casey, DeRozan’s coach when he was with the Toronto Raptors. Casey doesn’t hide the fact that he likes DeRozan — and DeRozan has also shared his admiration for Casey.
And compared to the Heat, the Pistons have easier-to-absorb contracts and they have more future draft picks that are eligible to be included in trades.
What the Spurs Would Want from the Pistons in a DeMar DeRozan Trade
The one Pistons player that needs to be included in a DeRozan swap is Reggie Jackson. Detroit’s point guard has missed all but two games this season with a back injury. The latest news is that he will be reevaluated in two weeks but his return isn’t imminent.
Jackson wouldn’t be a player the Spurs covet but his expiring contract worth $18 million is needed to make the money work in a DeRozan trade. It’s possible to do a deal without Jackson — but it’d be much more difficult.
As a sweetener in order to part with DeRozan, the Spurs will likely either want a first round pick from the Pistons or 18-year-old Sekou Doumbouya, the 15th overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft. It’s difficult to know whether the Spurs would value a first rounder or Doumbouya more but it’s likely that the Pistons would rather give up a first. Doumbouya is an exciting combo forward prospect who has shown some good things in the G League already.
If a first rounder is agreed upon as the compensation, the deal will likely either be DeRozan and Marco Belinelli for Jackson, Tony Snell and a first round pick. Or, if the Spurs would rather avoid Snell’s 2020-21 player option of $12 million, the deal would be DeRozan and Chimezie Metu for Jackson, Langston Galloway (expiring contract) and a first round pick.
If the Spurs ask for Doumbouya, that would likely make it a six player deal: DeRozan, Belinelli and Metu for Jackson, Galloway and Doumbouya. If the Pistons want the Spurs to eat Snell’s salary in order to get Doumbouya, the deal also works with Snell replacing Galloway.
Will a Trade Between the Spurs and Pistons Happen?
It’s possible. If the Pistons really want to make the playoffs in the East, going after DeRozan makes a whole lot of sense for them. As for the Spurs, the Pistons have the pieces and the assets that make a DeRozan trade not only possible, but palatable.