It’s common practice for a team sitting in the cellar of the NBA’s standings to be aggressive sellers once the trade deadline arrives. We’ve seen it time and time again, year after year. The Pistons, though, might break that mold in 2023; at the very least, they don’t appear overly eager to be big-time sellers.
Detroit, which currently has the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference, is getting a lot of calls about several players, per league sources. Veterans Bojan Bogdanović and Alec Burks are the two names rival teams actively inquire about most, while Saddiq Bey and Nerlens Noel have also garnered interest around the NBA.
Here is everything I’ve learned and gathered as it pertains to these four names and the Feb. 9 trade deadline:
Maybe more than any player in the NBA, the 33-year-old forward has been a hot topic of trade rumors over the last month. It’s easy to understand why. Bogdanović, a career bucket-getter, is in the midst of his best offensive season. He’s averaging a career-best 21.2 points while shooting 41.5 percent from 3, and entering Saturday, Bogdanović had scored at least 20 points in each of his last eight games, tied for the longest such streak of his nine-year career. Teams around the league with — at minimum — playoff aspirations have looked at where Bogdanović is at in this moment of his career and assessed the Pistons’ priorities in an effort to pry away the Croatian forward from the Motor City.
While Detroit has aspirations to be more competitive next season — and Bogdanović would surely help make that happen — the Pistons aren’t opposed to moving him, league sources say. However, they’re not anxiously trying to deal him, either, as they value not only his on-court play but the leadership he’s brought to the young team. Per league sources, the price tag to acquire Bogdanović appears to be, at the very minimum, an unprotected first-round pick. As the trade deadline inches closer, the sense is there is a decent chance Detroit’s front office will get offered the pick it is looking for, which would then prompt the team to seriously weigh the risk and reward of departing with a known quality player for an uncertain asset.
Much like Bogdanović, the 31-year-old Burks, another professional scorer, is in the midst of his best offensive season since entering the NBA. He’s averaging 13.8 points off the bench while shooting a career-best 46 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from 3. Burks’ 44.4 percent clip from 3 ranks him fourth in the entire NBA. Couple his production with a contract that has a favorable $10.4 million team option for next season, and it’s easy to understand why teams have often inquired about his availability.
Of course, every player has a price, but, per league sources, the Pistons have shown very little interest in trading Burks before the deadline. The sense I’m getting is a team would have to vastly overpay for Burks’ services. Detroit would like to keep him going into the summer and for next season when, again, the organization hopes to turn a corner with its rebuild.
The third-year forward has had an up-and-down season and, with that, has been the subject of trade rumors as of late. The interest from rival teams, per league sources, intensified when Bey was moved to the bench in November. Teams have since kept tabs on his availability.
Still, though, I’ve gotten the impression the Pistons aren’t ready to move on from the 23-year-old Bey unless a deal they can’t refuse comes around. What would such an offer entail? I’m not sure, but, per league sources, Detroit has not made it seem like Bey is available for pennies.
In last week’s win over the Timberwolves, the veteran center posted four blocks and three steals in the third quarter, sending a reminder to rival teams he still has the defensive chops that once made him one of the league’s best rim protectors.
The two sides have agreed a deal would be best for both, but that doesn’t mean a trade will manifest before the Feb. 9 deadline. If a deal doesn’t materialize by then, per league sources, Noel, who has a team option for $9.6 million, isn’t looking to accept a buyout. It’s likely the Pistons will just go into the summer with the plan to not pick up Noel’s option or, if they do, use it to accommodate a trade, if one materializes.
Per league sources, the teams most engaged in talks with the Pistons about Noel to date are the Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks.
(Photo of Bojan Bogdanović: Rick Osentoski / USA Today)