From A. Sherrod Blakely:
The Pistons are expected to spend the early part of free agency focused on landing one of the following players: James Jones of Portland; C.J. Miles of Utah or Mickael Pietrus of Golden State.
Also, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald suggests the Pistons are interested in poaching James Posey from the Celtics:
A league source said yesterday the valuable swingman’s dance card will be top-heavy with contenders that appreciate more than ever the intangible ways Posey can contributes to a championship team. Posey now lists two NBA titles on his resume, after helping the Celtics to a championship last month and the Miami Heat to the 2006 crown.
Posey’s hometown Cleveland Cavaliers are said to be putting together an offer, in addition to the Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets.
Personally, I'd take Posey over Jones, Miles or Pietrus any day of the week (annoying mouth guard and all) -- he's a gnat on defense and has always seemed to hit a three-pointer against the Pistons at the worst possible moment. Considering he's also seeking the full mid-level exception over 4-5 years, though, I don't think the Pistons will be in this race for long, especially when you consider he's already 31 years old.
The other three guys should be had for much cheaper. Just for context, Pietrus had a better season in 2006-07 than he did this past year, but even then he wasn't able to garner a single offer as a restricted free agent than Golden State's $3.5 million qualifying offer.
Granted, part of that is because teams have become reluctant to negotiate with restricted free agents in recent years, but that's probably not too far from his market value. (Jones, meanwhile, made $2.9 million last year. Miles, who was drafted out of high school and is still just 21 years old, made less than $800K, but that's because he was still working on his rookie contract.)
Also, ASB had this on Tuesday:
On the home front, the Pistons expect Lindsey Hunter to return next season, but it'll likely be in an even more diminished role than the one he had this season.
Detroit is in the market for a No. 3 point guard -- possibly a player who emerges from a summer league team in Las Vegas -- who would play ahead of Hunter.
The Pistons also are expected to bring Theo Ratliff back next season.
Walter Hermmann is another possibility, but he's expected to have more lucrative offers from overseas teams. And when you combine that with the fact that he may very well have another season with a limited role, he may decide to play elsewhere.
Hunter played just 24 games last year -- what does an even more diminished role look like -- 15 games? 10? If that's really what's in store, why bother? Why not save that spot for a rotating D-League flavor of the week?
I'm on board with the Ratliff decision so long as it's a one-year deal. (That seems obvious, right? Don't forget, we all assumed that's all Hunter would get back in the summer of 2006 before Dumars surprised us by giving him two.) I don't want to see Ratliff take a single minute away from Jason Maxiell or Amir Johnson, but this team need a backup center and he's not (completely) running on fumes.
As for Herrmann, I'd be shocked if he's back. Even if the Pistons really wanted to keep him (and if they did, they wouldn't be going after guys like Posey, Pietrus and Jones), there's simply better money to be had in Europe, especially when you consider that Euro contracts are net (not gross), include additional housing stipends and require players to play fewer games. Oh yeah, and he'd probably be a star over there but only a little-used reserve over here. It's been nice, Fabio; be sure to send a postcard.