The Pistons traded forward Marcus Morris to the Boston Celtics for guard Avery Bradley and a 2019 second-round draft pick on Friday, a league source confirmed to The Detroit News. The trade was first reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Bradley, a 6-foot-2 combo guard, is regarded as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and his acquisition spells an unexpected end to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's tenure with the Pistons. Caldwell-Pope was a restricted free agent, set to get a hefty pay raise — possibly a maximum offer sheet in the range of $25 million per season.
Instead, the Pistons moved on from Caldwell-Pope, rescinding his qualifying offer of $5 million, a source also told to The Detroit News. That move makes Caldwell-Pope an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team.
The Pistons, already over the salary cap, would have been in a financial bind if they were pushed to match a max offer sheet for Caldwell-Pope — which would have put them above the luxury tax and above the NBA's apron, a threshold that would have limited the other moves they could have made financially.
Instead, the opted for the trade for Bradley, 26, who has one year remaining on his contract, at $8.8 million, after which time he could become an unrestricted free agent. According to ESPN's Bobby Marks, the Pistons have the ability to offer a two-year, $19-million extension to Bradley, but with the escalating contracts in the NBA, it's unlikely that Bradley would want a bigger contract on the open market.
Morris, 27, was a versatile starter in his two years with the Pistons, playing in 159 of 162 games. He averaged 14.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists after being acquired in July 2015 from the Phoenix Suns, along with Reggie Bullock and Danny Granger, for a 2020 second-round pick. Morris also had a valuable contract for the Pistons, with two years and $10.4 million remaining on his deal.
"Nothing but love for Detroit," Morris texted The Detroit News on Friday afternoon.
Andre Drummond welcomed Bradley on Twitter: "Welcome to the family Avery! Let's get to work!"
The appeal for the Celtics in the deal is that it frees up some cap space to acquire All-Star guard Gordon Hayward, who opted this week for Boston over the Utah Jazz and Miami Heat.
For the Pistons, though, the peril of potentially going into the luxury tax for to retain Caldwell-Pope and not drastically alter a team that finished 37-45 last season was not a good gamble.
Bradley, 26, has been selected to the NBA's all-defensive team twice — second team in 2012-13 and first team in 2015-16 — and averaged career highs of 16.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists last season with the Celtics, where he's played all seven of his seasons in the NBA.
He left the University of Texas after one season in 2010 and was the No. 19 pick in the NBA draft that year by the Celtics.