Hayes was the No. 7 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, after playing in France and Germany. Weaver and the Pistons were intrigued by his professional experience at the age of 19, as well as his size at the point guard position (6-foot-5).
But he never figured out how to score in the NBA, averaging 8.1 points for his career, shooting 38.1% from the field and only 27.9% from the three-point line.
Even with coach Monty Williams often playing 11 and even 12 players, Hayes had fallen behind Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Alec Burks and even rookie Marcus Sasser in the rotation. Rather than sit on the bench as Detroit’s sixth guard, Hayes would prefer a trade, especially as he heads into restricted free agency this summer.
It’s a disappointing ending to what was a disappointing draft for Weaver. The Pistons GM was very active around the draft, turning Luke Kennard, Christian Wood, a first-rounder and five second-round picks into Delon Wright and rookies Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey.
Stewart has been a passable big man, while Weaver traded Bey for a different disappointing 2020 first-round pick, center James Wiseman.
Since trading for Wiseman last February, the Pistons have won just eight games — an 8-64 record.
But it’s not just Hayes falling short that haunts the Pistons. It’s that they passed on so many good players. They could have an All-Tyrese All-Star backcourt, but they passed on Tyrese Haliburton once and Tyrese Maxey three times. They passed on Devin Vassell, Desmond Bane and Jaden McDaniels, all of whom were good enough to sign nine-figure rookie extensions.
There have been other problems in the Weaver era. He added too many centers, like when he traded for Wiseman, Nerlens Noel and Marvin Bagley, despite having Stewart and Jalen Duren. Weaver sold low on Jerami Grant, getting just a late first-round pick and a second-round pick swap for the forward.
He eventually had to send two second-round picks to Washington to dump Bagley’s contract, a deal Weaver gave him 18 months earlier.
Still, Hayes is the biggest symbol of what might have been. To have three picks in the top 19 of the draft and come away almost totally empty three years later is a disaster, and a huge reason Detroit is having one of the worst seasons in NBA history.
With Hayes on the way out, based on track record, Weaver’s days also may be numbered in Detroit.