My plan is pretty basic...I don't want to upset any of the chemistry that was built last season, in particular during the THE. The growth of the young core should be strong enough to propel this team into contention for the 3/4/5 seed, depending on what happens to Atlanta this summer.
In a dream world, we would sign Al Horford...I just couldn't wrap my head around what moves we would need to pull off to make that happen...Meeks/Morris/18th pick? Meeks/Morris/Stanley? Both of these would need to be sign & trades.
What I'm proposing below adds defense at the backup PG and PF spots, while giving us additional youth with some experience and a project who might be able to contribute in year one.
I don't think SVG/Bower really want another rookie to play major minutes, but I think playing someone like Diallo could be more based on situation/matchups. Tolliver would probably get a majority of those minutes in year one.
Here we go...I look forward to the feedback!
The NBA salary cap is projected to be $92 million for the 2016-17 season. The luxury tax is projected as $111 million.
Pistons players contract for next season:
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
(Aaron Gray stretch) - $452,059
$64,795,902 – Total for 8 roster spots
Non-guaranteed and options:
Joel Anthony - team option for $2,500,000 – Waive
Lorenzo Brown - non-guaranteed $1,015,696 - Waive
Spencer Dinwiddie - non-guaranteed $980,431 - Waive
Darrun Hilliard - partially guaranteed $874,060 – Pickup contract
$65,669,962 – Total for 9 roster spots
Pick 18 – Draft Cheik Diallo/Brice Johnson/Wade Baldwin - $1,372,000
I love Diallo…His ability to switch onto smaller players, shot blocking and defensive presence are exactly what the second unit needs. His limited offense doesn’t concern me because Baynes can work the block or shoot from 12 feet, Stanley, Hilliard/Bullock, and the backup PG (see below) will provide enough floor spacing. Additionally, spacing is less of a concern because of Diallo’s ability to finish off of the roll and in transition. He will score a majority of his points off of hustle and lobs, but we really need his defense.
He’s my preferred choice at 18, but if he’s gone for some reason, I like Brice Johnson as a backup PF as well. His steal/block rates were solid and he has enough touch to be a solid backup.
Baldwin is going to be a nice player, but I fully expect him to be gone by the time we pick…plus I would like to address backup PG via free agency.
Pick 49 – Draft - Payton II - or if he's unavailable, Pascal Siakam – probably doesn’t matter who is selected here unless it's Payton. Since I assume Payton will be off the board, I have no intentions of signing this player…but if we do, Siakam has some upside potential.
$67,041,962 – 10 roster spots (unless Payton is drafted, but his $ won't change much below)
Players not under contract past the 2015-16 season: Andre Drummond (QO), Anthony Tolliver, Steve Blake. Here's a complete list of 2016 NBA free agents.
I would have a maximum contract waiting for Drummond to sign after the next steps are taken:
Waive Steve Blake – freeing up $2,821,605 in cap space
$12,800,228 in CAP holds for Tolliver and Drummond
$79,842,190 current total with 10 roster spots filled and two "reserved" for Drummond and Tolliver. By my calculations, we have about $12M to spend to fill three roster spots.
Sign Austin Rivers to a 3 year, $27M contract (I would go up to 3 years, 33M if needed) – Rivers is versatile enough to play next to Jackson when needed, plus he’s big for the position and defends well. Without posting numbers, he’s adequate playing in the PnR, which we run quite a bit, and is an average shooter from deep. He’s developed into a solid role player and would give us the carryover that SVG mentioned he’s clamoring for when citing guys like Corey Joseph, Dellavadova, etc. in the podcast with J.J. Reddick.
With the remaining two spots, I’d try to bring back Steve Blake (if we don't draft Payton) and Joel Anthony (which I realize might take some maneuvering prior to the signings so that we don’t lose the right to re-sign them). If that doesn’t work out, look for other vets to plug in at the end of the bench.
Once those deals are finalized, offer Anthony Tolliver a 3 year, 15M contract and Drummond his max extension.
Plan B: Sign one of - Shane Larkin/Augustin/Bayless and Drew Nicholson. Doing this would eliminate one of Anthony or Tolliver from the mix. This also applies if we somehow land Baldwin in the draft. Having him in the fold eliminates the need to sign Rivers, but I would want a veteran backup for the next year or two while Baldwin learns. Kevin Seraphin is also in the mix here.
I don’t have any good suggestions…there were a number of solid options involving Meeks mentioned in the other plans, however, I don’t see another team trading for him yet (unless it’s part of a salary dump like Phoenix did last year – and my guess is that Meeks at 6M won’t be a candidate for a deal like that).
Taj Gibson would be absolutely fantastic as either the backup PF or as the starter if Morris is pushed to the bench. I think it takes Meeks and the 18th pick to get him though…and even then, I’m not sure Chicago is looking to get younger.
We have enough depth that I could see something happening midseason to bolster the bench.