Pistons acquire Brandon Jennings in sign-and-trade

BY foxsports • July 30, 2013

One Brandon in, one Brandon out.

According to multiple media sources, the Pistons have agreed to trade Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton and Slava Kravtsov to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for point guard Brandon Jennings. As part of the move, Jennings, a free agent, has signed a three-year contract worth $24 million.

The move immediately clarifies Detroit's point-guard position, but leaves other questions hanging over the roster. Unlike Knight, who struggled to pick up the point-guard spot in the NBA, Jennings has played it consistently in his four-year career. Jennings is also a better scorer than Knight, averaging 17 points a game in his career while Knight was at just 13.1. There isn't even a large age difference -- Jennings is 23 to Knight's 21.

The Pistons will go into the season with Jennings set at the starting point-guard position, and he'll be surrounded by a host of possible mentors. New coach Maurice Cheeks was one of the NBA's best point guards in the 1980s and newly acquired Chauncey Billups knows his way around the position as well.

It's not clear, though, how well Jennings' skill set will fit into the lineup that Joe Dumars has assembled. Jennings has always been a shoot-first player -- he had a 55-point game as a rookie -- and his points come from the volume of his shots, certainly not because of a high shooting percentage. He averaged 39.9 percent from the floor last season, thanks to a streaky jump shot, and was one of two players in the league last year to take 15 shots a game and hit under 40 percent.

He's not afraid to take 3-pointers -- he has shot almost six a game in the last two seasons -- but he hits just 35 percent from behind the arc. That's hardly the deadly outside shooter that the Pistons need to clear the spacing issues of playing Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond together.

He'll have to play that role, however, because his ability to get to the rim -- something he does well -- will be compromised by Detroit's unusual three-big alignment. Smith is an enthusiastic outside shooter, but a poor one, while Monroe and Drummond struggle to hit anything outside the lane. That means the guards -- Jennings and one of Billups, Rodney Stuckey or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope -- are going to have to find a way to stretch the floor and prevent defenses from collapsing into the paint against Detroit's halfcourt offense.

If Jennings can adapt his game, the move has the potential to be outstanding for Detroit. He certainly expected to make more than $8 million a season, an amount that he was willing to take from the Pistons when he turned it down to stay with Milwaukee. By getting him for such a low amount, Detroit also maintains the cap space needed to sign Monroe to an extension next summer, especially since they still control the expiring contracts of Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva.

Although Jennings has spent his entire career with the Bucks, he will have one advantage over his new teammates. After high school, Jennings broke new ground by spending a season playing professional basketball in Italy instead of the traditional one-and-done college career. Playing for Lottomatica Roma at the age of 19, he averaged 7.6 points in 16 Euroleague games against top European competition. One of his teammates was 22-year-old Luigi Datome, who has also joined the Pistons during this busy summer. Datome also struggled against teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona, scoring 5.8 points per game. He did hit 34.8 percent of his 3-point shots in the competition, while Jennings was at just 26.8 percent. Jennings' presence should be a bonus for Datome as he tries to adjust to NBA basketball.

There's no question that, by adding Jennings, Smith, Billups and Datome, the Pistons are a much more talented offensive team than the group that has struggled so badly for the past few years. If Cheeks can fit them into a cohesive unit, this could be the playoff team that Tom Gores is demanding. It won't be easy, but it should certainly be entertaining.