The Detroit Pistons tinkered with their roster in front of the trade deadline in an effort to get under the luxury tax and maintain some flexibility moving forward while still competing for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The New York Knicks, who visit the Pistons on Friday in the second half of a home-and-home set, made their moves a week before the deadline and clearly have their sights set on 2019-20 and beyond.
Detroit is sitting in the No. 9 spot in the East and traded away a pair of rotation players by sending shooting guard Reggie Bullock to the Los Angeles Lakers and small forward Stanley Johnson to the Milwaukee Bucks in separate trades on Wednesday. Bullock scored 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting in 36 minutes and Johnson added three points in 26 minutes off the bench as the Pistons earned a 105-92 win at New York on Tuesday. The Knicks made their big move last week by sending Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks for a package that included second-year point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who scored 25 points in Tuesday's setback. New York is mired in a 14-game losing streak and dropped 27 of its last 29 contests while tumbling to the worst record in the NBA.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG (New York), FS Detroit LINE: Pistons -8.5
ABOUT THE KNICKS (10-43): Smith is trying to make himself a centerpiece of New York's rebuild and impressed his coaches and teammates with his performance on Tuesday. "He took total command of the team tonight," Knicks coach David Fizdale told reporters of Smith. "It was really fun to watch. I didn't have to call every play. He was really directing traffic out there while staying aggressive for himself. I think the more he gets comfortable with his teammates and they understand who he is, the better and better he's going to get." Smith, 21, and small forward Kevin Knox, 19, give the team a pair of solid young pieces to go with a presumed top draft pick and plenty of salary cap space going into the summer.
ABOUT THE PISTONS (24-29): Detroit landed rookie shooting guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Bullock and acquired center Thon Maker from the Bucks in exchange for Johnson. Maker gives the team a different look in the frontcourt behind Andre Drummond as a 7-1 shot blocker who can also step out and score on the perimeter. Drummond collected 17 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks in Tuesday's win and is rolling along with a double-double in each of his last six games.
1. The Knicks waived C Enes Kanter and SG Wesley Matthews after the trade deadline.
2. Pistons All-Star PF Blake Griffin scored 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting in Tuesday's triumph.
3. Detroit took the last five in the series, including the first two meetings of 2018-19.
PREDICTION: Pistons 109, Knicks 105 Bet Now
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