Following the 2015 NBA entry draft, a night that saw Stan Van Gundy and company select small forward Stanley Johnson, there is still plenty of work to do and cash to spend for the Detroit Pistons.
The trade for Ersan Ilyasova brought in a new starting power forward to replace the (likely) soon to depart Greg Monroe. That move sent out two players (Caron Butler and Shawne Williams) and returned only one to the fold. Factor in that Joel Anthony, John Lucas III, and Tayshaun Prince are all unrestricted free agents and that leaves the Pistons with nine bodies. Reggie Jackson is a restricted free agent and seems likely to re-sign, so he would make ten. Even with the two players from the draft, there is still room to fill. So the question is, who fills the gaps?
NBA free agent negotiations begin on July 1, and signing can begin on the 10th. Assuming Monroe leaves, the Pistons are expected to have about $18.5 million in cap space, not counting a good chunk of cash that will no doubt go to Reggie Jackson. So add in the mid-level exception and there is over $21 million open on the books. That may not be enough to snag LaMarcus Aldridge, but here are a few guys Van Gundy and crew might take a look at.LaMarcus Aldridge, but here are a few guys Van Gundy and crew might take a look at.
Rumors are now emerging that the Pistons, as well as the Boston Celtics are interested in restricted free agent Tobias Harris, who is coming off a career year with the Orlando Magic. He’ll be seeking a max deal coming off a year that saw him average 17.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1 steal a game in 34.8 minutes. Since he is restricted, the Magic can match offers and tie up money during waiting periods. Their drafting of Mario Hezonja, however, has lead some to believe they will let Harris walk.
Omri Casspi is coming off his best shooting year as a pro. The 6-foot-9 small forward signed a one-year deal with the Sacramento Kings last summer, the same team that drafted him in 2009. Throughout his first five seasons he had career shooting percentages of .421 (FG%), .666 (FT%), and .351 (3PT%). Last season, he improved those numbers significantly (.489/.733/.402) and he drew a lot more fouls. Shooting over 40% from behind the arc is something that is sure to catch Van Gundy’s eye. After drafting Stanley Johnson to play the small forward spot, they will need depth, and Casspi could be an affordable option who appears to be on an upswing. Salary in 2014: $1,063,384
Carroll is one of the names we have all heard associated with the Pistons this off-season, and he’s going to draw interest from everyone including the Los Angeles Lakers, Pelicans and Heat. Plus his current team, the Atlanta Hawks is sure to make him a big offer. And while his blue collar defensive wing style would be sure to make him a quick fan favorite here in Detroit, Carroll has a high probability over getting severely overpaid and never living up to his contract. He averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds last season, a prototypical ‘3&D’ type of player, and he would no doubt be a good fit for SVG’s system. But this team just has a history of giving out bad contracts, so we’re advising caution and hoping for the best.
The recently crowned NBA champ Leandro Barbosa was a solid piece off the bench for the Golden State Warriors, and while he’s a few years removed from his Sixth Man of the Year days in Phoenix, he can still play some defense and stroke the 3-ball. He’s got a lot of mileage on him for a 32-year-old, and chances are Steve Kerr would like to keep him in the Bay Area, but if he takes his ring and bolts, he could prove a good fit in Van Gundy’s system. Salary in 2014: $1,448,490
Chris Middelton was one of Joe Dumars‘ last real steals in the draft. Selected in the second round in 2012, he played sparingly for the Pistons before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks as part of a package that brought back Brandon Jennings in return. With the move came playing time and a chance for Middleton to prove himself. In two seasons with the Bucks, he averaged over 12 points a game and shot well, including hitting at a 41 percent clip from behind the long line and an impressive 86 percent from the charity stripe. A return to Detroit may not be at the top of his wish list, and the Bucks will make a strong play to keep him, but he’s worth keeping an eye on. Salary in 2014: $915,243
And as much as it pains me to say, the no-longer realistic one…
Another member of the recently crowned Warriors, Draymond Green was runner-up in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year award and is due a huge raise. This is my dream scenario; former Michigan State standout returns home to help pull the franchise back into relevance. The Pistons haven’t had a defensive presence like Green’s since the “Going to Work” era, which now feels eons ago.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of Green returning to Michigan grows bleaker by the day, most recently after Warriors general manager Bob Myers insisted that his team’s fans had nothing to worry about when it comes to keeping Green in Oakland.
Moreover, despite the mutual interest between the Pistons and Green, he is a restricted free agent, and Golden State would likely match any offer he gets. Rumor is the Pistons might not want to wait for that to happen. If they make an offer, Golden State could use up the full time they are allotted to match the offer (72 hours), and that would tie up the Pistons’ cash, preventing them from persuing other players until the offer is matched. Salary in 2014: $915,243
Between the draft and free agency, small forward could go from this team’s biggest weakness to a strength. Who would you like to see in the red and blue next season?