Heading into the NBA offseason, one of the biggest questions surrounding the Detroit Pistons was what the team would do with all its cap space.
Detroit entered the offseason with the most salary cap room of any team in the league. For a spell, Detroit had been linked to all three of Jalen Brunson, Deandre Ayton and Miles Bridges. However, those rumors faded as quickly as they started. Instead of using that cap space on free agents, Pistons’ GM Troy Weaver has been working his magic on the trade block.
Late Tuesday night ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, Weaver pulled the trigger on a trade with the New York Knicks. Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel are on their way to the Motor City from the Big Apple. In addition to Noel and Burks, Detroit also acquired two future second-round picks and cash considerations. The Pistons are not sending any players back in the deal.
The Knicks are trading center Nerlens Noel and guard Alec Burks to the Pistons, sources tell ESPN. The Knicks will unload $19M more in salary, clearing the way for cap space to try and sign free agent guard Jalen Brunson.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2022
This is Weaver’s second trade with the Knicks this offseason. The first occurred on draft night when the Pistons acquired Jalen Duren from New York in exchange for a 2025 first-rounder. Detroit is also eating the rest of Kemba Walker’s contract as part of the trade.
New York is dumping salary to free up cap space to sign Brunson to a lucrative contract at the start of free agency. In this recent trade, Detroit has accumulated draft capital and two contributing players on not unfriendly contracts.
Nerlens Noel reunites with Troy Weaver
Noel spent two seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder while Weaver was part of their front office. Coincidentally, both men left the organization in the same offseason.
Noel is a respectable backup big man. He is a solid shot blocker and rim protector, and he is just one season removed from posting 3.6 defensive win shares. He does not offer much on the offensive end of the court, but he can make the easy bucket when it is presented to him.
This is all under the assumption Noel can stay healthy. The big man has an injury history that has hindered his career trajectory.
Assuming the Pistons retain Marvin Bagley III, they are currently set up to enter next season with five players able to play the center spot. Another trade could be in the works to move Kelly Olynyk’s contract.
Alec Burks adds guard depth
Burks is a good veteran guard. He is capable of playing in both on-ball and off-ball roles. New York liked to play Burks as the point guard, but with the Pistons he could find himself shifting to a two-guard role.
The 30-year-old improves a Pistons team that ranked 29th in three-point shooting percentage this past season. Burks shot 40.4 percent from beyond the arc last season.
Burks can slot into the starting lineup if rookie Jaden Ivey is not yet ready to assume that role in Detroit’s lineup. Otherwise, the veteran can come off the bench alongside Killian Hayes.
The Pistons are set up to have ample cap space next offseason
Both Burks and Noel are on two-year deals with team options on the second year. Assuming Detroit declines both players’ team options, the team could enter next offseason with upwards of $30 million to spend in free agency. Along with Noel’s and Burks’ contract, Cory Joseph’s and Hamidou Diallo’s money would also be off the books next season.
This trade sets the Pistons up to be players in next year’s offseason, where the free agency pool is projected to be much deeper.
(Featured Image Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sport)
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