To everyone who has said that allowing one person to act as both coach and general manager of an organization is impractical, Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons are out to prove you wrong. After swinging a deal to bring Tobias Harris into town for Ersan Ilyasova and upcoming free agent Brandon Jennings, Detroit has pulled off another slick move:
Motiejunas hasn’t played much this season, but he does fit the mold of the type Detroit is coveting this deadline. He’s a young, skilled big man who can shoot.
He’s played in a mere 14 games so far this season due to back issues, but Motiejunas is just 25 years old, and considering how little Detroit had to give up to receive him, it seemed like a no-brainer deal for the Pistons. Of course, we can’t say that firmly until we know the protection on that first-round pick.
The fourth-year Motiejunas will be a restricted free agent come this offseason, but considering his injured back that’s cost him most of this season, it’s hard to imagine he’ll garner a ton of money on the open market. He averaged 12.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game starting at power forward for a No. 2-seed Rockets team last season.
Detroit now has seven members of its core who are all 26 years old or younger: Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson and Motiejunas. The 27-27 Pistons, who currently hold the No. 9 seed in the East, are clearly trying to make a push for the postseason, but they’re also prioritizing the future. It’s a nice mesh of philosophies.
As for the Rockets, who sit at a disappointing 27-28, it seems as if they’re just unloading some overloaded cargo for a pick. Considering the injury problems Motiejunas has been plagued with this season, and considering the Rockets already have Clint Capela, Terrence Jones and Dwight Howard (pending), this is an understandable deal form both sides, even if it is believable (but probably not provable) that Houston could’ve gotten more for Motiejunas.