Exploring the Pistons-Wizards trade

Plus: A quick look at today's slate of games

Welcome back to A Farewell to Takes, our quick trip around the NBA and WNBA. Anfernee Simons stopped by the studio for last week’s episode of The Old Man and the Three, and Tommy and I had a great conversation with the young, up-and-coming star. Today’s episode of The Old Man and the Three Things with Nekias and Steve will be up shortly.

On this week’s A Farewell to Takes:

  • Nekias Duncan of The Dunker Spot explores the Pistons-Wizards trades

  • Steve Jones Jr. of The Dunker Spot shares a preview of the MLK Day games

Thanks for reading and listening! —JJ

Exploring the Pistons-Wizards trade

For an MLK Day slate full of fun matchups — even if the majority of them feature at least one team playing the second half of a back-to-back, but I'll rant on another day — it's equal parts fitting and absurd that my eyes have gravitated towards the Pistons-Wizards game at 3pm ET. It's a battle of teams with a combined 10-67 record, with both ranking in the bottom six in offensive and defensive rating this season.

And yet, I'm intrigued by what this game will look like. In a literal sense, I have no clue which version of these teams will show up. They just agreed to a trade over the weekend; Marvin Bagley, Isaiah Livers, and a pair of (conditional) second round picks are heading to Washington while the Pistons get a pair of veterans (Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala) on expiring contracts.

It was a clear money move for the Pistons. By attaching picks to rid themselves of Bagley's contract ($12.5M this year, $12.5M next year), they were able to clear their books a bit. Now, per Keith Smith of Spotrac, the Pistons can generate between $50-66M in cap space this offseason to make some splashes or serve as a dumping ground for unfavorable contracts.

On the court, I wonder what sort of value we'll see on both ends. Bagley has proven to be a productive roll-man in ball screens; the Wizards being able to threaten the rim vertically for 48 minutes between him and Daniel Gafford could be helpful to their offense. Bagley's also been an active threat on the offensive glass, an area the Wizards currently rank 30th in this season.

Livers has shown competency as a 3-and-D-ish forward in his short career, though both sides of that equation have taken a hit this season. After draining 37.8% of his threes through his first two seasons, he's down to 28.6% this year. He hasn't looked the same when moving laterally on the defensive end, and he frankly doesn't have the size or athletic pop to unlock super-small lineups. The hope for the Wizards is that something bounces back for him; either he's able to hold up better defensively, or the shooting turns back around. The latter feels more likely, and could set him up a decent — and by decent, I mean above-the-minimum — payday this summer.

The theory for the Pistons seems clear, if they plan to keep Gallinari and Muscala: get some sizable shooting in the room. Neither Gallinari (31.3% on 2.5 attempts) or Muscala (27.5% on 2.1 attempts) have shot well from deep this season, but both have earned reputations as credible threats from the outside throughout their careers. Pops with Muscala were hidden gems during his Thunder tenure in particular; it wouldn't surprise me if he regained some of that mojo in Detroit. Giving Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey a legitimate spacer and pop option in ball screens should help them quite a bit. Gallinari could provide a similar impact, plus the occasional relief bucket in the mid-post, but he feels more like a buyout candidate than someone that will stick around in Detroit and add to their rotation.

I'd like to see all four players get some action on Monday. But in the event that they don't, I'll still find some fun in Ivey, Ausar Thompson as long as he's allowed to play, Bilal Coulibaly, and others run all over the place. —Nekias

Anfernee Simons stopped by the studio for the latest episode of The Old Man and the Three. The Trailblazers guard talked about learning from Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, going pro out of high school, playing with Shaedon Sharpe and Scoot Henderson, getting schooled by JJ on the court, and more.

YouTube | Wondery+ | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | wherever you listen to your podcasts

A look at today’s slate of games

For the 38th year the NBA will bring its tradition of honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through the game of basketball. The NBA has played a total of 367 games on MLK Day, every year (with the exception of 1998-99, the season did not start until February 5th).

The 11-game slate kicks off at 1pm ET with a matchup between the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers on NBATV, which (hopefully) will give us a matchup of Joel Embiid and Alperen Sengun. What it definitely will give us is a matchup of two of the top defensive teams in the league (Sixers 2nd in DRTG, Rockets 7th).

The Magic (21-18) and Knicks (23-16) face off in the Garden, the Magic have lost 3 in a row without Franz Wagner while the Knicks are at 6-1 with OG Anunoby in the lineup (undefeated at home). If you like defense, this could be the game for you as both units are active, physical and work on that end of the floor.

The Pelicans (24-16) will face the Mavericks (23-17) in a rematch from Saturday where the Pelicans did not have Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson or CJ McCollum on the second night of a back to back and went to Dallas and won anyways. The Pelicans have won 7 of their last 10 games and are 7-1 when Zion, Ingram, and CJ all have 5 or more assists.

The Hawks and Grizzlies will both host home games and have both won 3 straight games on MLK Day. Atlanta will have to deal with Victor Wembanyama who has three straight double doubles, all in 25 minutes or less. Draymond Green returns to the Warriors lineup in Memphis in a scenario where the Warriors find themselves only 4 games better than the Grizzlies. We will see if his blend of defense and playmaking can boost a Warriors group that has been searching for it all season.

(The Pacers and Jazz face off and have both won 8 of their last 10 games. Should be a fun one with what those offenses are capable of doing spacing and tempo wise.)

The Thunder and Lakers face off in the nightcap, and it will be an interesting battle. Not just because of the star power involved, but they both present a unique challenge to each other. The Thunder’s ability to space the floor, drive, kick and cut will keep pressure on the Lakers defense. The Lakers ability and willingness to use their size could naturally slow the tempo down.

Fun fact: there has been at least one triple double on MLK Day for five consecutive seasons. Look no further than Kyle Anderson’s 13 point, 11 rebound, 10 assist triple double last year against the Jazz. We’ll see if that continues. —Steve

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