Report: Detroit Pistons were close to trading Killian Hayes before Monty Williams stepped in

Jesse Cinquini
4 Min Read
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons allegedly almost pulled the trigger on a Killian Hayes trade this past summer before the team hired head coach Monty Williams.

“This feels like the unofficial end to Hayes’ time in Detroit, whether it becomes more formal sometime between now and the Feb. 8 trade deadline or this offseason,” James L. Edwards III wrote.

“The writing was on the wall this summer, when the Pistons drafted yet another guard in the first round of the NBA Draft, which was their third time doing so since taking Hayes No. 7 in 2020. They also traded for [Monte] Morris. It is my understanding that Detroit was close to trading Hayes before Williams’ arrival, but the coach, who had been intrigued by Hayes from afar during the first two seasons of the Frenchman’s career, wanted a chance to work with the 6-foot-5, 22-year-old guard. Hayes and the Pistons weren’t close on extension talks earlier this year and, with that, it felt like Williams’ intrigue in Hayes was the last attempt at trying to salvage his time in the Motor City.”

Hayes has long had a reputation as being one of the more inefficient scorers in the NBA, and he hasn’t been able to shake that reputation so far in his fourth season with the Pistons. The 22-year-old is averaging 6.9 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting from the floor, 28.6 percent from 3-point range and 66.0 percent from the free-throw line across 41 appearances with Detroit in the 2023-24 regular season.

But Hayes has been productive from a playmaking standpoint, considering he is averaging 4.8 assists per game compared to just 1.2 turnovers per game. He owns the second-highest assists average of any player on the Pistons’ roster, behind only Cade Cunningham, who is dishing out 7.4 per game in his third NBA season.

Hayes didn’t log a single minute of playing time in Detroit’s seven-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 31 but saw the court against the Oklahoma City Thunder three days earlier and totaled two points, three rebounds and three assists on 1-of-2 shooting from the field.

Arguably Hayes’ best performance of the last couple weeks came against one of the top teams in the Western Conference in the Minnesota Timberwolves back on Jan. 17. In 28 minutes of action, Hayes dropped eight points and eight assists while converting all four of his shots from the field in a game the Pistons lost by just seven points.

The Pistons have been playing surprisingly competitive basketball over the past week or so. The team has won two of its last four games, with its wins coming against the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 24 and Thunder on Jan. 28. Detroit’s win over the Thunder was perhaps the team’s most impressive victory of the two, considering the Thunder own the second-best record in the Western Conference at 33-15.

Despite putting together flashes of great play here and there, Hayes hasn’t lived up to the expectations that are inherent with being a top-10 pick. Thus, Hayes and the Pistons may be better off parting ways in the near future.

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Jesse is an aspiring sports journalist that has previously worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.