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2013 Free Agency: Available big men that could round out Pistons bench

Slava Kravtsov was sent to Milwaukee in the trade of two Brandons. Possible replacements include Ben Wallace, Cole Aldrich, Jason Collins and Malcom Thomas.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

An overlooked aspect of the big trade featuring Brandon Jennings and Brandon Knight was was that the Pistons sent away second-year big man Slava Kravtsov as well. Kravtsov was not only poised to be part of my favorite meme of 2013 (Boy! Mop Water!), but he was the Pistons only legitimate reserve center.

With Kravtsov gone and the Pistons now having an open roster spot it stands to reason that the team would want to bring in another big man to help in the limited role that will be required -- basically a big body and/or someone who can rebound, block shots and hand out fouls to help protect Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

At this point in the offseason pickings are somewhat slim but I scoured the Internet to come up with some sort of reasonable list of possible replacements. A couple caveats -- some players that could have made this list appear to have already signed to play overseas or latched on with other teams. I don't think that is the case for anyone below but I might be mistaken. On with the list.


Ben Wallace

Nothing needs to be said about the rationale of bringing back one of the greatest Pistons of all time. He sat out all of last season but stayed in shape and near the team and indicated he wasn't completely interested in staying retired. Could he join Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups on the Pistons Nostalgia Tour or is that just overkill? I'm sure the team would make room for him if he was interested.

Cole Aldrich

Already an NBA journeyman looking for his fourth team it's hard to remember that Aldrich was the 11th pick in the 2010 NBA draft, just four spots after the Pistons selected Greg Monroe. He was also picked ahead of Ed Davis and Larry Sanders. Aldrich is a legit 7-footer who can rebound and block shots but is unskilled offensively. In a 15-game cup of coffee with the Sacramento Kings he showed off some legitimate NBA skills.

Jason Collins

Yep, he's gay (yay mid-90s references!). But more than that he is a 12-year NBA veteran who will body up his man and isn't afraid of using his full allotment of fouls. An extra big man wouldn't be asked to do much and having a legit veteran might help out Detroit's young frontcourt.

Tyrus Thomas

Was a limited but reasonably productive player who used explosive athleticism to make up for lack of smarts. He soars for blocks and rebounds and can run in transition but has no offensive skill and can play out of position. He signed a huge deal with the lowly Bobcats and had a nice first season but the bottom has completely fallen out the past two seasons and he was amnestied. Could be a worthwhile reclamation project if he just needed to escape the toxic atmosphere in Charlotte.

Drew Gooden

Gooden has always seemed like a sort of numbskull who was just too naturally talented not to be productive. He's not a great defender and he'll leave you shaking your head but then you look at his stats and he's surprisingly effective. That is, until last season when he played only 151 minutes and the Bucks couldn't wait to be rid of him via the amnesty clause.

Hilton Armstrong

Armstrong is akin to a AAAA player in baseball. Those are the guys that are too good for the minors but can't quite make it all fit together in the big leagues. Armstrong hasn't played in the NBA since 2011 but played well in the D-League last season as a man among boys.

Hamed Haddadi

Never did much as the last big man off the bench in Memphis but he does have NBA experience, rebounds, and won't get pushed around on defense. Plus, the first ever Iranian in the NBA can join the first Swede in the NBA as a member of the Detroit Pistons.

Kyrylo Fesenko

More than just a big body, Fesenko showcased some legitimate skill as an NBA defender in Utah. Things never quite worked out there and he went to the Pacers in 2011-12 but barely played before being waived. He latched on with Chicago but never suited up there either. I have always read that he's a good teammate and hardworker.

Young Guns

Malcolm Thomas

Thomas has been with the Chicago Bulls and remains on their radar, but they seem to be kicking the tires on longtime veterans like Marcus Camby and the Pistons would be wise to swoop in and offer him a guaranteed deal. Thomas is more of a power forward, standing 6-9 at 225 pounds, but he uses his athleticism and 7-foot-2 wingspan well. He is fresh off a dominating performance in the Las Vegas Summer League to the tune of leading the league in rebounding, including a record 22-rebound game. Thomas has been brought in by the Spurs and the Bulls largely on his defensive promise and I wouldn't mind joining that club.

Henry Sims

There are worse options than bringing back one of Greg Monroe's old teammates on the Georgetown Hoyas. Think of it as an olive branch for all the ridiculous trade rumors he has been and will be subjected to. Sims was a D-League MVP last season thanks to his Monroe-like ability to use his feet well, make the right passes out of the post and at the elbow and ability to rebound and block shots. He is highly skilled and might be worth bringing on to see if he can develop into an actual rotational NBA player.

Derrick Nix

The former Michigan State Spartan is well known to Pistons brass as he played in nearby East Lansing and was brought in by the team for a workout during the predraft process. Nix is a beefy, 270-pound load on the block and has shown somewhat surprising agility considering he's built like a Mack truck. Plus, I would consider this a personal favor as my co-worker's 12-year-old son DVR'd the entire NBA draft and anxiously watched the entire thing just waiting for Nix's name to be called. I miss being that kind of wide-eyed fan and think it would probably make his day if Nix got a shot in Detroit.

Update: As mentioned in comments, Nix signed a three-year deal with Slovenian club Krka in late July.

Jack Cooley

Cooley is a basketball vacuum, able to Hoover up any available carom off the glass. He was third in all of college basketball in rebounding percentage despite standing at just 6-foot-9. He's also has touch around the rim but not really a jump shot to speak of. As a poor man's DeJuan Blair you could do much worse.