There were a couple of principal truths driving last week’s Richard Hamilton trade rumors involving the Pistons, Cavs and Timberwolves — truths that still hold now that Ricky Rubio plans to join Minnesota next season.
No. 1 is that the Pistons, for a number of obvious reasons, want to unload Hamilton and his $21.5 million in guaranteed money over the next two seasons.
No. 2 is that the T’Wolves don’t seem too excited about picking at, well, No. 2. The main reason for this is that, assuming the Cavs draft Kyrie Irving with the first-overall pick, Derrick Williams is a near-certain bet to be the second pick. The problem for Minnesota is that he’s not really a fit on a roster with Kevin Love and Michael Beasley already entrenched.
Which is where the Pistons and Cavs came in — Cleveland would love to grab both Irving and Williams; Detroit, as already mentioned, wants badly to rid itself of Hamilton’s bulky contract (and probably Ben Gordon’s, too).
How does Rubio impact all of this?
Well, Minnesota doesn’t have any real reason to accept a trade of, say, Detroit’s No. 8 pick, a second-round Detroit pick and Hamilton for the No. 2 selection — especially not when a shooting guard like Monta Ellis may become available in a trade scenario. But if the Cavs take Williams first overall, the Timberwolves now really don’t have any reason to plant at No. 2 and select Irving.
So Rubio’s return just pushes Minnesota even further towards wanting to move that No. 2 pick.
For the Pistons’ sake that could mean that Detroit gets a better return on its investment — remember the reason given for the Pistons’ reported lack of interest in the original three-team trade was that they got literally nothing in return.
With Rubio in the fold in Minnesota, though, it might make one of the team’s other guards — Jonny Flynn or Luke Ridnour, to be specific — available. Neither would be a franchise-changer in the Pistons’ backcourt, but in adding more possible pieces to the puzzle, the appeal of a deal kicks up a couple notches for Detroit.
Let’s just put out the possibility that Detroit can flush Hamilton’s contract to Cleveland and get Flynn or Ridnour — the former being in the last guaranteed year of his contract — to help out at a position that Detroit could use some help at.
Wild speculation? Oh, heck yea. But consider a Ridnour-Rodney Stuckey backcourt with Ben Gordon coming in as the sixth man, as opposed to a Stuckey-Austin Daye backcourt or an ill-fitting Stuckey-Gordon starting duo.
Is that enough for the Pistons to hand Cleveland the No. 8 pick as part of a three-team deal? Maybe not, but it pushes the meter closer to possible.
If nothing else, Rubio’s arrival in Minnesota tosses that No. 2 pick even further up for grabs. That alone has an impact on what the Pistons will wind up doing at No. 8 — depending on who jumps up and where Minnesota jumps down, it could impact how coveted Detroit’s lottery pick is.
Even if it looks different than it did at first, it’s a safe bet that we haven’t heard the last of the Pistons-Cavs-T’Wolves trade talk. Rubio’s long-anticipated jump to the NBA makes a deal more likely than ever.