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The Detroit Pistons have been adamant that they aren’t bottoming out their roster, despite the team sitting at the bottom of the NBA’s standings. Detroit has been termed as an opportunistic buyer, and that seemingly led the Pistons to a trade with the Utah Jazz.

Here are the particulars:

Detroit Pistons acquire: Simone Fontecchio

Utah Jazz acquire: Kevin Knox, 2024 second-round pick (more favorable of Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards), draft rights to Gabriele Procida

Let’s dive in!

Detroit Pistons

Incoming salary: $3.0 million in 2023-24

  • Simone Fontecchio (SF, one year, $3.0 million, restricted free agent in 2024)

Outgoing salary: $1.8 million in 2023-24

  • Kevin Knox (SF/PF, one year, $1.8 million)

The Pistons have been sending signals for weeks, if not months, that they have no intention of staying a bad team. They aren’t in fire-sale mode with their veterans. They’ve pursued players who are on long-term contracts, or under team control, over the past few weeks. Hence: the Zach LaVine rumors.

In Fontecchio, Detroit gets to make a fairly minimal investment to get a player who could really help them now, and moving forward.

Fontecchio has good size for the small forward position. He’s a good shooter and a capable ball-mover. Fontecchio isn’t a great halfcourt scorer, but he’s capable of attacking a closeout or making a move in transition to create a shot.

On defense, Fontecchio is competitive. He’s not going to shut down opposing wings, but he knows how to work within a scheme to shade his man toward help. He’s got pretty good hands, which help him get rebounds and deflections.

Contractually, Detroit will have a pretty immediate decision to make on Fontecchio. They’ll have him for 30ish games before Fontecchio is eligible for restricted free agency this summer. Even though he’s 28 years old, Fontecchio has only been in the NBA for two seasons. Most players with three or fewer years of service are eligible for restricted free agency.

In order to make Fontecchio a restricted free agent, the Pistons will have to tender him a qualifying offer worth $3.8 million. Doing that will allow Detroit to match any offer sheets that Fontecchio might sign as a restricted free agent. It will come at the cost of about $3.9 million in cap space, as that’s the cap hold that will land on Detroit’s books.

Even with Fontecchio’s cap hold on the books, the Pistons project to have an NBA-high $46.6 million in cap space come July.

This trade also opens up Detroit to potentially listen to trade offers for Bojan Bogdanovic or Alec Burks. Fontecchio overlaps positionally with both players. The Pistons could keep all three guys and move into next season with a solid veteran wing group around a lot of young players. Or Detroit could explore moving either Bogdanovic or Burks with Fontecchio in the fold as a replacement.

Knox had played well for Detroit this year, after being signed a few weeks into the season. He’s a replacement level guy though, and he wasn’t assured of having a long-term future with the Pistons.

The draft pick the Pistons are giving up is perhaps a bit steep. However, it’s unlikely Detroit would have drafted a player better than Fontecchio, even with an early second-round pick. And the Pistons are clearly done with building around more young players. They want to add veterans around their youthful core.

The draft rights to Procida are nothing to sneeze at either. We’ll cover him more in the Jazz section. But, like we said above with the draft pick, there isn’t a lot of room to add even more kids to the Pistons roster.

Utah Jazz

Incoming salary: $1.8 million in 2023-24

  • Kevin Knox (SF/PF, one year, $1.8 million)

Outgoing salary: $3.0 million in 2023-24

  • Simone Fontecchio (SF, one year, $3.0 million, restricted free agent in 2024)
  • The Jazz will likely bring Kevin Knox in via the Minimum Exception. That will allow Utah to create a $3 million traded player exception for Simone Fontecchio.
  • All signs pointed to the Jazz making at least one trade, if not a few, before Thursday’s deadline. Utah did something similar last season, while sitting in a similar spot in the standings. Danny Ainge will not allow the allure of the Play-In Tournament to seduce him. If he feels there is a good deal to be made, Ainge will make it.

That said, this seems like pretty value for Utah.

Fontecchio has played well, and he’s started for most of the season at small forward for the Jazz. But Utah needs to free up some playing time for younger players, namely 2023 lottery pick Taylor Hendricks. Hendricks has flashed in limited NBA moments, but he’s looked pretty good in the G League. He’s ready to take on a rotation role, either for the rest of this season or at the start of next season.

It’s next season that this was about for Utah as much as it was about any kind of 2024 postseason push.

The Jazz have a chance to create over $40 million in cap space next summer. Trading Fontecchio removes the question of whether or not to tender him a qualifying offer. Now, Utah can move forward with maximizing cap space without Fontecchio’s fate hanging over them.

Adding a high second-round pick is pretty good value. Ainge can add it to his stash of picks and use it as currency in a move that’s to come down the line. At worst, Utah will draft a cost-controlled young player to backfill free agents that move off the roster this offseason.

Adding Gabriele Procida is a smart, no-cost, upside play for the Jazz. The 6-foot-6 wing has good size for his position. Procida has also taken a path somewhat similar to Fontecchio’s. He started his professional career in his native Italy, before moving to ALBA Berlin in Germany. That’s the same move Fontecchio made, before spending a season in Spain ahead of moving to the NBA.

Procida played mostly as a reserve in Italy’s top league. He showed off a nice outside shot, as well as capable defense. In Germany, the 21-year-old has continued his development. Procida hasn’t shot it as well, but he’s been a solid enough defender. ALBA Berlin has struggled in the EuroLeague this season, but they remain one of the better clubs in the German Bundesliga. That means Procida is getting high-level experience at a young age.

Only time will tell if Kevin Knox sticks on the Jazz roster. Utah can keep him for depth purposes for now, as they see how things develop through both the trade deadline and during buyout season.

Don’t be surprised if the Jazz aren’t quite done tweaking their roster. Ainge will keep working as he looks to add talent to solid foundation built around Lauri Markkanen (who will like renegotiate-and-extend his contract this summer) and a promising core of young players. But veterans like Kelly Olynyk, Jordan Clarkson, Kris Dunn and Talen Horton-Tucker, and possibly John Collins and Collin Sexton, have drawn trade interest. It wouldn’t be a shock to see a couple more rotation players on the move from Utah before Thursday’s deadline.