Pistons going opposite direction from Wizards

Pistons going opposite direction from Wizards
May 21, 2014, 11:30 am
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Not too long ago, the Wizards were the symbol of bad luck in the NBA when it came to the draft lottery because of Jan Vesely. That title probably has to be transferred to their Eastern Conference rival Detroit Pistons, who were supposed be building themselves back into a contender but won't even have a botched pick to show for it.

Detroit lost its pick in the Tuesday's draft lottery to the Charlotte Hornets. 

Vince Goodwill of the Detroit News explains what transpired:

"When the Charlotte Hornets’ logo was pulled from NBA deputy Mark Tatum’s hands, payment on the money-saving Ben Gordon for Corey Maggette trade in 2012 fully came to fruition, as the Pistons were vulnerable to losing their top-eight protected draft pick this season.

"When they didn’t use the amnesty clause on Gordon to get from under his $25 million deal, whether it was management’s call to make the deal or Pistons’ owner Tom Gores’, it set the wheels in motion for something disastrous to happen.

"It saved the Pistons $14 million on the front end, but could have caused them a valuable player for the foreseeable future, as (Stan) Van Gundy’s first act as an executive won’t be introducing a ready-made 20-year-old to build around."

So by dropping to ninth in the lottery in a deep draft, the Pistons' pick automatically went to the Hornets.

The Wizards shouldn't have much to worry about with the Pistons, who finished this season 29-53 and finished 11th. They used money saved in the Gordon-Maggette exchange to land Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings as free agents last summer, and that hasn't exactly worked out.

Detroit picks 38th overall in the second round, eight spots ahead of the Wizards who don't have a first-round pick, either. The Wizards had a top-12 protected pick but made the playoffs for the first time in six years. Their 18th pick goes to the Phoenix Suns in return for center Marcin Gortat, who was acquired before the 2013-14 season to replace Emeka Okafor.

If the Wizards can retain Gortat as a free agent -- and they expect to -- their move was a major success. Even if Gortat leaves, that still opens his salary slot. The Pistons? Expect them to finish near the bottom of the East again and not to be a problem as they're currently constructed.