Ahead of this months’ trading deadline there was a wealth of rumors around which players the Lakers might make a play for in order to firm up their chances at the West’s No. 1 seed and an NBA championship. One player stood out as their top option, though: Pistons point guard Derrick Rose.
In the end, the Lakers did nothing at the trade deadline and talks around Rose fell flat. Despite a far-out rumor that the Lakers, not the Pistons, had turned down an offer that would center around Alex Caruso going back to Detroit, it was always pretty clear that the choice of whether to trade Rose lay with the Pistons.
Rose, who signed a two-year, $15 million contract in the offseason with the Pistons, had never given the team an indication that he wanted to be traded and without that, Detroit was inclined to keep him in place. Former NBA agent Arn Tellem, who was Rose’s agent when he came into the league, is in the Pistons’ front office now and was especially sensitive to Rose’s desires to stay.
Coach Dwane Casey has also been impressed with Rose’s professionalism and performance in what has been a lost season in Detroit.
That also means, naturally, that the Pistons are not looking to buy him out before March 1, the deadline for players to be waived and be eligible for the playoffs with another team.
As ESPN analyst Brian Windhorst reported, according to RealGM.com, “From what I understand, when the Lakers called the Pistons and expressed an interest in trading for Derrick Rose, the Pistons said ‘Hey, we appreciate you calling, but we’re not trading him. Dwane Casey likes him. We think he’s going to be important for us next year.’ He just wasn’t available.”
Rebuilding Pistons Have Tough Decisions
There is some question as to whether the Pistons will hang on to Rose for next season, though. He has been the team’s most reliable player all year, averaging 18.0 points and 5.7 assists, shooting 48.6 percent from the field.
But Detroit is in the midst of a tear-down of its roster. The team traded away star center Andre Drummond at the deadline and gave contract buyouts to Reggie Jackson and Markieff Morris, who signed on with the Clippers and Lakers, respectively.
The team is trying to give rookie Sekou Doumbouya a more featured role, but he clearly has not been ready for starting duty. After a nice initial stretch in the starting five, Doumbouya struggled badly and has been in and out of the lineup since. In his last 16 games, he has averaged 5.6 points on 29.1 percent shooting.
Doumbouya’s slump is an indication of how deep the team’s rebuild will have to go. Christian Wood, Luke Kennard, Svi Mykhailiuk, Thon Maker—that’s about it for young assets on this team. Trading Rose, who is 31, this offseason gives the Pistons a chance to collect a draft pick or two and give the rebuilding process an added nudge.
Trade for Rose Possible Next Summer
Maybe, then, the Lakers could revisit the possibility of trading for Rose in the summer. He would be an ideal fit for a team in need of a starting-quality point guard to come off the bench, as too much has been asked of LeBron James at the position.
Rajon Rondo has a player option for next season. He just turned 34, though, and his offensive struggles have limited his usefulness this season.
The Lakers lack draft assets to trade and since they owe next year’s pick to the Pelicans, they were not allowed under NBA rules to trade away their 2020 pick. What they can do, though, is pre-arrange to make a pick for the Pistons at the June draft and send the drafted player to Detroit as part of a package for Rose.
Either way, it won’t matter as far as this season goes. Rose wanted to stay in Detroit and the Pistons were happy to keep him when the Lakers (and other teams) came calling.
Maybe next time.