Stan Van Gundy made his first move in attempting to remake the Detroit Pistons on draft night when he selected Spencer Dinwiddie at No. 38. Next up for Van Gundy is determining how the team should spend its $13.5 million in available cap space on free agents.
Dinwiddie was seen as a value draft pick as he was regarded as a first-round talent who fell in the draft because he is recovering from an ACL tear. When healthy the team hopes he will provide outside shooting, passing, perimeter defense and the ability to get to the free-throw line to the team's equation.
But he's hurt and can't be counted on until probably the turn of the year if at all this season. That means the team hasn't exactly crossed point guard off its list of free-agent needs to go along with the obvious holes at the small forward and shooting guard position.
What's he looking for in those positions? Not the big names like Lance Stephenson, Chandler Parsons or Kyle Lowry. Instead, Van Gundy said, the team plans to find valuable guys in three buckets -- the rare player that would command half their pot of money, a group of players that would cost about $5-$6 million per year and a group of guys on minimum contracts.
All in all, Van Gundy said, the team has about 10 players it will be targeting when free agency opens, and looks to be targeting perimeter shooting and a bigger backup point guard.
Let's try and guess who those 10 targeted players are with a couple caveats -- I'm focusing on the players making more than minimum (probably) but less than $6 million (probably). I'm assuming that Greg Monroe returns to the team. I'm not assuming any players are traded away. Players listed in no certain order.
8.3 points, 3.2 assists, 1.4 turnovers, 1.2 steals -- .483/.167/.827
Livingston could be a hot commodity as a reserve combo guard that could push Brandon Jennings for minutes. He's a quality defender that can allow you to switch the pick and roll, he can run an offense, force steals and get into the lane. He's not a 3-point shooter by any stretch but he could do wonders for the Pistons' leaky perimeter D, and could guard points while playing the 2-guard position alongside Jennings or another possible free agent.
2. Patty Mills
10.2 points, 1.8 assists, 0.8 turnovers, 0.8 steals -- .464/.425/.890
Speaking of Livingston's combo guard abilities, signing Livingston would allow the team to sign a player like Mills, who is only 6-0 and would seem to not qualify for the "bigger backup PG" slot outlined by Van Gundy. But if Mills is signed to be less of as point guard and more of a prolific shooter then he could serve mostly as a two-guard playing alongside a guy like Livingston. And Mills is the kind of player you make room for. He's become an adequate defender overall but also has shot over 40 percent from 3 in his five-year career including 42.5 percent last season on the championship San Antonio Spurs.
8.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals -- .458/.451/.828
Morrow is more of a traditional shooting guard but he can play small forward in a pinch, and he is a polific 3-point shooter. Morrow connected on an eye-popping 45 percent of attempts last year in New Orleans and opted out of a minimum salary deal to finally get paid. As far as fit and need, no player makes more sense for the Pistons to target than Morrow.
9.6 points, 4.1 assists, 1.6 turnovers, 2.2 rebounds -- .421/.377/.880
Vasquez has the size the Pistons appear to be looking for (6-6), and he shot a more than acceptable 37 percent on 3.7 attempts per game from 3. But. He's not particularly fast so his size advantage is somewhat mitigated and while he shot well from deep last season, previous that it was not a skill he showed much affinity for. But he sure has a knack for finding open teammates and can squeeze it into tight windows. He'd be a great playmaker/creator playing alongside the Monroe/Andre Drummond/Josh Smith trio.
5. CJ Miles
9.9 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.9 turnovers -- .435/.393/.853
Miles has quietly had an extremely productive couple of years on a very dysfunctional Cleveland Cavaliers team. He can be relied on to deliver night in and night out for 20 minutes per night. Even while lesser players were sucking up playing time in Cleveland, Miles was quietly the team's best 3-point shooter. He was also one of only two qualified players in the NBA to hoist four attempts per game while playing 20 minutes per less a night. The other was noted 3-point specialist Mirza Teletovic. Miles is unsung but has carved out a valuable role for himself in the league and he fits everything the Pistons are looking for.
6. PJ Tucker
9.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.7 assists -- .431/.387/.776
Tucker has definitely paid his dues -- with stints in Israel, Ukraine, Italy and Germany before finally finding a home in Phoenix a couple years ago. He's a strong, versatile defender who has also added a 3-point shot to his game. He's never going to wow you on offense but he more than makes up for it with his tenacious defense. At 225 pounds and with a 7-foot wingspan he can protect the perimeter from penetration, won't get back down on the block and will make the other team's life extremely difficult. Van Gundy has talked about building a team and not acquiring talent and Tucker is just about the perfect team player.
12.3 points, 4.1 assists, 1.8 turnovers, 2.4 rebounds -- .457/.282/.807
Sessions is good at controlling the offense and finding the open man. But he's just inconsistent enough that he's failed to hook himself into a reliable role the past couple of years. He found himself sort of foundering in Charlotte before sparking a little life into his game once he was traded to Milwaukee last season. He has good size, strength and speed and should be inexpensive so he should have appeal to Detroit as a reliable backup point guard who doesn't do anything great but does everything well enough.
6.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals -- .440/.386/.805
CDR is certainly flying under the radar. After playing sparingly or not at all the past two years, Douglas-Roberts carved out a valuable role on a resurgent Charlotte team. Van Gundy knows the Hornets coach well as Steve Clifford served with him as an assistant in Orlando so you can imagine SVG would get quality intel on if CDR is worth committing money and a roster spot to. In Charlotte he shot 38 percent from 3 and played more as the season went on.
6.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.7 steals -- .391/.354/.784
Hamilton didn't exactly light it up once moving on from Denver to Houston's prolific 3-point attack, but he further cemented himself as someone who deserves rotation-level minutes on a good team, and that's not nothing. He's about 36 percent from 3 in his three-year career and has the athleticism to get to the hoop if he has a sizable enough role in the offense to warrant putting the ball in his hands. He's also only 23 years old so he is not necessarily a finished product.
10. Jodie Meeks
15.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 steals -- .463/.401/.857
Meeks position is limited to shooting guard so he doesn't have the positional versatility of some other names on this list, but he is a 40-percent 3-point shooter taking more than five per game last season playing more than 30 minutes per night on an awful Lakers squad. Depending on how comfortable the Pistons would be sliding Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to small forward, Meeks could be an attractive option.