As the Detroit Pistons faced the Charlotte Hornets on Monday, we saw Kemba Walker and Andre Drummond on the floor together. But could we eventually see these two teams complete a trade that has Walker and Drummond teaming up for Detroit?
Tim Bontemps was one of the first to popularize rumors that Walker could be on his way out of Charlotte (via Washington Post):
“With Charlotte on a fast track to nowhere, it’s hard to see what the compelling case will be for Walker to re-sign with the Hornets when his contract expires after next season — when he could go elsewhere and have a chance to find sustained success for the first time in his NBA career.”
Marc Stein corroborated the speculation, adding that the Hornets will likely be “forced to consider dealing” the 2017 Eastern Conference All-Star.
While some have considered the New York Knicks as a likely destination, it seems another viable franchise would be the Pistons. They are likely in the market for a “high-level” point guard as the NBA trade deadline nears.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski described the Pistons as “one of the most aggressive teams” on the trade market. He reported they are looking for upgrades and moves that will allow them to win now.
His colleague Bobby Marks believes the Hornets would be wise to turn one of their starters “into a package of players” to help salvage their roster. The Pistons would presumably offer wing options like Stanley Johnson or Luke Kennard and injured starter Reggie Jackson in exchange for the 27-year-old point guard.
Charlotte would only have the motivation to pull the trigger on a deal if they saved cap room, however, considering the front office is approaching luxury tax penalties despite a lack of success on the court.
The Pistons would find an immediate use for Walker, who has scored more points as a pick-and-roll ball-handler than any player in the NBA this season except Damian Lillard. As you can see above, he has continued to improve his efficiency on this play type over the past few years.
Their roster is equipped to succeed in the pick-and-roll and their scoring frequency (42.7 percent) is the fourth-best in the league. But only five teams run PnR possessions less often than their offense. Walker can help increase the frequency since he has run the play more often than all but two players in the NBA.
Drummond ranks Top 10 in scoring frequency (57.7 percent) among those with as many as opportunities as the roll man on PnR possessions.
The two former University of Connecticut basketball players joined forces on Team World during the most recent NBA Africa Game. They also share an agent (Jeff Schwartz) at Excel Sports Management.
Walker would be able to play under associate head coach Bob Beyer, who was his assistant with Charlotte from 2013 until 2014. Anthony Tolliver, who plays regular minutes for the Pistons, was one of Walker’s Hornets teammates that season as well.
Charlotte’s star has also raved about Detroit’s Avery Bradley and called him perhaps the “best on-ball defender” in basketball. The two would seemingly pair well in the backcourt for the Pistons.
Don’t be surprised if these rumors continue to heat up as the trade deadline approaches.