The Pistons have too many centers.
Andre Drummond starts, and Aron Baynes backs him up. That leaves Boban Marjanovic out of the rotation and stretch big Jon Leuer playing forward almost exclusively, even though he could handle some center matchups.
So, Detroit might be trying to clear the logjam.
Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders:
The Detroit Pistons are exploring the trade market on centers Aron Baynes and Boban Marjanovic, league sources told Basketball Insiders.
Baynes has a $6.5 million player option after this season, which he will decline, league sources told Basketball Insiders.
Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy has said the Pistons signed Marjanovic, in part, because they believed Baynes would opt next summer and become unaffordable. To re-sign Baynes to a starting salary of more than $11,375,000 (the Early Bird exception), Detroit would need cap space. Barring a major move, the Pistons will operate above the cap next offseason.
Marjanovic hasn’t played much this season. Is everything still going to plan, with Marjanovic supplanting Baynes next season? If so, don’t expect Detroit to move Marjanvoic unless another team offers a surprisingly large return. Considering the Pistons provided Marjanovic with his best contract offer last summer and he hasn’t done anything notable since, it’s unlikely any team values Marjanovic more than Detroit does.
If Marjanovic is still on course to move into the rotation, why not fast-track the process? Downgrading from Baynes to Marjanovic* this season becomes more palatable if the Pistons — who are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position at 21-27 — slip further in postseason race. Or if another team offers value before Detroit loses Baynes anyway. Or if another team offers help on the wing, where the Pistons have less depth.
*Clearly, based on the minutes allocation, Detroit feels this way.
The Pistons also have rookie Henry Ellenson, who has shown flashes in limited minutes and could be a center long-term. Detroit could emphasize his development if it heads toward the lottery.
The Pistons still have time before the trade deadline to better understand where they stand, but now is the time to line up options. Remember, considering their coach runs the front office, they’ll likely err toward prioritizing the present over the future.