I am back in Grand Rapids safe and sound! I'm hella tired and jet-lagged after about 30 hours of traveling, but I'm awake for now so I figured I could at least squeeze in a little post on the Meeks trade real quick.
What was the trade?
The Pistons traded Jodie Meeks to the Magic for a 2019 2nd round pick. The "condition" of the "Conditional pick" (from what I understand at least, correct if I'm wrong) is that they Magic have 2 2nd round picks in 2019 and the Pistons get whatever the lesser one is.
Why did the Pistons make the trade?
Jodie Meeks and his agent asked for it. Obviously the Pistons were fairly likely to at least be listening intently to anyone making any offers that might include Meeks, because he is an expiring who is not a part of the core. Throw in the number of wing players the Pistons have and he was certainly expendable. HOWEVA, allegedly the Pistons were not going to actively move him until he requested it.
Since he did request it though, the Pistons do manage to get at least something back for a guy who likely had pretty low trade value, (even if it is just a 2nd round pick) and open up more cap space, putting the Pistons within easy reaching distance to offer a max contract if they want, or to definitely be able to fill in their 2 main holes of a backup PG and another PF. Essentially the Pistons can take the 6.5 million Meeks will make and put it to a position of more need.
Also of note, the Pistons gave up a 2019 pick in the Marcus Morris/Reggie Bullock trade. So they have essentially recouped that. And since Bullock is the main reason the Pistons feel comfortable trading Meeks, you could almost say that the trade has literally paid for itself. Just something to think about. (Also once again, how insane was that trade lol)
Why Did Meeks Request a Trade?
The depth of wing players on the Pistons was cited as the official reason, but I'm guessing he was probably also not terribly pleased with SVG's handling of his injury last season, as he was literally totally healthy by the end of the year, and SVG decided to just not play him. I don't know how much that weighed in his desire to leave, and I'm certainly not trashing Meeks because everything I have seen/heard of him is that he is a wonderful guy on and off the court. Regardless, at the very least, Meeks' benching down the stretch of last season certainly did not give him confidence of being in the rotation in the coming season.
Upshot for the rest of the roster?
Well, it's time for Bullock and/or Hilliard to shine. Given his play down the stretch of the season last year, this will be Bullock's job to lose. He was nothing short of brilliant with his play, damn near single handedly keeping the bench mob offense afloat and playing perfectly competent defense. If things shake out in a certain way in free agency though then Stanley will be in the mix as well. Once again, barring an unforeseen trade or something, Bullock will be first in line among the 3 (or 4 if you want to count Gbinije), but it will be one of them stepping up. The big news is the cap space of course though, it helps the Pistons quite a bit. Essentially, whoever the Pistons manage to sign with the extra space can be counted into the trade here.
Bullock's play down the stretch of last year wasn't just a fluke and he is absolutely brilliant this season, KCP's shooting/offense improves to less mediocre levels as well so the Pistons don't miss Meek's ability to create offense too much. Even though he isn't in the regular rotation, Hilliard gets a bit more playing time and looks effective in that time as well giving the Pistons solid insurance for if Bullock leaves next offseason. The Pistons effectively use the cap space opened up (however that would end up being effectively used, we will find out within a couple of weeks) and end up using the pick gained to eventually draft a nice player or throw in for another trade.
Bullock had a fluke, he can't shoot on an NBA floor, and Hilliard is not a good replacement, and KCP conitnues to struggle on offense leaving the Pistons in a similar position as last year of having very little offensive punch at the 2 guard spot on their roster. Meeks has a really nice year in Orlando to top it off, and the Pistons don't get the guys they want in free agency with the extra space.
I mean, in the end it doesn't really matter that much, Meeks was an expiring who was probably leaving in a year anyways, and he's been hurt more often than not since his arrival in Detroit. HOWEVA, I do question this at least a little. I find it a bit hard to believe that the Pistons couldn't have gotten something a bit better than a 2nd round pick, but then again, maybe people were generally too spooked by the potential injury stuff, and the Pistons may not have had any interest in taking back any salary anyways. So I guess that if you are going to salary dump someone, I'd rather it be someone like Meeks than someone like Morris or Harris. (lol at the Suns and Magic.) I just kind of feel like Meeks was probably the Pistons best ammo to use to try and swing one last trade of getting a core piece without giving one up, but maybe that was too optimistic, and the Pistons might get that core piece with the cap space so whatever.
The Big question now falls to the 4 young wings who will fight for the minutes Meeks figured to take. Once again, the way Bullock finished last season should give the Pistons all kinds of confidence they will be fine, it cannot be stressed enough how well he played. And if he comes out firing like that next season he will not only lock up the backup SG spot, he will likely even push KCP for minutes. (especially if KCP shoots like crap again.) HOWEVA, even though I am well known as a huge fan of Bullock and his game, we all have to remember that Bullock has been in the NBA for 3 seasons, and has a single 20 game stretch and last preseason where he looked like any sort of a player. And Meeks is a real player when healthy, and if Bullock doesn't play that well (even if he isn't bad, just not as good as he was down the stretch last year) and neither Hilliard or Gbinije have surprise big break outs (I'm assuming Stanley spends most of his time at forward for now) this trade will hurt the Pistons in a very real way. If one of those guys can play really well then it won't.
In the end I mostly like the trade. I wanted them to move Meeks or even Baynes to get above 20 million in cap space, and Meeks was the preferred one. I also think Bullock is actually really good and KCP will steady himself on offense so I don't think Meeks will be all that missed. But that said, I am at least a little bummed that the Pistons didn't manage to use Meeks in another heist of a deal that they have been so good at so far in the current regime.
What do you think? Who will win the backup SG spot? Let me know! We all get smarter!