Stan Van Gundy has wanted to put together an athletic “four-out” Pistons team — Andre Drummond dominating the paint and four athletic guys who can shoot the rock and defend on the wings.
He got a whole lot closer to that ideal with a deadline trade with Orlando that should help both teams. It was broken by Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops.com and the Associated Press (and since confirmed by the teams).
I love this move for Detroit — it may help them make the playoffs this season, but even if it doesn’t it helps them become a dangerous team down the line. It’s a good one for the Magic, too, as Scott Skiles gets guys he trusts while opening the door for more Aaron Gordon minutes.
The Pistons can start Reggie Jackson at the point, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tobias Harris, and Stanley Johnson at the two, three, and four, allowing them to switch almost anything on defense, plus get out and run some in transition. Harris’ scoring is down (13.7 points per game this season) and he is struggling from three (31.1 percent) but shot better last season (36.4 percent). I am in the camp that part of his regression was he just didn’t fit or feel comfortable in Skiles offense, that given better spacing and a chance to attack gaps in a defense he can return to form. To be fair, not everyone sees it that way, plenty think Harris played over his head in a contract year — he signed a four-year, $64 million contract extension last summer — and that he isn’t that good. We shall see, but I believe Harris is a great fit in SVG’s system.
More than that, I think that as this young Pistons core grows together over the next few seasons, they become very dangerous and very interesting. This was like a July free agent move (because of Harris’ contract) at the deadline. They still have depth and other questions to answer down the line, but this team has the potential to be scary.
For Orlando, this is a trade that frees up a lot of money — Brandon Jennings is a free agent this summer and only $400,000 of Ersan Ilyasova‘s contract is guaranteed. Skiles coached both of those players in Milwaukee, and the pair can stabilize the Magic bench while Skiles plays Elfrid Payton (they are not sold he is the future at the point, Jennings could win the spot), Gordon, and other young players heavy developmental minutes. It’s a solid trade for Orlando with an eye to the future.