Earlier today, news broke that Houston had traded Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton to Detroit for Joel Anthony and a top-8 protected 2016 first round pick. Houston then sent Anthony along with Denver’s 2017 second round pick to Philadelphia for the rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum.
The Pistons should have just stopped while they were ahead. After ripping Orlando off in Tuesday’s trade for Tobias Harris, Detroit had long-term starters at all five positions and adding in Motiejunas only creates a logjam in the frontcourt.
Furthermore, Motiejunas is coming off a serious back injury and is a restricted free agent after this season. At that point, after only two months of playing for them, the Pistons will have to decide whether or not to shell out a significant amount of cash to keep Motiejunas around for years to come.
It’s not like Motiejunas is a bad player. The seven-footer is capable of shooting threes, having shot nearly 37% from downtown last season on 1.9 attempts per game. He’s a useful player to have around as he provides flexibility as a stretch big man.
The problem isn’t Motiejunas; it’s the price the Pistons had to pay for him (and also Thornton, who was a throw-in, even though he had some nice moments early in the season).
That first rounder would have been another cheap player to add to their core, but instead, they’ll likely be forced to pay a ton of money to keep Motiejunas in restricted free agency after the season.
It wasn’t an awful idea for Detroit to acquire someone like Motiejunas, but there were certainly cheaper ways to do so.
Sam Hinkie has done it again. Hinkie managed to insert himself into yet another trade, allowing him to acquire his one-hundredth second round pick, an important milestone for him.
Maduabum isn’t an NBA prospect, so the trade is really just Philadelphia taking on Anthony’s salary in return for that second round pick. Even better, the Sixers save about $1.5 million because they’re now over the salary floor thanks to Anthony.
The best thing of all is that Anthony’s $2.5 million salary in 2016-17 is fully unguaranteed, giving Hinkie flexibility that will allow him to make advantageous trades in the offseason.
This deal isn’t important enough to warrant effusive praise for Philadelphia, but it did a good job in using its excess cap space to scoop up extra assets.
This trade was a coup from Daryl Morey. He managed to turn a couple of unused players he was unwilling to pay into a first round pick. Sure, it’s not going to be a high pick, but even a pick in the teens is plenty valuable, especially since the draftee will be on a dirt cheap rookie contract.
The Rockets also managed to escape paying the luxury tax by giving the Sixers a second rounder, saving them millions of dollars.
Foisting a couple of unwanted players onto Detroit and receiving a first round pick and millions of dollars in savings in return is a job well done by Houston.