Pistons Expected To Pursue Deandre Ayton

After agreeing to send Jerami Grant to the Trail Blazers, the Pistons will target Suns center Deandre Ayton in free agency, sources tell James L. Edwards of The Athletic. Ayton will be a restricted free agent, so Phoenix can match any offer he receives, but there’s speculation that he might be on the move because of his desire for a max contract and a reported confrontation with coach Monty Williams in the playoffs.

Detroit will head into the free agent market with roughly $43MM in cap space once the Grant trade is finalized. Edwards says the Pistons may use it to explore trade opportunities if Ayton either re-signs with the Suns or is traded elsewhere. He adds that general manager Troy Weaver won’t feel pressured to go through it all during the offseason. The organization may save some room to take on unwanted contracts and acquire draft assets.

With their obligations to Blake Griffin finally over, the Pistons have cap flexibility for the first time in several years, Edwards notes. They want to build an exciting, competitive team around Cade Cunningham and they hope Ayton will be part of that group.

There’s more on the Grant trade:

  • The deal with Portland is the best offer the Pistons received for Grant, according to Edwards’ sources. He adds that potential trades were discussed with other teams, dating back to the deadline in February, but no formal offers provided a better return than the package of draft picks from the Blazers.
  • Trading their starting power forward may indicate that the Pistons are focused on Keegan Murray with the fifth pick in Thursday’s draft, but Edwards cautions that it’s not a foregone conclusion. Jaden Ivey will also be considered if he’s available, along with Bennedict Mathurin. Edwards also points out that Isaiah Stewart  or Saddiq Bey could replace Grant, allowing the team to concentrate on other positions in the draft. With their new-found cap space, Edwards suggests that the Pistons might try to acquire a pick late in the lottery if a big man like Jalen Duren is still available.
  • Damian Lillard‘s agent, Aaron Goodwin, endorsed the trade, tweets Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. He said it shows “the Blazers are competing.”
  • Zach Harper of The Athletic gives the Trail Blazers a B and the Pistons a C-plus in his grades for the deal. He notes that Grant was extremely productive during his two seasons in Detroit and provides Portland with a path toward quickly returning to contender status. Harper adds that the trade makes sense for the Pistons’ rebuilding effort, although it’s a long time to wait for Milwaukee’s first-round pick in 2025.

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