The team has already released every player without a guaranteed salary (bye-bye Peyton Siva and Josh Harrellson), so the team would have to either release a player or make a lopsided trade where the team sends out more players than it takes back.
While I'm sure the team would prefer to ship out Josh Smith and an end-of-the-bencher, that is easier said than done. And assuming the roster stays as it stands at its current state, Will Bynum and Tony Mitchell are probably the most vulnerable to not being on the roster on opening night -- and I give the edge to Mitchell to remain on the team.
First, the Pistons already have an incumbent starter (Brandon Jennings), just signed a superior backup (DJ Augustin) and drafted a point guard (Spencer Dinwiddie). Yes, Dinwiddie is currently recovering from an ACL tear, but it will be about 10 months removed from injury by the time the season gets under way. The Pistons seem like they will be extremely cautious with Dinwiddie but he's already at a point where he has no physical restrictions and seems like he should be ready to contribute sometime around the turn of the year at the latest.
Second, it should be extremely easy to trade Bynum. Bynum could be a contributor on a team looking for a dose of instant offense off the bench who can drive and pass to open teammates. That isn't in Detroit, where Stan Van Gundy has focused on adding legitimate 3-point threats but I'm pretty sure more than one team would want Bynum's services.
Bynum is on the books for a hair under $3 million ($2,915,980 to be precise) and the maximum amount of cash a team can send in a trade is $3 million. This means that even under a worse-case scenario, Detroit could essentially bribe a team to take on Bynum's contract in exchange for a second-round pick.
Bynum probably has a tad more value than a straight giveaway. A trade, after all, is more of a sure thing. If Bynum were released and three teams called hoping to pay him the veteran minimum then Bynum would get to choose which team he would play for. A trade, however, would mean that whichever one of the three teams presented the best offer to Detroit would be ensured to have Bynum under contract for the year. And the Pistons could send money up to the league minimum (maybe more, maybe less) to facilitate the deal.
Also, keep in mind that the team does not have to shrink down to a roster of 15 until late October so the team can explore trades and wait and see what potential moves are available for the next several months.
And if Bynum does make the team, it means one or more of the following:
- The Pistons prioritize having a third guard on the roster while Dinwiddie recovers.
- Tony Mitchell, for all his natural gifts, has shown such a lack of growth and/or desire to get better that the team is already willing to cut bait on an intriguing prospect and swallow his $700K-plus in guaranteed money.
- The Pistons see some actual value in having Bynum serve as the third guard on the roster and receive spot minutes in 2014-15.