The Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons as trade partners? It has happened before, and could happen again.
The Bulls actually traded Jameer Nelson to the Pistons in 2018, but if the deal The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry and NBC Sports Chicago’s Sam Smith addressed took place, it would be a deal of more significance.
The Pistons won the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery and are expected to use their No. 1 pick on Cade Cunningham. Some have described Cunningham as Ben Simmons with a jump shot, who definitely has lead guard talents.
If that happens, there has been some talk the Pistons might make their lottery pick from 2020 available. Detroit selected Killian Hayes with No. 7 pick in 2020. He had an injury-impacted rookie season with some highs and lows.
That said, coming out of France, the talented lefty point guard won’t turn 20 until July, so there is still a ways to go before we know for sure what he can be. From a pure talent standpoint, Hayes likely still has some fans in several front offices.
Mayberry Suggests Hayes Could Fill a Hole
Mayberry’s piece focuses on what the Bulls can and could do with their offseason considering they won’t have a first-round pick, thanks to the trade for Nikola Vucevic that cost them what turned out to be the No. 8 pick.
Mayberry suggests the Central Division rivals might engage in talks for Hayes if Detroit makes him available.
Perhaps the Bulls can capitalize on the draft order in other creative ways. With Cunningham as the presumptive top pick by the Pistons, would Detroit pick up the phone for Killian Hayes, last year’s seventh overall pick? The Pistons have little reason to assist the Bulls, but Hayes would fill a hole in the backcourt and give Chicago the kind of facilitator it currently lacks.
Smith Doesn’t Sound as Into The Concept
A fan brought up the idea of the Bulls trading Coby White for Hayes to Smith in a mailbag. The veteran and long-time Bulls insider didn’t take to the idea, as he starts his answer off with a downgrade of the young point guard.
He calls it a “risk.” Smith answered:
I actually didn’t care much for Hayes as more of a strong one way shooter as a point guard. I guess you can speculate the Bulls weren’t that interested since they passed, but that could be because they liked Williams more. Cunningham seems more of a point forward type, which still would necessitate having a point guard in the game. Since Dennis Smith, Frank Jackson and Cory Joseph are their others for now, I assume they’d want to get a good look at Hayes because he was injured most of last season and basically didn’t play until April. It is true the Pistons have a lot, lot of young players. But they seem weakest at guard and center. I do think there will be some No. 1 picks available since teams like Orlando and Houston have multiple picks and some veteran teams don’t need more picks, like Golden State with two lottery picks. Plus, New Orleans in the lottery hardly needs another young player. One question for the Bulls, however, and that applies with someone like Hayes, too, is the risk of trying to turn over a veteran team (LaVine and Vucevic) to a 20-year-old point guard. Unless he is transcendent, that generally takes awhile. You generally can’t buy a lottery pick (because teams usually don’t give them up for money), but even if the Bulls could the cap hit would basically take them out of free agency. Assuming, that is, if they are trying to clear cap space to go for one of the name players. Because so many of the name teams are out of the playoffs—yes, it gives everyone hope of saying, if the Atlanta Hawks can be in the conference finals…—there’s likely to be at least plenty of talks about movement. It’s always unclear what will occur, but this is going to be a great offseason for rumors and speculation.
During his rookie season, Hayes averaged just 6.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists. He shot just under 28% from three, but I’m not worried about his long-term accuracy from deep. He made 82% of his free throws, and for a guard, that’s usually a fairly good indication that they can become a good–or at least respectable–long-range shooter.
Hayes did drop 21 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists against the Bulls in May.
The Bulls won the game handedly, but Hayes kept his defenders on skates and looked in command of the offense.
White has accomplished more, but Hayes is a better fit alongside Zach LaVine, and he’s likely just scratching the surface of his talent.
Unfortunately, the Pistons probably know that too, and would be more likely to play Cunningham at the 2 or 3 than to trade Hayes so soon.
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