Detroit Moving off Cade? – Trade Speculations & Scenarios

Updated: July 13, 2021
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The Detroit Pistons have made it known that they are willing to trade the 1st pick in this year’s draft. It is assumed by most to be used to select the 6’8 dynamic point guard in Cade Cunningham out of Oklahoma State. The Pistons spent last year’s lottery pick on the French point guard Killian Hayes who infamously was #1 on Kevin O’Connor’s draft board from The Ringer. Unfortunately for Detroit, his rookie year was underwhelming, yet if they were willing to take him at 7, one would assume they’re higher on him than most. Considering the hype around Cade, it would be irresponsible for the Pistons not to shop the golden goose that the basketball gods have provided. The question is, how much is the report posturing and how much is it their belief in the future of Killian Hayes?

Across the pods, some do not see the river of distinction between Cade and the other guards projected in the top 5 to be as wide as it has been made out to be. If Detroit is in that camp, regardless of the ceiling they project or hope for in Killian, trading down may be an opportunity they simply can’t resist. It is hard to get a clear read on exactly the route the Pistons are on, since they could’ve easily traded newly acquired forward Jeremy Grant at the deadline but opted not to. There is also no indication from their camp that they intend to move him this offseason even after he has overperformed statistically despite having the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

With OKC and New Orleans locked and loaded with first-rounders and the Warriors holding two lottery picks burning a hole in their pocket, there are 3 available options that one would assume are being mapped out on whiteboards in Detroit.


We are in completely uncharted territories when attempting to assess value in an exchange when incorporating New Orleans and OKC. A number 1 pick has never been traded for a bucket of firsts, but with Zion on the roster, and the question of his prime possibly being now, Detroit’s indecision on Cade may be the opportunity for the Pelicans to pair Williamson with a top tier oversized point guard. It is a semi-win-now move, that may be motivated by the reports of Zion’s camp wanting him out of New Orleans. It would quickly brighten the Pelicans’ future, and hopefully, make them a playoff team moving forward. Instead of just trading for Cade, they add additional capital to acquire Grant allowing them to play an oversized small-ball lineup. In this situation, it would be wise to do everything in their power to retain Lonzo even if it required them to overpay him due to his versatility. Even without a traditional big, their starting lineup would be Cade at 6’8, Lonzo at 6’6, Ingram at 6’9, Zion at a huge 6’6, and Grant at 6’8.


This would be the slow burner route for Detroit and would presumably line them up to retain their lottery pick next year (which is owed to Houston but is heavily protected till 2027). In exchange for Cade and Grant, Detroit would receive the 10th pick in the draft and 5 additional 1st round draft picks moving forward. This decision would be based on their expectations and faith in Killian Hayes and that they have someone they like who is projected to fall to 10 in this year’s draft.


It would be the most expensive move up from 6 to 1 in NBA history. The Thunder would send Detroit the 6th and 16th pick in this year’s draft with an additional pair of firsts for Cade Cunningham. He would be paired with their dynamic and versatile 6’6 guard Shae Gilgeous-Alexander in hopes that this would be their tandem for the future. With SGA still being only 23 years old, and still an excess amount of picks even after sending out the 4 picks in exchange for Cade, there are moves OKC would have available to quickly become a dangerous roster.


With multiple chances in the first round this year and next, the Pistons would have an array of young players to build up their rotation. Presumably, this option would be best suited if they felt the player they project at 6 is a high-quality talent with a high ceiling. It also allows them to make all of their sections this year and next, including their own 2022 lottery pick that would be retained after the tank next season.


This would be an interesting move for Golden State as it dumps all their assets for a young player, however, one who looks far more NBA ready than the one they drafted last year. It is exactly what Warriors pods have asked not to do, which is to play both sides of the fence for the now and the future simultaneously. It is possible though with Cade’s size and the spacing Curry and Klay provide, it could be a match made in heaven. Plumlee would be sent to match salaries and would solidify their rotation at the 5 with Dray, Plumlee, and Looney. The Warriors would have to be quite high on Cade though to make this deal considering a sign and trade with Oubre for Lonzo Ball could presumably be orchestrated for a fraction of the draft capital and is more ready to fill the same role.


With Killian, Wisemen, Saddiq Bey, Isiah Stewart, the 7th, and 14th pick, this may prove to be the most promising long-term route. It only is a viable option if they feel strongly about Wisemen, which it was reported they were prior to the 2020 draft.


All the options are interesting and the execution of them are surrounded on the perception of the hype around Cade Cunningham. There are other deals of moving down to 2, 3, or 4, if they are simply higher on the other top prospects in the draft, however, it would not provide the hall that may be available in the hypothetical deals above. Every transaction is inherently a gamble, and as sure as the floor is on Cade, his ceiling is no more set than anyone else’s. If Detroit was able to get a hall for a single player they have never seen play in the NBA, it is something they should strongly consider.

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