It's difficult to gauge the Pistons as a team as it enters free agency. This is largely because so much is in flux and the team has just enough money available to add complementary pieces and not any one real difference maker. The team's second-best player Greg Monroe is a restricted free agent who will either be resigned for top dollar or traded in return for significant pieces. The team also is probably willing to listen to any and all offers for Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, but it's hard to tell what they would get (or have to take back) in return. There is also the question of the team's impending lottery pick and how that plays into team needs going forward.
With all that said, I've decided to waste my time on evaluating the upcoming free agent class. This comes on the heels of examining the Pistons impending cap space and evaluating who else is going to have money to spend. One thing this free agent class makes clear is that Greg Monroe, for all his faults, is certainly one of the best handful of players available on the open market.
These rankings are rather unscientific and organized in a way that made sense to me at the time, which is to say, they don't make much sense. But it ought to get the ball rolling. Today, we will go over the players with early termination and player options as well as the restricted free agents. In other words, the players who are available but not really available. Tomorrow (maybe?) we will explore the more fun batch of unrestricted free agents.
The ETO and Player Option All-Stars
Surely going to return to current team
These are players who either have player or early termination options on their current contract. Most are likely not to terminate their deals but some might sensing a good opportunity to score a new long-term commitment from a team flush with available cash. If anyone unexpectedly opted out of their deal, it would definitely be a game changer.
Might actually opt out
This trio is much more interesting. Anthony might bolt to a situation with an actual future while Randolph might sense that if he's going to secure one more big, multi-year deal it is going to be now or never. Gay, similarly, could forgo a mega payday to secure his long-term future. He was playing out of his mind when traded to the Kings earlier this year, but injury troubles derailed that and he's likely to return to Sacramento.
Channing Frye, meanwhile, is sort of an unheralded player with a sizable $6.8 million player option, but he played so well and as a legitimate stretch-four would be in such high demand, I wouldn't be surprised if he opted out of his deal. Morrow is also a 3-point specialist and because he is set to make just more than $1 million a season after shooting 45 percent from 3, I would be shocked if he didn't opt out.
Particularly for the Pistons, investing in a guy like Morrow or Frye makes a lot of sense.
Restricted Free Agents
These are players that aren't leaving their current teams unless another team makes such a sizable offer that the current team won't be able to stomach matching.
I'm increasingly convinced that Monroe is going to get a max offer. Hopefully the Pistons are smart enough to match it and sort everything out at a later date. Monroe's combination of scoring, rebounding and youth is just too valuable of a commodity to give up.
Thomas has played exceptionally good offensive basketball for three seasons now but finally managed to break into the public consciousness this past year. He provides a rare combination of quickness, shooting ability, floor vision and craftiness. Still, there might be a ceiling how far a point guard 5-foot-9 point guard can take you because there are natural defensive limitations. The Kings seem less than enamored with him and he would be absolute murder on the pick and roll with Andre Drummond. But he is probably priced out of the Pistons' range and not sure if Sacramento is actually willing to let him get away.
Bledsoe was a big part of the emergence of the Phoenix Suns, but then again, he was only a part. How much was it Bledsoe's abilities and how much of it was playing alongside Most Improved Player Goran Dragic and inside Jeff Hornacek's crazy fun and effective offensive scheme? I wouldn't be willing to pay to find out, but I don't think the Suns would be willing to pay to see if they could replicate their success without him either.
If Pistons fans think Monroe botched his final season before restricted free agency, they should take a look at Hayward's season. Nothing seemed to go right as he shot a career low 30.4 percent from deep. A lot of that might have to do with the lackluster cast around him, though, and he should be expected to rebound when surrounded by NBA caliber talent. Like most RFA's, it's doubtful he leaves his current situation.
After floating around international ball, including Israel, Ukraine and Germany, Tucker finally found a home in Phoenix. This year, he became a deadly 3-point shooter with the ability to rebound and get some steals. With so much available money I doubt that he leaves Phoenix, but another team might be willing to throw a lot of money his way.
are perilously close to the salary cap limit have $57 million in committed salary next season and either have to pay up to bring back Al Farouq-Aminu and Jason Smith or let them walk away. Plus, with so much money committed to the back court in Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and with lottery pick Austin Rivers on the team, they might be forced to let Roberts walk if anyone throws money at him. He's on the older side and doesn't do anything great but he is a solid stopgap point guard as a primary reserve or even a desperation starter.
The Mephis Grizzles were smart to demand Ed Davis in the Rudy Gay trade, unfortunately, with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol firmly entrenched there hasn't been much opportunity for him. If Randolph stays then the Grizz won't be able to afford a significant offer for Davis without going into the luxury tax. But per 36, he gives you 12.4 points an 9.8 rebounds with 1.6 blocks. A smart team with a front court opening should offer him a bunch of money and a four-year deal as it will likely look like a steal in years three and four.
Patrick Patterson has been on four teams in five years; a player with just enough promise to keep getting thrown into larger trades. He's been a key stretch big for Toronto and is unlikely to leave the team. I assume that he will sign his qualifying offer and test unrestricted free agency next year. If can keep his 3-point shooting near the 40 percent mark then he will get piad.
Another key Toronto piece in the Gay deal, Vasquez has been outshined by the emergence of Kyle Lowry as probably the best point guard on the market. But Vasquez has been an important piece as a reserve point guard. You just wish his defensive abilities as a point matched his 6-foot-6 frame. Unlikely to leave Toronto.