Revken’s Pistons’ Postseason Plan for Summer 2016

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The highest priority for Detroit this summer is to re-sign Andre Drummond to a five-year max contract for something north of $120 million. While the team will certainly make other moves first, putting off this task until the end in order to have the maximum cap space available to sign any free agents, they will simply be saving the best for last.

While the NBA Draft will come before free agency, Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower will waste no time in exploring how to bolster the Pistons’ roster via the trade route, just as they did last offseason. A deal worth pursuing would be to swap Joel Anthony and Jodie Meeks to Chicago for Taj Gibson.

Gibson would give Detroit a capable traditional power forward with good size at 6-9, 225. He plays tough defense, rebounds, and shoots well from mid-range. He’s in the final year of his contract and is owed $8.95 million next season.

Chicago’s front line is in flux. Pau Gasol is likely to opt out of a deal that will pay him just $7.77 million, and oft-injured Joakim Noah’s contract is expiring. They have both promising second-year man Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic returning at power forward, so Gibson is a luxury. Anthony would give them an affordable ($2.5 million) and dependable defender at center, or they could decline his team option if they prefer instead to have some extra cap space. Meeks would add depth to their backcourt and is a proven scorer and three-point shooter for a Bulls’ squad that was 24th in three-point attempts last season. He’s owed $6.54 million in his final year. I think this trade would be a win-win for both teams.

The moves we make in free agency would be contingent on who is available in the NBA Draft. The Pistons should be looking for the best player available, with a preference for the point guard or power forward/center spots. If any of Wade Baldwin, Demetrious Jackson, or Dejounte Murray is available, we should nab one of them. If not, Cheick Diallo is a power forward who projects to be a hustling athletic defender and rebounder. And Stephen Zimmerman is another interesting big man who may still be on the board when we pick.

In the second round, a similar approach should be taken, though if we draft a foreign big man like Petr Cornelie it may be best to delay bringing him over for one-two seasons. Point guard options worth considering are Anthony Barber or Kay Felder.

Assuming we draft a point guard prospect at 18, in free agency we should target D.J. Augustin as a point guard with proven ability to run Van Gundy’s offense and shoot the three. We cannot pursue everyone, and some teams will be looking first for starter quality veterans. Three years/$21 million should be sufficient to entice him. Ideally we’d have a team option for the final year. The hope would be that the rookie would grab the backup job by year two or three, but Augustin would be solid insurance either way.

In any case, under this plan no attempt would be made to re-sign Steve Blake, and both Lorenzo Brown and Spencer Dinwiddie would be cut loose.

If we take a power forward/center with the 18th pick, then I would prefer to target a younger guy as our backup point guard. Shane Largent has a player option with Brooklyn, but is only due to make $1.5 million next season. He has shown steady improvement since he was drafted 18th in 2013. Assuming he opts out, a three-year/$15 million offer should be sufficient to obtain him. As a third guard, the preference would then be to give Dinwiddie another chance. But if a point guard is taken in the second round, Summer League would be used to assess which player is the better prospect going forward.

If we obtain Gibson and also draft a big man in the first round, then no effort would be made to retain Anthony Tolliver. But if we pick a point guard first instead, we should seek to re-sign Anthony Tolliver (perhaps for $4 million per year) for his three-point shooting and veteran presence. We would also need to add a third center via free agency or our second round pick.

In either case the resulting rosters would have just 14 players, leaving the flexibility for adding another guy as needed during the season. The Plan A Roster envisions drafting a point guard in the first round, whereas the Plan B Roster assumes that the best choice available will be a power forward/center.

Whichever way we end up proceeding, the total salary amount (including the cost of stretching Gray and Smith’s deals) after signing Drummond would be no more than $104 million, which is well under the luxury tax limit.

Plan A Roster:

PG: Reggie Jackson, D.J. Augustin, Rookie (18th pick)

SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Bullock, Darrun Hilliard

SF: Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson

PF: Tobias Harris, Taj Gibson, Anthony Tolliver

C: Andre Drummond, Aaron Baynes, Free Agent/Rookie

Plan B Roster:

PG: Reggie Jackson, Shane Largent, Spencer Dinwiddie

SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Bullock, Darrun Hilliard

SF: Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson

PF: Tobias Harris, Taj Gibson, Rookie (18th pick)

C: Andre Drummond, Aaron Baynes, Free Agent/Rookie

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