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As the NBA’s 3 p.m. trade deadline inched closer and closer, the Pistons were busy taking calls on their prized trade chip, Jerami Grant, and canvassing the league for potential young prospects to add to their “restoration.” Ultimately, the Feb. 10 deadline came and went with Grant remaining in Detroit and the Pistons taking a low-risk, potentially high-reward swing on 2018 No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III.

The addition of Bagley, who comes to Detroit from Sacramento in a four-team deal that saw the Pistons part with Josh Jackson, Trey Lyles and two future second-round picks (the lowest of Cleveland and Golden State in 2023 and a 2024 second-round pick via Sacramento from Portland, per sources), coincides with a common theme since Troy Weaver became general manager of the Pistons in 2020 and Detroit continued its rebuild: Find young players who have struggled elsewhere, and try to reconstruct their careers.

Bagley has yet to live up to the billing of his draft position, but the situation in Sacramento, based on reports over the years, has appeared to be toxic for several seasons. The 6-foot-10 forward has been in and out of the rotation, but has shown glimpses of a versatile scoring punch at various points throughout his career. At 22, Bagley fits the timeline of the Pistons’ rebuild.

The former Duke Blue Devil has been on Detroit’s wish list since Weaver took over the front office, per sources. The Pistons have kept a close eye on the situation between the Kings and Bagley over the last few years, and Detroit and Sacramento have held regular communication, too.

Bagley’s rookie deal expires after this season, and his qualifying offer is a bit nuanced. If Bagley meets starter criteria this season, he’ll have a qualifying offer of, roughly, $14.8 million. If he doesn’t, that qualifying offer is $7.2 million. “Starter criteria” is either 41 games started or 2,000 minutes played this season. Right now, Bagley has started only 17 games and played 656 minutes. So, unless there is an unforeseen injury in Detroit, it’s very unlikely that Bagley will meet the starting criteria, giving him the smaller of the two qualifying offers this offseason.

Per sources, assuming Bagley’s half-season audition with the Pistons goes solidly, Detroit is hoping to hold onto him and sign him to a multiyear deal this offseason.

The Pistons will have to find a way to utilize Bagley in a way that the Kings were unable to. The forward spent a lot of time standing in the corner in Sacramento, despite being a career 70 percent shooter around the basket. So far this season, roughly 61 percent of Bagley’s 3-point attempts have come from the corners, and he’s only converted on 23.7 percent of those attempts. Unlocking Bagley as both a pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop threat would be beneficial to Detroit, as its current roster is absent of anyone who blends the two.

The trade opens up a roster spot for the franchise, which could be used to convert two-way players Chris Smith or Jamorko Pickett or to sign a free agent.

As for Grant, the Pistons were open to offers for their 27-year-old wing, but, in the end, nothing worthwhile materialized. The Trail Blazers, per sources, were the team that showed the strongest interest in the final days. Teams were calling Detroit about Grant all the way up to the final hour (the Pistons were not shopping him, per sources), but no one was willing to put together an offer that made the franchise seriously consider parting ways with Grant. Per sources, Detroit was looking for at least two first-round picks or a player(s) integral to the franchise’s core moving forward.

The Pistons were in no rush to trade Grant, per sources. The franchise likes him, and he likes Detroit. It’s possible that a trade for Grant, who can sign a four-year, $112 million extension this offseason, is revisited this offseason, after the NBA’s landscape is a little more defined and the Pistons have a better idea of where the 2022 NBA Draft takes them.

Detroit is still being patient with its rebuild, a strategy that looks to be suiting the franchise well after years of trying to retool on the fly. No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham appears to be a legitimate piece to build around. Saddiq Bey appears to be a formidable running mate. The likes of Isaiah Stewart, Hamidou Diallo and Frank Jackson are proving to be solid role players. Killian Hayes, the No. 7 overall pick in 2020, is trying to settle into a role as a backup point guard.

The Pistons currently hold the league’s worst record and are staring at another top-three pick if the ping pong balls bounce in their favor once again. Additionally, Detroit will go into this offseason with close to $31 million in cap space, which is currently projected to be the most in the NBA. A turn in strategy could come as soon as next year, as Detroit might be able to put together a roster capable of pushing for the Play-In Tournament. The 2022 free agency class, though, isn’t as star-studded as the 2023 class, so it’s also possible that the Pistons wait to make a splash going into the 2023-24 season and turn a real corner.

As the deadline came and went, Detroit remains in a flexible position. There are many routes the organization can take to find its way back to relevancy. Patience, though, has been the theme since 2020, when the Pistons traded away Andre Drummond for cap filler. And after years of being impatient, it’s certainly worth seeing where this change in direction takes Detroit.

Flexibility is important. The Pistons, finally, are prioritizing it.

(Top photo credit of Marvin Bagley: Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)