At midnight Eastern Standard Time, the 2015-16 NBA free agency period opens. At that time, Greg Monroe will begin talks with quite a few teams, none of which is the Pistons. This is partially because two years ago when Monroe was first up for an extension, he and Detroit couldn't come to terms. Then, last year, Monroe took the somewhat unprecedented step of taking the qualifying offer so this year he could be a restricted free agent and have his choice of where he wanted to play.
There will be no such drama with Andre Drummond. The Detroit Pistons view Drummond as their franchise cornerstone and will not hesitate to extend Drummond to a maximum salary. There are, however, cap implications that could impact when the extension is signed.
A source in the know told me Andre Drummond wants his extension this summer. Not a newsflash, but official signing could be put off a year.— Vincent Ellis (@Vincent_Ellis56) June 29, 2015
#Pistons could ask him to delay until next year and have more cap room next year, but right now get the sense Drummond doesn't want to wait.— Vincent Ellis (@Vincent_Ellis56) June 29, 2015
Well, this is both awesome and confounding. Drummond is willing to commit five more years to the Pistons, and that is absolutely great to hear. But the Pistons want to wait until next year. Why? It's all about the salary cap.
But if Drummond wants an extension now, forcing him to play the waiting game could upset the big man. The Pistons are making moves this offseason. They've traded for Ersan Ilyasova which should help stretch the floor. Hopefully, Brandon Jennings will be back and healthy and the Pistons will have two starter quality guards. They have cap room to go after a starting small forward and have Stanley Johnson serving as a backup. But what if the Pistons flounder? What if the team sustains some hefty injuries? What if the team dynamic blows up and chemistry goes out the window? What if it only wins 20 games? Will Andre Drummond then consider signing the qualifying offer, too?
Here is a nice article on rookie contract extensions. Here's how it would work for Andre in both scenarios (signing this year vs. next year)
Andre gets extension this year
Drummond is set to make $3,272,091 this year. Even if he signs an extension he will only be paid $3.2 million in 2015-16. His extension would be worth $22.5 million (roughly 25 percent of the expected 2016-17 salary cap) starting in 2016-17. Drummond would almost certainly get the Designated Player extension which is five years and 7.5-percent annual raises, so he would be on contract through the 2020-21 season with a contract paying him roughly $130 million.
Andre gets extension next year
If the Pistons were to extend him the same Designated Player extension next year, things don't change much. Drummond still gets his five-year extension and a $130-million deal. So why wait? Because if the Pistons can convince Drummond to wait then they get an extra $15 million in salary cap space.
That is because only Drummond's cap hold would count against the cap. His cap hold will be roughly $8 million. If the Pistons ink the extension this summer the full $22.5 million counts against the salary cap. If they convince him to wait only $8 million counts against the salary cap.
In fact, it's similar to what the Pistons are dealing with this offseason with Reggie Jackson. The Pistons have made it pretty clear Jackson will ink a new deal in Detroit. That new deal, however, is likely going to be the last bit of free agent business that gets officially taken care of. That is because right now, Jackson counts only 5.5 million against the cap.
Because he only counts for $5.5 million, the Pistons have roughly $19 million in cap space to sign free agents. If Jackson signed a new deal right away (for, say, $13 million) most of that cap space would disappear.
So it is in the team's best interest to wait, but by waiting Drummond risks the security that he would have by inking the deal this summer.
Another thing to note is that while $15 million sounds like a lot of money, in the scope of the 2016-17 salary cap it's not as big as it appears. The cap is anticipated to be $89 million and the Pistons are expected to have about $35 million available even if they sign a free agent to a max contract this offseason and add a backup center and another piece.
If Drummond signs an extension this offseason then they'd still have $20 million available to sign free agents.
What should the Pistons do, sign Drummond to an extension as soon as possible and make him happy or ask him to wait for the good of the team?