The Pistons made some great strides this year. They made the playoffs for the first time in 7 years, and put together a young starting lineup which appears to be set for the long run. There are not tons of needs for this young team in the offseason, but a couple of important bench pieces.
The biggest priority of the offseason would be locking up Andre Drummond long term after he agreed to put off his extension until this offseason in order to provide the team with more financial flexibility. What a nice guy! There are priorities to take care of before we worry about the Andre Drummond extension.
The two key bench pieces would be the backup point guard and backup power forward positions. Those positions were manned by Steve Blake and Anthony Tolliver last season, and while they performed admirably, this team is in need of some upgrades.
Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower have been magicians in the trade market. We all know the Marcus Morris fleecing and the Reggie Jackson trade. I think this offseason will be the time to finally have a bit of success in the free agent market. The team made the playoffs and gained some respect around the league which could lead to some free agents being more willing to listen instead of turning a blind eye to Detroit.
Before we get into free agency, we have the draft.
The Pistons hold the 18th and 49th pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. It is great to not be in the lottery for once. There are a few appealing options projected to be available around the 18th pick. Many of them are point guards like Wade Baldwin, Demetrius Jackson and Tyler Ulis. There are also a few bigs like Domantas Sabonis, Thon Maker, Chieck Diallo, and Deyonta Davis.
The Pistons appear to be honing in on point guards, which does make sense. I would not be disappointed if that is the direction that the team goes, but it is not the direction I am going to go with my imaginary GM powers.
With the 18th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select...Thon Maker from Orangeville District Secondary School. Many people will think that I overdrafted him and that I could have traded back and still got him. He could even be available in the 2nd round! What am I doing?
Draft projections for Thon Maker are all over the board because he is a bit of a polarizing player. He gained prodigy status from a mixtape from a couple years ago, and has fallen off a bit since then. He is very athletic for a 6'11" guy and has potential to be a shot-blocking stretch 4, or a unicorn. Some projections have him going in the 2nd round, while some have him going in the lottery.
My rationale for this pick and really any draft pick in general is to get the guy you want regardless of projection. Each person views certain prospects differently, and I really like Maker. I don't think there is any way he will be available in the 2nd round, and I didn't feel like it was really necessary to trade back a few picks just to make the selection look like less of an overdraft.
For the 2nd round pick I am going to go with a local prospect who put up some impressive numbers at the Combine. That player is the pint-sized point guard of Kay Felder out of Oakland University. I was torn between him and Gary Payton II, but I ultimately went with Felder because I know a bit more about him and feel like he could be a great 3rd point guard who could provide some scoring punch when needed.
With the draft now complete, we will move on to free agency.
Free agency is where the fun begins. Everybody dreams of signing Kevin Durant. While I would totally take Kevin Durant if he wanted to join up with his old buddy Reggie Jackson, it is not really that realistic.
Looking at all of the players under contract, plus the cap holds for the draft picks and Andre Drummond, the Pistons are looking at about $12 million in cap space based on my math. However, some of those contracts are non-guaranteed or team options. One such contract is Joel Anthony, and I will decline his player option to gain an additional 2.5 million in cap space. I will also get rid of Lorenzo Brown's non-guaranteed contract worth about $1 million. I still like Spencer Dinwiddie and am holding out hope that he can still figure things out, so I am holding onto him for now.
I am now looking at about $15 million in cap room on a projected $92 million salary cap.
It is now time to get to work. Logic would say to use this cap room to sign a player at each position of need. However, I am not much of a logical thinker, so I am dumping all of my cap room on a backup point guard. Not all of it , but a majority of it. That backup point guard is Jeremy Lin.
Jeremy Lin burst onto the scene in this league during Linsanity. It lead to a big contract with Houston where he proceeded to be kind of meh. He moved onto the Lakers and had similar results. However, he signed a two year deal with the Charlotte Hornets last year that has a player option. He was fantastic off the bench for Charlotte, and was a large part of their turnaround last season.
I would expect Jeremy Lin to decline his player option for about $8 million because of his solid season and the fact that the cap is rising. He is going to get paid, and although he says he would like to stay in Charlotte, it would be wise to decline his option and go for more money.
