The Cap is projected to be $67 million. Pistons players under contract next season:
Brandon Jennings - $8,344,497
Jodie Meeks - $6,270,000
(Josh Smith Stretch - $5,400,000)
Andre Drummond - $3,272,091
Anthony Tolliver - $3,000,000
K. Caldwell-Pope - $2,891,760
Quincy Miller - $981,348
Spencer Dinwiddie - $845,059
(Aaron Gray Stretch - $452,049)
Those are the guaranteed contracts for next season, totaling $31,456,804.
I’d be interested in bringing Butler back at a reduced cost, but he’s not worth $4.5 million.
From there, I’d love to get one of the premiere free agents out there. I’d like to offer Draymond Green a max contract on day one of free agency and force Golden State to match. Then move on down the line to force Khris Middleton and Tobias Harris matches, before chasing unrestricted free agents in Paul Millsap and Danny Green with significant offers.
Free agency’s going to be tough though, especially with the upcoming cap increase. The Pistons struggling to crack 30 wins every year for the past decade makes it unlikely that guys like Millsap or Green would be interested in going from one of the league’s best teams to one of the worst. I’m doubtful Greg Monroe would have much interest in signing with Detroit - but personally I’m not all that keen on paying a max contract for a guy who doesn’t really fit the direction of the team.
So with top-tier free agents probably off the table, mid-tier guys and trades are really the only way to improve the team. In all likelihood, I’d just draft Stanley Johnson, then sign Jae Crowder and Kyle O’Quinn. I’m a big fan of Johnson’s potential and think Crowder’s future is as a rich man’s DeMarre Carroll. For O’Quinn, he wouldn’t be able to match Moose’s volume scoring, but is just as good of a passer, a better defender, and can shoot.
But just signing Crowder and O’Quinn doesn’t make for a very exciting offseason plan, so I’ll spice it up. Going the trade route, we don’t have a ton of assets at our disposal. The most attractive is the lottery pick. I’m going to use it to try to build an immediate contender. I think Jackson and Drummond both have the potential to be top 5 players at their position with the right personnel around them, which makes win-now make some sense.
Trade crazy draft day:
Houston is looking to make a significant upgrade in their backcourt. Assuming they’re good to roll with Josh Smith and Donatas Motiejunas at power forward next year, I’m going to trade our 8 pick for Terrence Jones and their 18 pick in the draft. They’ll flip the 8 pick for some backcourt option of their choosing, maybe some package that revolves around Kevin Martin, George Hill, C.J. McCollum. I don’t know. Whoever they like. That's Daryl Morey's problem, not mine. The main thing here is that Morey would have to consider the 8 pick a better tool for accomplishing the goal of improving the backcourt than Jones and the 18 pick.
I just want Terrence Jones. He finished last season sixth among power forwards in wins produced per 48 minutes, he averaged 15 points on 56 percent true shooting and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes, shot 35 percent from three, and held opposing players to 4 percent below their average field goal percentages. And he’s just 23 years old. If you built a player to play next to Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, this is what he looks like. He’s in the final year of his rookie contract, so due for a raise next year, but that’s just fine.
Then I’ll flip the 18 pick for Danilo Gallinari. It’s a bit of a risk with his injury history and with only one year left on his contract, but he averaged 18 points per game on 60 percent true shooting after the All Star break this season. He’s worth the risk. It also fits with Denver’s trend of shipping off their older core for picks or youth.
We’d still have over $16 million in cap space (figuring we already extended Jackson his qualifying offer), so I’m going to use that to both accumulate assets and improve for the coming season. I’ll trade Martin for Andre Iguodala, Golden State’s 30th pick, and their 2016 first round pick. They’ll be eager to get rid of Iguodala’s contract to make room for Green’s upcoming max deal. It’d be a risk for us, putting the Pistons out of the running for Green - but it’d also be a sure way to put our cap space to work.
30: $1,093,680 - Jordan Mickey - His job will be to develop into the backup center job behind Drummond by becoming a dominant rebounder and defensive player. Though his height is a little short at 6’8, his 7’3 wingspan and 37 inch vertical should mean size isn’t an issue. I also really like Rakeem Christmas if Mickey were to already be picked.
38: Timothe Luwawu - I’d love to get Aleksandar Vezenkov, but going by the DraftExpress mock, he won’t be available. So Luwawu is the pick as the upside guy at small forward. I’d be fine with him as a draft and stash, but it sounds like he’s ready to come over immediately. D-League will be the plan for him for now.
After re-signing Jackson to 4 years starting at $15 million, we’ll round out the team with veteran minimum deals to Caron Butler and Joel Anthony.
That leaves the final lineup as:
Jackson / Jennings / Dinwiddie
KCP / Meeks / Butler
Gallinari / Iggy / Luwawu
Jones / Tolliver / Miller
Drummond / Anthony / Mickey
Based on wins produced figures from last season and likely playing time allocation, this roster projects to compete for 60 wins. Now that may not play out quite that well, but it should still be a competitive team. Considering there’s also an extra draft pick in the pocket for next year, I’d consider this a successful offseason.
Now your thoughts.