Cade Cunningham wants to play in Detroit. He wants to be a Piston. He made that clear during a press conference last week when he gushed about the city and the direction of the franchise under GM Troy Weaver.
"The organization has a lot of great people within it,” Cunningham said a few days after completing a private workout for the Pistons in Detroit. "Starting with the owners, Troy Weaver is a great GM, and then all the way down. They got just great people throughout. I learned a lot on my visit. If they take me I’ll definitely be excited to be there. They're a great organization, got a lot of good things going for them. They're in the restoration period. I don't think they're rebuilding. They're just trying to restore what they got going on, so definitely an exciting time for that organization for sure."
If Cunningham is all in on the Pistons, the feeling isn't yet mutual. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, "Detroit’s internal meetings are still revolving around three players for the No. 1 pick: Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley."
"Detroit isn’t fully there yet on committing to Cunningham with their first overall choice," Wojnarowksi says.
This is to be expected. While the Pistons are almost certain to take Cunningham if they stay at No. 1, Weaver has been open to the idea of trading down from the moment they won the lottery last month. It doesn't mean he's inclined to move the No. 1 pick, or that he will. Just that he's keeping all options open ahead of Thursday night.
Per Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman, the Pistons have already turned down a 'legitimate offer' from the Thunder, who are slated to pick No. 6. The Rockets, at No. 2, are also said to be 'aggressively pursuing' the top pick.
For reference, the Celtics traded the No. 1 pick in 2017 to the 76ers for the No. 3 pick and a future first-rounder -- a deal that worked out perfectly for Boston. The Celtics got a future star in Jayson Tatum third overall, while top pick Markelle Fultz lasted just two seasons in Philly.
Mobley would seem to be Detroit's target in the event of a trade. Weaver isn't shy about his love for centers, and the 7'0 Mobley has the skills and athleticism to thrive in today's NBA. Then again, the Pistons already have an All-Rookie center in Isaiah Stewart, the 16th overall pick in last year's draft.
A point forward, Cunningham feels like the best fit for a young core in Detroit that also features 2020 first-rounders point guard Killian Hayes and small forward Saddiq Bey.
"I saw Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey were both All-Rookie team, so I feel like that’s a direct correlation of what that staff is doing with their players and the amount of time they put into development," Cunningham said. "That's a good indication in itself, that’s something I like to see. Young core, things going well for them. Obviously they didn’t have the season they wanted to have last year, but a lot of things to build off of."
Cunningham said he felt the love on his visit to Detroit, especially when showered in 'We Want Cade!' chants at the Tigers game last Monday. And he said he's been listening Detroit music "way before the draft lottery," like The Temptations and hip-hop artists 42 Dugg and Babyface Ray.
“I was already hip to the culture in Detroit," he said. "It’s a city that has a lot of things going on, and I feel like getting a sports team rolling again would be huge for the city. If Detroit picks me, that’s the main thing I’m going to try to do: step in and embody the swag that people from Detroit walk with, the people from Michigan in general. They have an underdog, go-get-what-you-want feel to them and I like that about the city.
“So if I am able to go in there and be the No. 1 pick, I’m going to try to carry that same swag in how I walk on the court and make the most out of wearing red, white and blue."
His destination just isn't gauranteed. Not yet.