The Killian Hayes era has come to an end.
The Detroit Pistons officially parted ways with the 2020 No. 7 overall pick — the first selection by general manager Troy Weaver — on Thursday, releasing him with less than two hours to go before NBA trade deadline.
The Pistons on Wednesday added forward Simone Fontecchio from the Utah Jazz, then a few hours later, dealt Monte Morris to Minnesota for Shake Milton, Troy Brown Jr. and a 2030 second-round pick. On Thursday, the team traded Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks to New York Knicks in exchange for guards Ryan Arcidiacono, Malachi Flynn, Quentin Grimes, forward Evan Fournier and two second-round draft picks. The Pistons also added 76ers guard Danuel House and a 2024 second-round pick (which originally belonged to the Knicks) in exchange for a highly protected 2028 second-round pick.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the team also released House and forward Joe Harris, dropping their roster count to 16, one over the limit if all of the trades were to be approved at this point.
Hayes, who could be a restricted free agent in the summer if given a qualifying offer, has been granted his desire for a new opportunity after falling out of favor with the team that drafted him.
The 22-year-old’s time in Detroit was marred by inefficiency, with rare flashes of the scoring potential that led to him being a consensus lottery pick heading into the draft. While Hayes is averaging career highs in shooting accuracy this season (41.3% overall, 29.7% from 3), he’s again among the NBA’s least-efficient players with a 45.2 effective field goal percentage (with the league average at 54.7). Coupled with the team’s young depth at point guard, Hayes’ future as a Piston looked dim as the trade deadline neared.
The writing for Hayes’ eventual split had been on the wall since last summer, when the Pistons traded for Morris a week after swinging a separate trade to draft Marcus Sasser late in the first round. That was after they drafted Jaden Ivey fifth overall in 2022, and Cade Cunningham first overall in 2021.
Hayes was a favorite of new head coach Monty Williams, though, and was a starter during preseason and 21 of Detroit’s first 25 games. But his minutes declined after returning from a four-game absence due to illness on Dec. 28, as Ivey’s playing time increased. Morris’ season debut Jan. 24 left even fewer available minutes for the fourth-year guard, who was a healthy scratch for three games before starting Wednesday in place of the inactive Cade Cunningham and with Morris having been traded.
A torn labrum in his hip cost Hayes the majority of his rookie season, during which he averaged 6.8 points, 5.3 assists and 2.7 rebounds across 26 games. He appeared in 66 games as a sophomore and 76 games last season, with an expanded role after Cunningham went down with a stress fracture in his left shin. But after averaging a season-high 28.3 minutes last year, Hayes is playing a career-low 23.9 minutes this season for the league-worst Pistons.
Hayes was excelling at taking care of the ball, dishing four times as many assists (4.9) as turnovers (1.2) this season. He finishes his Pistons tenure having appeared in 210 games with 145 starts, averaging 8.1 points, 5.2 assists, two turnovers, 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals, with shooting splits of 38.1/27.7/77.5 and a dreadful 42.9 eFG% and 45.5 true shooting percentage.
With his trade, the only remaining member of the Pistons’ four-player 2020 draft class is Isaiah Stewart, drafted 16th overall and signed a four-year, $60 million extension last summer. (Saddiq Bey, 19th overall, was traded to Atlanta in a three-team deal for James Wiseman, and Saben Lee, 38th overall, was dealt to Utah along with Kelly Olynyk for Bojan Bogdanovic.)
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