According to the Detroit Pistons PR department, and our own Benjamin Gulker's analysis, the Pistons will not use the CBA amnesty provision this summer. The two prime cases for contractual amnesty, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva are likely to start the 2012-13 season in Pistons uniforms (barring a rare act of Jod). Given that the Pistons currently have 14 players on the roster and are likely to add five more this summer, how will Detroit fit these 19 players into a 15 man roster limit? Let's explore...
Potential Summer Roster Additions:
Previous Draftees: Kyle Singler - 33rd Pick in 2011 NBA Draft
2012 NBA Draft Picks: One 2012 First Round Lottery Pick, Two 2012 Second Round Lottery Picks
Potential Free Agent Additions: The Pistons are over the salary cap, but they will be able to use the full mid-level exception. They can also sign veteran's minimum players for every empty roster spot available.
Potential Summer Roster Losses:
Jason Maxiell could exercise his early termination option and sign a long term contract elsewhere this summer. Damien Wilkins, Walker Russell and Ben Wallace are all unrestricted free agents, and they could depart for another team (or retirement) instead of rejoining Detroit next season. Last, the Pistons owe Vernon Macklin a cheap qualifying offer at just under a million this summer, but can opt not to match should he receive a higher offer elsewhere.
If all of these players depart, Detroit will have a 9 man roster than can facilitate holding 3 new draft picks, the addition of Kyle Singler and a free agent signed with the Mid-Level Exception.
Likely Returning Free Agents:
Jason Maxiell, Ben Wallace and Vernon Macklin are likely to return for the Pistons for another season.
Jason Maxiell - Should Maxiell rejoin Detroit next season, he'd do so on the final year of his current contract with $5,000,000 due. If Jason exercises his player option, this is the best case scenario for Detroit. His current production and expiring contract will make him a solid trade asset by the 2013 trade deadline.
Ben Wallace - Ben Wallace first said he wanted to retire, now he is thinking about joining the team for another season. If he wants to rejoin the Pistons, he is the one player that should be accommodated.
Vernon Macklin - Vernon Macklin is due a $937,195 qualifying offer next season, which his play in the D-league and NBA garbage minutes has clearly warranted. Per dollar, his kind of production, youth and size is precisely what a lottery team like the Pistons need at the end of the bench.
This leaves the Pistons with a 12 man roster, letting Damien Wilkins and Walker Russell Jr. depart for a shot elsewhere.
Total Legacy Roster: 12
Detroit's legacy roster players that are likely to remain with Detroit next season totals at 12. With the likely number of summer acquisitions at 5, Detroit will need to cut two roster spots or use overseas/D-league options for newly drafted talent.
End of Roster Decisions:
If Detroit sends its two 2nd round draft picks from the 2012 draft overseas, Detroit's roster will fit in to the allotted 15. That's the easy route, but a full roster will impact trade flexibility and it's harder to develop young players when they're out of the country. It's also very likely that the Pistons will acquire a low-usage contributor early in the second round that is ready for NBA playing time.
The problem is that if Detroit wants to give a high second rounder a roster spot, they need to cut a player or prevent Kyle Singler from returning. If they opt to cut a player and pass on Singler's rights, they could run a roster of 14 if one of their second round draft picks was sent to the D-League or Europe.
The best case scenario is that Detroit attempts to trade two players on its roster for draft picks, and potentially trade the draft rights to Kyle Singler. Will Bynum will be on the final year of his contract, and his career performance and expiring deal might be worth a late second rounder in 2013 or beyond.
Austin Daye is in a contract year, where the Pistons have a team option on whether or not to retain him (there is a conflict in the data available between ShamSports and HoopsHype). Yes, he's been a disappointment this season, but another team could take a flyer on Daye in the hopes that he performs, and if he does they can use the team option to keep him around for another year while retaining his free agent restrictions. If he fails, they receive nearly $3M in expiring salary.
Kyle Singler may not fetch much of anything on the market, but given his respectable shooting numbers in Spain, his rights may be worth a very late second rounder in a future draft. Long story short, if the Pistons want to properly manage their roster and bring in the talent they need this summer, the best way to do so might be to hunt for second round picks with under-performing-yet-expiring Pistons players. These trades may not be pretty or exciting, but they might be necessary.
Given that trades for 2nd round picks will provide Detroit with much needed roster flexibility, would you send out Austin Daye, Will Bynum and Kyle Singler for future draft options? NOW YOUR THOUGHTS.