In my scenario, the Pistons are not picking up the option for Joel Anthony, waiving Lorenzo Brown (non-guaranteed) and attempting to get something (maybe a future 2nd or some cash) for Spencer Dinwiddie. In addition, Darrun Hilliard stays on the books and right on the fringe of the roster.
Here is the breakdown of salaries, keeping in mind the hold for our draft pick and impending max player.
Andre Drummond - $21,100,000
Tobias Harris - $17,000,000
Reggie Jackson - $15,000,000
Jodie Meeks - $6,540,000
Aron Baynes - $6,500,000
(Josh Smith stretch) - $5,400,000
Marcus Morris - $5,000,000
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - $3,678,319
Stanley Johnson - $2,969,880
Reggie Bullock - $2,255,644
18th Pick - $1,372,000
Darrun Hilliard - $874,060
(Aaron Gray stretch) - $452,059
The above total is $87,943,962, with the cap projected to be $92 million – The Pistons would have $4 million in salary cap after signing Drummond to his max contract (I think the max is $21.1 million). Drummond’s cap hold is $8 million, meaning before he signs his max, the team will have an extra $12 million to use in free agency. Keep that in mind when I get to Free Agency.
The Pistons could go in a few directions with their first round pick. I think it’s fun to think about rookie point guards (especially given the free agent crop), but I can see SVG wanting a veteran behind Reggie. That position remains important in the offense, and we saw how Stan turned to Steve Blake instead of dealing with the growing pains of a younger player filling in during Jennings’ absence.
Instead, I think the Pistons look at the best forward or big man on the board. Currently at #18, I think that’s Domantas Sabonis from Gonzaga. His pedigree, age (just turned 20 in May), and skillset make him a very interesting player in this draft. I know it’s been written, but I tend to agree with the belief that Van Gundy’s interest in Donuts Montazuma (aka Donatas Montiejunas), will have Stan interested in Sabonis. While he isn’t physically imposing or a top athlete, he is smart and crafty. He knows how to use his frame, and is already a strong low-post scorer and rebounder. The buzz around Sabonis is his potential as a jump shooter. He has limited range, but shows signs that he could extend his range to the three-point arc.
I think he’s Taj Gibson with a more natural offensive game. His potential provides intrigue, but I think he offers value even as a rookie in the NBA.
Pick #49 has value, giving the Pistons the chance to add a prospect without having to get creative in free agency. I hope they keep both of their picks. I like how Bower and SVG looked for undervalued players with Dinwiddie and Hilliard.
One of those ‘undervalued’ players in this class might be Kay Felder from Oakland. The small (5’9"), yet dynamic scorer has opted to stay in the draft. Right now, mocks have him going somewhere between 40 and 60. I think it’s a great spot to nab him.
Felder had a great combine, including the second highest measured vertical in the combine’s history. He showed his ability to get in the paint, shoot over larger defenders, and provide quality outside shooting. His scoring is well documented, but his vision, ball handling and passing make him really interesting. I’m not sure how he translates to the NBA, but I think he’s worth a look.
On July 1, the Pistons will have close to $16 million in salary cap space and that might make them a player for a veteran forward.
Pistons fans, don’t go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the Jared Dudley, Joe Johnson and Luol Deng-s that you used to. Those three veterans will be available this summer with a reasonable price tag, looking to contribute to playoff-caliber teams. Each of them would allow SVG to play Marcus Morris at the 4, not having to rush a rookie into the rotation. Each of them could be a spot-starter, play some small-ball 4, and give the team two important traits: Shooting and veteran savvy.
This is still a young roster, and if you’ve listened to the DBB Podcast, you understand Ben Gulker and I’s argument regarding the need for experience. The Pistons need a chemist: A strong locker room guy with a likeable personality. A player that has playoff experience and understands his role. So he can stay in his lane, while reminding younger players to do the same.
The Pistons are at a level where the franchise needs to start considering intangibles to get them closer to 50 wins and a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference. A veteran could be valuable to a team that’s still learning how to win.
My personal favorite from that trio is Jared Dudley. When you’ve played for four teams in four seasons, I guess you’re a ‘journeyman.’ Yet he’s the perfect chemist for this Pistons team. He fits a role and an immediate need for the team. He is a career 39.9% 3-point shooter, is capable of starting (like in the 40 starts with the Wizards last season). While not an elite defender, I don’t think he hurts his team.
A quick look at some Advanced Stats shows that Dudley is above-average on both ends of the floor, with his shooting numbers being really stellar throughout his career. I think he could work well in SVG’s system, really excelling as an outlet option out of the PNR. He doesn’t have a lot of playoff experience, but he was pretty good for Milwaukee two years ago in their six-game series with the Bulls.
In terms of a contract, how about $6 million a year for Dudley, with a team option for the ’17-18 season? Does it sound like a little too much for a veteran that didn’t seem to have much of a market to demand that type of money? Yes, it does, and it sound like the deals that brought Aron Baynes and Jodie Meeks to the Pistons.
After signing a veteran forward and Drummond, the Pistons are over the cap. In my scenario, the team isn’t close to the Luxury Tax threshold. So we can still use the ‘Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception’ to sign the coveted backup point guard. The over-the-cap, under-the-tax MLE is set at $5,628,000 for next season.
That could be very valuable to the Pistons, but puts them out of the running for the upper-echelon of backups. Sorry Quags, no Dellavedova here. Instead, we have to look at a list of vets with question marks. It’s a grab bag, take your pick and deal with it. I like the possible return on the risk of a player like Mario Chalmers. The Achilles injury is a concern, but I like his game. I don’t know, it’s bleak out there. I researched the point guard free agents for too long, it made me sad.
Adding Dudley, Chalmers, and a rookie minimum contract ($543,471) for our second round pick, you get $100,115,433 as the Pistons salary cap total. That’s a lot of money and I didn’t really do a lot. I think people need to keep that in mind while setting expectations for the off-season.
If you’re looking to replace Joel Anthony and find a reserve big man, you might want to watch the camp invites and Summer League. After my full scenario, I have 14 players under contract. Frontcourt depth is something that would worry me, depending on how NBA-ready our first round pick might be (if it’s a forward).
Here’s the depth chart:
Andre Drummond | Aron Baynes
Tobias Harris| Jared Dudley | Domantas Sabonis
Marcus Morris | Stanley Johnson
K. Caldwell-Pope | Jodie Meeks | Reggie Bullock | Darrun Hilliard
Reggie Jackson | Mario Chalmers | Kay Felder