In the two years that Stan Van Gundy has been the President/Coach of the Pistons, we've certainly learned a lot about him. Stan-as-coach is defensive minded, doesn't feed you bull crap, and is good for a lot of awesome confused/angry/exasperated photos from the sideline. Stan-as-president is also defensive minded, doesn't feed you bull crap, and I suppose offers the same photo-geniality opportunities as he does as coach.
As President, Stan also isn't afraid of a trade, as evidenced by the fact that he has traded away Joel Anthony (and brought him back), Brandon Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova, Quincy Miller, Caron Butler, Shawne Williams, Will Bynum, Jonas Jerebko, Tony Mitchell, D.J. Augustin, Luigi Datome and Kyle Singler since October of 2014. In return, the Pistons acquired Ersan Ilyasova, Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris, Tayshaun Prince, Reggie Jackson, Reggie Bullock, Anthony Tolliver, Joel Anthony and Steve Blake. I think we can safely say that the product has been worth the price.
Most intriguing to this writer are two types of trades that Stan (and Jeff Bower, who really seems to do all the legwork and just present SVG with a menu of trade choices) has pulled off. In the first type of trade, the Pistons acquire young players on good-value contracts who are undervalued by their team. Morris and Harris fit this bill. I think these players are harder to find, because why would teams give up on cheap, young talent? Usually it involves a regime change or clash of wills, and teams are often very cagey about making these players available.
The second type of trade is where they find impending Restricted Free Agents they think will fit well, and instead of waiting until summer to bid against other teams they acquire them near the deadline when teams want to get something instead of losing an asset. That gives SVG and co. an extended trial period to see if they still want to sign the players long term. Reggie Jackson, Donatas Motiejunas, and to an extent Reggie Bullock fit here. Now the Donuts trade fell through, but I like what Stan was thinking, and Stan's thinking got me to thinking about what Stan may be thinking next. The question is this: Will the Pistons trade for another Restricted Free Agent this summer?
In past trades, the team used expiring contracts and draft picks to pull off these trades. This coming summer, they will have both again: Jodie Meeks is on a $6.5 million contract that expires in 2017, Joel Anthony has a $2.5 million team option for the next season, and Spencer Dinwiddie's deal for next year comes in just a shade under $1 million. That gives the team plenty of salary-matching ammo should they need it, but depending on when Drummond's deal gets done and which free agents they sign, they may not even need to match salary because of the exploding cap. We also know that Stan is willing to give up this year's first round pick to get someone he feels will be a long-term piece. A package of a draft pick in the teens plus almost $10 million in expiring contracts should be enough to pry away a player that a team is worried might wind up leaving anyway.
The big question is: Are there any RFA's out there worth that package? The answer is yes. There are many players who could fit long-term and several that could make an immediate impact.
|Victor Oladipo||6,552,960||Otto Porter||5,893,981||Nikola Mirotic||5,782,450|
|Trey Burke||3,386,598||Ben McLemore||4,008,882||Cody Zeller||5,318,313|
|Michael Carter-Williams||3,183,526||C.J. McCollum||3,219,579||Alex Len||4,823,621|
|Dennis Schroeder||2,708,582||Shabazz Muhammed||3,046,299||Nerlens Noel||4,384,490|
|Shane Larkin*||1,500,000||Giannis Antetokounmpo||2,995,421||Steven Adams||3,140,517|
|Tony Snell||2,368,327||Kelly Olynyk||3,094,014|
|Tim Hardaway Jr.||2,281,605||Lucas Nogueira*||2,947,305|
|Archie Goodwin||2,094,089||Gorgui Dieng||2,348,783|
That's 23 first round picks from the 2013 draft. Two others are already on the Pistons: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Bullock. Of the other five, No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett is already a free agent, Sergey Karasev and Solomon Hill will be free agents this summer, Nemanja Nedovic has been a free agent for a while, and Livio Jean-Charles never played in the NBA. Nikola Mirotic was not a member of the 2013 draft but is still a restricted free agent this summer. Shane Larkin is an unrestricted free agent next summer, but I figured it's an unwritten rule that he has to be included in any talks about acquiring players for the future. Lucas Nogueira has a weird contract situation that I can't figure out and assume no one will be interested anyway, so I'm just linking to his contract page.
That leaves 23 (ish) players who could be possible targets under Trade Scenario No. 2. What I'd like to do is take a look at each player and write a short profile of what their career has been like so far. I'd also look at how much similar players (based on age/experience/production) have earned on their second contracts over the last ten years. That would offer a projection of what type of contract we could expect the Pistons to offer such a player.
23 player profiles is a lot though, and honestly some of the names up there aren't going to happen. The Bucks would be stupid to let Giannis go for picks and cap space. Same with the Jazz and Gobert. And so on.
So in honor of all the political commercials and conversations that are driving us nuts already, I'm proposing a very Democratic solution to the problem. If you are interested in knowing more about a potential trade target from the chart above, leave his name in the comments. If you get there and see someone else has already left his name, "rec" it. We will take a look at which players have the most recs and use that order to start releasing profiles. They probably won't show up on the site until after the Pistons' season is over, so hopefully in June you'll see these articles start popping up. In the mean time you can discuss what will hopefully be another glorious offseason of dazzling deals for SVG.