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Sometimes, inaction is the best action, and the Detroit Pistons this season are a perfect example.
The Pistons are 14-10 and sit fourth in the Eastern Conference through their first 24 games. Detroit’s fast start may not have happened, though, had the team followed through with trading two of their best players.
Turner Sports analyst David Aldridge reported Monday the Pistons “were shopping” Andre Drummond amid their poor start last year. According to Aldridge, Detroit also tried to offload Reggie Jackson but didn’t receive any significant interest in the veteran point guard.
Being floated in trade rumors isn’t an unfamiliar position for either Drummond or Jackson.
The Washington Post‘s Tim Bontemps reported in July the Pistons had received calls from around the league about Drummond’s availability. In addition to team owner Tom Gores being a fan of Drummond, Detroit didn’t receive any offers that “merited a serious discussion,” according to Bontemps.
Sports Illustrated‘s Jake Fischer also reported shortly thereafter the Pistons were “making and taking calls” about Drummond. Fischer then cast doubt on the 2016 All-Star seeing out the rest of his contract, which has three more years remaining.
Drummond admitted in August he wasn’t immune to the constant swirl of rumors, per the Detroit News‘ Rod Beard:
“I never had to deal with that before; it was tough for my family and me to hear those rumors. Guys who make that much money and not having the year they’re supposed to have, those talks are going to happen. I’ve accepted that. They were looking for a better option. They still have faith in me and believe that I can still carry this team to where we need to get, so I have to get that done.”
While the start of the 2017-18 season largely erased the doubt about Drummond’s short-term future, Jackson was mentioned as a trade piece a little over a month ago.
The New York Times‘ Marc Stein reported in November the Pistons were looking at acquiring Eric Bledsoe, with Jackson going to the Phoenix Suns. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski followed up to report the Suns were trying to include a third team in the trade as a landing spot for Jackson.
The Suns eventually traded Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks.
After Detroit went 37-45 in 2016-17, some Pistons fans were likely for a complete teardown—or at the very least a major shakeup of the current roster. Building the team around Drummond and Jackson appeared to be going nowhere. In particular, Drummond wasn’t showing the kind of improvement some had hoped he would under head coach Stan Van Gundy.
Instead, holding on to Drummond and Jackson has worked out pretty well for the Pistons.
Drummond is averaging 14.1 points, 15.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists, the last two of which are on pace to be career highs. Likewise, Jackson is having his best year since being traded to Detroit during the 2014-15 season. He’s scoring 16.5 points and dishing out 5.6 assists per game and shooting 38.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Of course, trading one or both of the pair may look more enticing down the road should their performances regress to the mean or the Pistons go into a funk before the Feb. 8 trade deadline.
For the time being, it’s hard envisioning either Drummond or Jackson going anywhere with the Pistons on track to reach the playoffs for only the second time in the last nine seasons.