In the hours leading up to last Thursday’s trade deadline, the Detroit Pistons traded Andre Drummond to the Cleveland Cavaliers, receiving the expiring contracts of journeymen John Henson and Brandon Knight and a future second-round pick, per Sports Illustrated. As Henson and Knight were mainly acquired for salary relief purposes, the deal leaves the Pistons with a void at center, with the team likely pushing forward with its rebuilding plans heading into the 2020-21 season. These plans may likely include some big moves during the next free agency period, and as a new report suggests, Los Angeles Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell might arguably be the most ideal target for Detroit this summer.
According to Bleacher Report, the Pistons are among the more notable teams that failed to capitalize on the flurry of trades that took place in the lead-up to the Thursday deadline. Aside from parting ways with Drummond and getting “almost nothing” in return, the team also wasn’t able to acquire draft picks or other assets for veteran reserves Derrick Rose and Markieff Morris. This, however, resulted in the Pistons dropping to 29th in total active salaries for the 2020-21 campaign, with the possibility of freeing up even more salary-cap space if Tony Snell and Morris opt out of the final year of their contracts.
Talking about Harrell, Bleacher Report‘s Greg Swartz described the high-scoring Clippers backup as the “best option” that may be available in this summer’s free-agent market. Playing for a team that currently ranks third in the Western Conference with a 37-17 record, Harrell has averaged 18.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks and shooting 57.4 percent from the field. Adding him to the roster could give Detroit a capable center who could play alongside point guard Rose, wing players Luke Kennard and Sekou Doumbouya, and power forward Blake Griffin — assuming the latter gets healthy after an injury-prone 2019-20 season.
A pregame tradition: Montrezl Harrell’s 1-on-1 game against assistant Casey Hill. pic.twitter.com/kl8OHVS2eQ
— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) February 4, 2020
Despite Harrell’s big numbers as the Clippers’ sixth man, Swartz cautioned that it’s possible the Pistons would want a more modern center who could space the floor and shoot from outside, as opposed to Harrell, who, like Drummond, has similar challenges shooting from beyond the arc. Per Basketball-Reference, Harrell has gone 0-for-15 from three-point range this season, mostly doing his damage with his inside game.
In the event the Pistons choose not to sign Harrell, the team could have multiple options that “fit the timeline of a rebuilding team,” Swartz added. New Orleans Pelicans wingman Brandon Ingram, for instance, is enjoying a career-best season for the team, but as the Bleacher Report writer suggested, it’s widely expected that the Pelicans will match any offer for him in free agency, even if it’s a maximum contract. Guards Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raptors) and Malik Beasley (Minnesota Timberwolves) were also suggested as free-agency options for the Pistons, should they choose to shore up their backcourt via free agency instead.