4 Biggest Detroit Pistons Trades

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Rasheed Wallace during an NBA game against the Washington Wizards in December 2008.
(Wikimedia Commons/Keith Allison)
Anatoly Pimentel @AnatolyPimentel Jul 25, 2023, 5:23 PM
  • Here's a list of the biggest Detroit Pistons trades in franchise history.
  • Bill Laimbeer leads the list of players Detroit received through trade.
  • Other notable players the Pistons acquired were Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, and Blake Griffin.

The Detroit Pistons have been one of the pioneer teams in the NBA since the franchise was founded in 1949. They were based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for their first nine seasons before moving to Detroit in 1957. Since relocating to Detroit, the team has won three NBA titles in 1989, 1990, and 2004. However, in the past decade, they experienced a rebuild and have been finding ways to improve their basketball odds of winning another title.

They have received multiple lottery picks and got involved in trades but recently have not been able to contend. Despite the forgetful campaigns of the franchise in recent years, Detroit managed to pull off big-time trades that changed their fortunes and even helped them win a title. Here’s a look at the top-four biggest trades in Pistons history.

Bill Laimbeer

One of the most notable players that Detroit received via trade was Bill Laimbeer. He was included in a deal with the Cavaliers in February 1982 with Ken Carr for Phil Hubbard, Paul Mokeski, one first-round pick, and one second-round pick. The trade resulted in the duo of Laimbeer and Isiah Thomas, plus the birth of the notorious “Bad Boy Pistons.” The 6-foot-11 center also became the anchor of the team inside the paint.

Laimbeer was a vital player to the team, as they reached three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and won back-to-back in 1989 and 1990. Because of his double-double output of 13.5 points and 10.1 rebounds for Detroit in 937 games across 12 seasons, he was selected to four All-Star Games (1983, 1984, 1985, and 1987). Laimbeer is still the franchise’s all-time leader in rebounds with 9,430.

Ben Wallace

After seven seasons, Detroit moved on from their 1994 third overall pick Grant Hill and traded him to the Orlando Magic for Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins in August 2000. The trade was a huge gamble for the Pistons, as they gave up one of the most dynamic scorers in the league. But it paid dividends because “Big Ben” became an integral member of the 2004 championship team.

Because of his solid defensive game, Wallace helped Detroit appear in eight straight playoff runs from 2002 to 2009 and back-to-back NBA Finals in 2004 and 2005. Wallace and the Pistons defeated the star-studded Lakers in 2004 in one of the top NBA Finals upsets in history. The 6-foot-9 center also tied the record for the most Defensive Player of the Year awards with four and became one of the top four undrafted NBA Players in history.

Rasheed Wallace

The Pistons’ 2004 NBA title run was not complete without the services of sweet-shooting power forward Rasheed Wallace. He was acquired in a big three-team trade with the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics during the 2004 trade deadline. It proved to be an important move for the team, as “Sheed” immediately became a starter and impacted both ends of the floor.

In his first 22 games in a Detroit jersey, Wallace averaged 13.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 2.0 blocks in 30.6 minutes. After their title run in 2004, the 6-foot-11 forward continued to play for the team for five more seasons, where they reached the playoffs; however, they failed to win another title. Wallace finished his stint with the Pistons with 13.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.8 assists.

Blake Griffin

The end of the “Lob City” era for the Los Angeles Clippers saw its superstar Blake Griffin being traded to the Detroit Pistons in January 2018. Detroit reached a deal with Los Angeles to acquire Griffin, Brice Johnson, and Willie Reed for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a first-round pick, and a second-round pick.

Griffin’s arrival at the Palace completed the team’s goal of trading for a bona fide superstar, and this helped end their playoff drought. Sadly, Griffin was a shell of his prime from the Clippers days, as he suffered multiple injuries. “B.G.” played 138 games for Detroit across four seasons and accumulated an average of 20.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. The 6-foot-9 high-flyer bought out his contract with Detroit in 2021 and signed with the Brooklyn Nets.

4 Biggest Detroit Pistons Trades

YearPlayer AcquiredTrade Details
1982Bill LaimbeerPistons received: Bill Laimbeer and Ken Carr / Cavaliers received: Phil Hubbard, Paul Mokeski, one first-round pick, and one second-round pick
2000Ben WallacePistons received: Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins / Magic received: Grant Hill
2004Rasheed WallacePistons received: Rasheed Wallace and Mike James / Celtics received: Chucky Atkins, Lindsey Hunter, 2004 first-round pick and cash compensation / Hawks received: Bobby Sura, Zeljko Rebraca, and Chris Mills
2018Blake GriffinPistons received: Blake Griffin, Brice Johnson, and Willie Reed / Clippers received: Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a first-round pick, and a second-round pick

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About the Author

Anatoly Pimentel

Read More @AnatolyPimentel

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.