Pistons seen as wild card destination for Trae Young as competing execs say they ‘need to do something’

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

It’s certainly no secret that the Detroit Pistons need to improve their team, and a start to that process might be acquiring star guard Trae Young from the Atlanta Hawks should they look to move him this summer.

“The wild card might be the Detroit Pistons, who ‘Need to do something,’ per multiple competing executives,” wrote Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

The Pistons ended the 2023-24 NBA regular season with the worst record in the league at 14-68, one game behind the Washington Wizards. Detroit’s season included a historic 28-game losing streak that was part of an incredible 4-39 start to the campaign. In fact, the Pistons did not reach 10 wins until early March and have won more than 20 games just once in the past five seasons.

Seemingly any player would be able to help the Pistons, but Young likely would be able to better them more than most who might be available. A three-time All-Star who is a former top-five pick in the NBA draft, he has averaged more than 25 points and nine assists per game in each of the past five seasons, including marks of 25.7 points and a career-high 10.8 assists per game this season.

However, he was limited to a career-low 54 games this regular season, in part because of an injured finger that sidelined him late in the campaign. Atlanta still managed to secure the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference with a 36-46 record and as the No. 10 seed will face the No. 9 seed Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

Just 25 years old, Young recently was linked to the Los Angeles Lakers and may also draw interest from the San Antonio Spurs and Brooklyn Nets should the Hawks actually put him on the market.

Young did help the Hawks make a surprising playoff run to the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, but they have not won a playoff series since then. They will need to defeat the Bulls and then get another play-in victory to get back to the playoffs this season.

That lack of sustained team success and Young having three years and almost $140 million remaining on his contract could convince the Hawks that it is time to part ways. Detroit conceivably could then combine him with former No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham to create one of the most dynamic backcourts in the league.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.