Jeremy Lin is arguably the best backup point guard available on the market, and it is going to be expensive to woo him out of Charlotte. However, I think a 4 year deal worth about $56 million should be enough to get the job done. Obviously, I would like him for a bit less, but I just don't really see that happening.
I know you are probably thinking I am crazy to pay a backup point guard almost as much as our starting point guard. However, that is the nature of the market with the increasing cap. I think backup point guard is the most important position on this team because of Reggie Jackson's stamina issues.
Jeremy Lin was effective playing off the ball with a similar point guard to Reggie Jackson in Kemba Walker. Jeremy Lin isn't a good defender, but he is also not bad, and still an upgrade defensively over Reggie Jackson in my eyes. Plus, he is a 35 percent 3 point shooter for his career. I would trust our 2nd unit in the hands of Jeremy Lin and it would be huge for Reggie Jackson to have a backup the caliber of Jeremy Lin.
I think Jeremy Lin found a role with Charlotte that fit him very well. The Pistons can offer a similar role on another up-and-coming young team with a contract that provides him long-term security.
You may be thinking, "You dimwit, you forgot about backup power forward. Don't tell me that you are just going to bring back Anthony Tolliver and rely on him."
Of course not, I will use my Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower sorcery to acquire a power forward. The piece that I will dangle to make this happen is Jodie Meeks. You cannot have an offseason plan without a Jodie Meeks trade, it is one of the rules of this project.
I'm not sure how teams around the league will value Meeks. He has a skillset that is still valuable around the league, which is shooting. Injuries have derailed his Pistons career and I don't see much of a role for him going forward because of the emergence of Reggie Bullock and Darrun Hilliard.
The trade that I will make is Jodie Meeks to Toronto for Patrick Patterson. Their salaries matchup, although Patrick Patterson has one more year left on his contract beyond this year. He is still relatively young at the age of 26, and he is a stretch four who plays decent defense. He is only 6'9", which does not fit the profile of somebody bigger than Tobias Harris, but he is a natural PF who I like a lot.
The rationale for Toronto to do this trade makes sense in my head. They are looking at the possibility of losing Demar DeRozan to free agency as he flirts with heading home to the Los Angeles Lakers. That would leave the Raptors with a hole at shooting guard. Norman Powell will most-likely be able to step in and replace DeRozan in the starting lineup, but they could use a solid backup who could also start. That player is Jodie Meeks. As long as he can stay healthy, I think he could help Toronto a lot.
Patrick Patterson has been pretty solid for Toronto, however he did not start any games during the regular season as they opted to start Luis Scola (lulz). I hear rumblings from Toronto around the trade deadline almost every year about them wanting to upgrade the power forward position, so I assume they are not too high on Patterson. Maybe they would be willing to move the rest of his contract for a player with one year left who could provide shooting and security in the event DeRozan leaves.
I do not know how Toronto would view this offer, but I do not really care. This is my imaginary GM world where as Kevin Garnett would say, "Anything's possible!"
I was looking at my depth chart and felt like it would be good to have an extra big, so I decided to trade Spencer Dinwiddie to the Milwaukee Bucks for Johnny O'Bryant III. It is kind of a random trade, but their salaries match-up and Milwaukee does not have much direction at point guard and might be willing to take a flyer on Spencer Dinwiddie. Johnny O'Bryant III is a young guy who provides emergency depth at power forward and center as a I develop Thon Maker.
I do have an open roster spot which could be helpful for future trades, or 10 day contract guys. I am not too good with salary cap and all of that stuff, but if there is a way to bring back Anthony Tolliver as some extra depth and to fill that last roster spot, I would not be opposed to it.
Of course, after all of this we would go over the cap to sign Andre Drummond to his 5 year max contract.
Here is the ol' depth chart after my offseason:
PG: Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lin, Kay Felder
SG: KCP, Jeremy Lin, Reggie Bullock, Darrun Hilliard
SF: Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris, Reggie Bullock, Darrun Hilliard
PF: Tobias Harris, Patrick Patterson, Johnny O'Bryant III, Thon Maker
C: Andre Drummond, Aron Baynes, Johnny O'Bryant III, Thon Maker
What are your thoughts? Am I crazy giving Jeremy Lin that much money? Do you like what I did? Leave your thoughts in the comments!